International Labour Organization (ILO)

HQ: Geneva, Switzerland

Focal Point: Raynald Dubuis

Number of locations: Data includes emissions from HQ and 48 other offices

Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions



Key Figures: Waste




The International Labour Organization is the tripartite UN agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of its member states in common action to promote social justice throughout the world. The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues.


Experience so far


Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The ILO has been elaborating greenhouse gas inventories since 2008. Over the years, the participation rate and the quality of information have risen considerably as the procedures for reporting information have been improved and consolidated. In 2008, 19 offices were included in the inventory, whereas in 2013 this number increased to 48 offices, covering all ILO country offices. These improvements will enable the organization to establish comparable basis for analysis and new targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

There is a high level of commitment throughout the organization. The support of senior management has been essential for the adoption of measures in view to reduce the broad impacts of the organization on the environment. Key for the effectiveness of these measures is the constant communication with staff and their involvement in the efforts towards greening the ILO.

Waste Inventory

Waste management is one of the key aspects the ILO is targeting to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
ILO reported data on waste management for 2015 and 2016, as part of the organization’s efforts to measure and assess waste practices within its offices worldwide. In 2015, five ILO offices provided data for the waste inventory, and in 2016 a total of thirteen offices contributed to the exercise. In both occasions, over 50 per cent of all ILO hazardous and non-hazardous waste was originated from the renovation works currently underway in the ILO headquarters building and particular attention is given to its treatment.

Specific procedures for collection, storage and treatment have been adopted to each of the various types of construction waste, which include, scrap metal, wood, cardboard, brick/concrete, glass and asbestos. All waste streams are collected and treated by certified companies compliant with applicable regulations. By reusing or recycling waste as much as possible, the intent is to divert it from landfills and incinerators. A compactor is also in use on site to minimize transportation

Particular attention is also given to waste water, which is stored and treated on an on-site treatment unit. The treated water is then discharged into the sewage. Importantly, periodical test analysis are undertaken to monitor the treated water and guarantee its quality and safety


Reduction efforts

  1. Reducing travel: Since 2007, fifty field offices have been equipped with videoconference systems. In 2012, new travel arrangements modified rules related to business class air travel and the review of the travel process to encourage the use of video-conferencing and other means of communication as an alternative to travel activities.

  2. Information technology: The virtualization and consolidation of servers has contributed towards lowering the data centre's environmental footprint.

  3. Reducing emissions and impacts from ILO buildings: The ILO has been constantly seeking to improve its facilities worldwide. During the past years, the organization has taken several measures at the headquarters. They include: a) the adaptation of the central heating system for an alternative use of natural gas in addition to diesel oil; b) the use of Geneva Lake water (GLN) for cooling; and c) the replacement of the insulation of the roof, doubling its efficiency. The renovation project underway at the headquarters will not only modernize the facilities, but will also lead to more efficient use of available space, improved energy performance and reduced carbon emissions. Significant energy savings will result from improvements in the building insulation.

  4. Staff awareness: In 2012 the ILO launched the exposition ‘Greening the ILO’ in the headquarters lobby. It informed staff about the actions undertaken to improve the environmental performance of the organization.

  5. Green Procurement: We strive to procure the supplies and/or services our requisitioners need in a way that promotes social progress, economic development and environmental protection.

  6. Official meetings: The ILO has adopted a “Papersmart Policy” for the production and distribution of paper documents in support of its official meetings as well as a print on demand policy.

  7. Waste management: With regard to non-construction waste, since 2010 the ILO headquarters in Geneva has implemented an integrated recycling system that centralizes the collection and transport of regular waste to one waste management service provider. This new approach has not only established a more efficient and coordinated waste management system, but also has resulted in cost-savings.

Recognizing that waste management is often a common challenge in various locations, ILO Environmental Sustainability Action Plan 2016-17 targets take into consideration waste management in ILO field offices. With this in consideration, strategies are being developed to implement more efficient waste management practices in five pilot-offices (Brasilia, Dar es Salaam, Islamabad, New Delhi and Santiago), including by reducing, reusing, recycling, and ensuring an adequate disposal for various waste streams. Other expected benefits resulting from the activities are safer and better workplaces, and further alignment of ILO operations with its mandate of the promotion of decent work and green jobs.


The ILO is committed to becoming greener


In January 2016 the ILO achieved a great milestone with the new Environmental Sustainability Policy signed by its Director-General, Mr Guy Rider. The Policy states ILO’s commitment to enhancing environmental sustainability and is applicable to all ILO programmes, projects and operations at headquarters and in all external offices.

To achieve these aims and commitments, action will focus on two streams. First, it will progressively mainstream environmental sustainability in policies and programmes, Decent Work Country Programmes and projects. Second, it will promote environmental sustainability in its operations, including by: continuing to measure, reduce and report on greenhouse gas emissions; increasing energy efficiency; further promoting sustainable travel, printing and procurement practices; as well as by improving waste management practices.

To implement these measures, the ILO has established an Environmental Management System. An Environmental Sustainability Committee was formed to oversee greening activities and is composed by representatives from various departments in the headquarters and regions. It has recently approved an Environmental Sustainability Action Plan for 2016-17 containing targets and indicators for the biennium.


Next steps


Building on all these measures, the ILO aims to continuously enhance environmental sustainability in its premises, operations and management systems.

For more information, visit the Greening the ILO website.