United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)


HQ: New York

Focal Point: William Abi Abdallah


iso @ unicef.org
wabiabdallah @ unicef.org
hmartinez @ unicef.org


Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions

Due to the adoption of the new Environmental Footprint & Accessibility Assessment Tool, UNICEF has adopted updated emissions factors starting 2017.

While it is very hard to exactly measure emissions from all offices, especially when it comes to common premises where agencies’ energy consumption is not submetered, the overall trend has been towards a reduction in overall emissions due to the following main factors:

  • Change in emission factors library in 2017 and on.
  • Facilities adopting energy efficient equipment and appliances
  • Several on-site UNICEF solar power plants coming online
  • Accuracy in reporting, better understanding of units, and more quality control.  

Key Figures: Waste

Key Figures: Water


Executive-Directors message

“Our actions as an organization and as individuals have a significant impact on the environment we all rely on to survive and thrive. Our children, especially the most vulnerable, are already experiencing the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change. Let’s do our part by consuming resources more responsibly, reducing our waste, and using smart and efficient modes of transport, to limit our impact on our environment. Small and big actions matter, and our children need a good example to follow. Let’s be this good example.”

Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director



UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF insists that the survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress. UNICEF is committed to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children. UNICEF responds in emergencies to protect the rights of children. UNICEF aims, through its country programmes, to promote the equal rights of women and girls and to support their full participation in the political, social, and economic development of their communities.

Experience so far

UNICEF is strongly committed to reducing its environmental impact through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, vehicle fleets and facilities, and through reductions in water consumption, paper use, and waste. UNICEF is equally committed to improving the accessibility of its premises through applying universal design principles to ensure that all staff including people with disabilities have adequate levels of comfort and mobility within inclusive UNICEF premises.

In the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, UNICEF explicitly renewed its commitment to making its offices accessible and inclusive for all, and to improving the eco-efficiency of its operations. The universal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 demands that the UN system shows leadership at all levels, making the integration of sustainability considerations in facilities and operations extremely important.

UNICEF is on track to become an ever-more efficient and cost-effective organization by 2021. Compliance with the Procedure on Eco-Efficiency & Inclusive Access in UNICEF Premises and Operations UNICEF will contribute to improving UNICEF’s eco-sustainability, operational cost efficiency and premise inclusiveness.

Reduction efforts


 On 15 January 2018, DFAM announced the launch of the new Procedure on Eco-Efficiency & Inclusive Access in UNICEF Premises and Operations.  The procedure provides clear guidance to offices on improving the eco-efficiency and accessibility of our premises - a big step for UNICEF on its commitment to "walk the talk"!  Operational eco-efficiency and sustainability have become part of UNICEF’s strategic objectives, and reporting on accessibility and eco-efficiency has been officially added to the ToRs of operations teams.

In line with the procedure, Green Teams have been established in each UNICEF office including operations staff and any other staff member committed to contributing to the environmental cause and the implementation of the action plan.

Inventory Management Plan


UNICEF procured and implemented the Environmental Footprint and Accessibility Assessment software (EFAAT) to facilitate the collection of resource use costs, and environmental impact data resulting from office operations, mainly air travel, electricity use, diesel generators, vehicles, heating, air conditioning, water and waste.

Waste management

Although each country has its own regulation that make the implementation of a standard systematic method to measure waste quite challenging, UNICEF office report on  waste disposal type and volume every year.

Through an organization wide behaviour change communications campaign, UNICEF eliminated the use of plastic water bottles in 2018 at its facilities and at all internal meeting and events and will continue working towards single-use plastic free offices.

The campaign film can be seen here.

Water management

UNICEF collects water consumption data from each office every year and conducts water audits in offices that report high water consumption. We also provides technical support and funding to install water meters, low-flow water fixtures, water saving toilets, etc.

These methodologies have started showing some results, however the low financial cost of water still makes it a hard business case to push forward. Behavior change campaigns are scheduled to tackle this issue.



UNICEF wishes to render the entire organization climate neutral through reducing to the maximum extent possible the GHG emissions associated with the facility operations and travel and offsetting the remaining balance, which it determined, in accordance with the principles of the UN Greenhouse Gas Inventory, to amount to:

- 63,288 tons of CO2 equivalent (t CO2 eq) in the year 2018. At the time of the agreement between UNFCCC and UNICEF the cost of an AF CER with ITAF was USD 1.23.

Other environmental measures


Over the past 2 years, our Inclusive and Sustainable Operations team has provided technical and financial support to over 70 country and zone offices across all regions and supported the implementation of approximately 180 projects to improve the eco-efficiency and accessibility of our premises and operations.

Environmental Impact Reduction (EIR) projects included LED lights, sensors, energy efficient air conditioning, solar PV systems, and low-flow water fixtures, while Accessibility Improvement (AI) projects included wheelchair accessible elevators, chairlifts, ramps, and bathroom accessibility upgrades. ​

Next steps


Eco-Efficiency & Renewable Energy Projects:

In April 2019, the East Africa Region started implementing the recommendations of the 2018 regional energy, water, and generator assessment. South Sudan CO and Tanzania CO are in the process of procuring a solar pv system, in addition to reducing their energy load by investing in en ergy efficient fixtures & appliances.

In August 2019, UNICEF launched the regional energy, water and generator assessment at its offices in the West & Central African Region. The first office to complete the audit was Mali CO, where a set of projects are planned, including a solar PV system.

Several other projects are under way, and we will be sharing the news as it comes!

Behavior Change Campaigns:

In June 2019 we launched a behaviour change campaign to have staff to use the air conditioning and heating systems more responsibly and efficiently, to reduce electricity costs and ultimately to reduce the environmental footprint of country offices. (See posters below)
Link to videos:
1.    Efficient use of air conditioners

2.    Efficient use of heating systems

In 2020 Q1 we'll be launching a new campaign to have staff turn off computers, lights and monitors at the end of the day and in Q3 a campaign on responsible use of water.