United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)


HQ: Copenhagen, Denmark

Focal Point: Nives Costa & Riikka Jalasvirta


Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions


Key Figures: Waste


Executive Director's Message


“To ensure a fair future for all, the world must set out on a path towards sustainable development. The international community, including the UN family, must work together to find innovative approaches to the challenges posed by climate change.

At UNOPS, we are committed to delivering truly sustainable results both in the projects we implement on behalf of our partners, and in our approach to our internal operations.

Furthermore, we commit to report on and work to reduce our carbon footprint on an annual basis, while ensuring climate neutrality through the annual purchasing of certified emission reduction units.

To better serve people in need, we must ensure that our actions have a long-lasting, positive impact. Combating the effects of climate change is a major part of this.”

Grete Faremo, Executive Director, UNOPS




UNOPS mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner.

UNOPS vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts, always satisfying or surpassing partner expectations.

UNOPS customizes its support to individual partner needs, offering everything from stand-alone transactional services to long-term management of development projects. These services are offered in three main areas: sustainable infrastructure, sustainable procurement and sustainable project management.

Partners range from UN organizations and international financial institutions to governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.


Experience so far

  • A network of environmental focal points has been created around the world to measure UNOPS progress using the greenhouse gas emission inventory.
  • UNOPS has developed an environmental management system (EMS) for both its projects and facilities. Jerusalem was the first field office to fully implement the EMS and achieve ISO 14001 certification, and 8 other offices joined since. The EMS is now being progressively rolled out at all UNOPS field offices.
  • A range of sustainability projects, such as in renewable energy, sustainable building construction and capacity development in sustainable procurement have been implemented.

Reduction efforts


While we have qualitative evidence that emissions reductions and environmental benefits are already being generated through our ISO14001 certification, sustainable procurement guidance and other sustainability initiatives, the overall emission levels are very much influenced by projects opening and closing, their location, etc.

Reduction achievements 

While we have qualitative evidence that emission reductions and environmental benefits are already being generated through our ISO14001 certification, sustainable procurement guidance and other sustainability initiatives, we do not yet have a system in place for capturing quantitative information at an organizational level.


Inventory boundaries


UNOPS applies the principle of operational control to define the boundaries of its inventory. UNOPS adheres to the UN-wide boundary for emission reporting, covering all sources of emissions included in the UN-wide reporting boundary. Continuous focus on quality of reports has allowed UNOPS to achieve a nearly total coverage of field offices, personnel and emissions sources.




UNOPS has been fully climate neutral since 2012. To offset its emissions, UNOPS has purchased its Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from quality projects in developing countries.

For its 2016 offsets, UNOPS has renewed its commitment to buy Gold Standard certified CERs, ensuring that climate finance delivers both emission reductions and long-term sustainable development outcomes. 


Waste management


UNOPS introduced a waste reporting protocol in its offices in 2012. As part of its EMS, waste management is mainstreamed into the organization’s projects. The baseline is recent and data quality is still a challenge; it is still early to set reduction targets, but anecdotal evidence show clear improvement in the way offices and projects prevent, manage and recycle their waste.


Other environmental measures


In conjunction with the annual greenhouse gas inventory, data on freshwater consumption and waste production has been collected since 2012, as part of the development of UNOPS environmental management system.

UNOPS is committed to improving the environmental performance of its offices. The UN City building in Copenhagen, Denmark, which houses UNOPS headquarters, is a state-of-the-art building in terms of energy efficiency, water savings and environmental performance. The roof is covered by solar panels that contribute to internal energy demand. Reused rainwater is used for the toilets, and it has been estimated that UN City will capture an average of almost 3 million litres of rainwater annually – almost enough to flush the entire building's toilets for a year. Water use in the building's toilets, kitchens and showers has also been reduced by more than 60 percent, thanks to the installation of low-flow taps and low-flush toilets.


Next steps


UNOPS is committed to continuously improving its environmental performance and to providing transparent reporting. In 2016, UNOPS became the one of the first UN organizations to publish a Sustainability Report, using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework. In the coming years, UNOPS will work to improve the data included in the Sustainability Report, including the establishment of targets.


Additional links


UNOPS and sustainability

UNOPS case studies