International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

HQ: Geneva, Switzerland

Focal Point: Peter Ransome

Key Figures: Greenhouse gas emissions 

ITU’s operational emissions are presented according to an updated UN-approved format. The air travel figures include the effects of entitlement travelling as well as of mission travelling. The “staff” complement also includes the "full-time equivalent" complement of all non-staff persons managed and paid for by ITU.

ITU’s emissions per “staff” member, and our building emissions per square metre, remain well below the average for the UN family as a whole. 

Key Figures: Waste

Key Figures: Water



As a global organization with Member States, industry Sector Members and academia, ITU offers its unique sectoral competences to play a leading role in developing an integrated approach to the relation between Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and climate change, focusing on technology, monitoring, adaptation and mitigation. ITU works closely with its Membership to lead efforts to achieve a climate neutral ICT industry and to promote sustainable development through the use of ICTs.

As the specialized agency of the UN for telecommunications/ICTs, ITU is committed to working in partnership with other organizations in the fight against climate change. This includes contributing actively to the work of the UN system, including to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is working within the UN High Level Committee on Programs (HLCP) to “deliver as one”  in the area of climate change and work to deepen the global understanding of the relation between ICTs and sustainability.

ITU is also engaging the ICT sector to improve its environmental performance. In this regard ITU is working on Green ICT standards to improve resource efficiency (in particular energy efficiency) and to reduce electronic waste (e-waste), working very closely with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention.

As a responsible global citizen, ITU will move in close collaboration with the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, towards climate neutrality in its operations. ITU will continue to promote the use of ICTs to strengthen and develop scientific and industrial tools in all areas, to the fullest extent possible, to combat climate change.

Experience so far

ITU’s purchased electricity for HQ use is from 100% renewable resources. Wet heating is taken from a centralized communal facility powered by gas. ITU HQ employs innovative building cooling using water from the local Lac Leman.

We hold paperless meetings, and exploit virtual meetings and remote participation in multiple languages via the use of video and teleconferencing. The Union continues to reduce the use of paper in offices; for instance, salary slips and personnel movement notifications are not printed and mailed, but are available on-line via a secure delivery system. ITU is also contributing its expertise in ICT to enable other organizations to use technology to become more energy-efficient.

ITU Deputy Secretary-General chairs our cross-sectoral Climate Change and Emergency Telecommunications Taskforce. The Union recycles consumables such as paper, plastics, toner cartridges, batteries, light bulb and waste food and oils from its cafeterias. ITU HQ provides bicycle storage for staff and visitors.

ITU has continued to advance in the use of remote participation in ITU events, to reduce GHG emissions caused by delegate travel as well as to reduce expenditures. We have virtualized our ICT Servers to save power and cooling load.

ITU’s main HQ conference room (the Popov Room) has been designed to allow fully paperless meetings by the use of wired and wireless networking, and through access to all displayed materials from the room screens via delegates’ own PCs. These systems also improve visual accessibility for all delegates. In addition, and to further decrease environmental impact, remote participation (both audio and video) is possible in any interpreted language used in the room.

Reduction efforts

ITU’s work in climate change relates to adaptation, emergency telecommunications, monitoring and mitigation through the adoption of standards for more energy-efficient ICT services and products. The Union allocates and protects radio spectrum for environmental monitoring and promotes ICT applications for e-environment and sustainable development. Work in emergency telecommunications for disaster mitigation and relief is a vital component of efforts in adaptation.

ITU actively participates in the UN Climate Change Conferences, including contributing to preparatory events (with partners, including other UN agencies).

ITU has continued to strengthen its cooperation with other UN Agencies, as well as with other international and national organizations involved in preventing further climate change. Examples of this include collaboration with WMO on the use of radio communications for meteorology or the collaboration with the UNU, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNEP and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on issues related with e-waste, among others.


Aside from reduction of its own emissions, an on-going process, ITU is offsetting its residual operational emissions as of the year 2015 via the purchase of Certified Emission Reductions under the Clean Development Mechanism, and is also contributing to the associated Adaptation Fund. ITU has thus declared itself as Climate Neutral in its operations as from 1 January 2015: according to an organizational boundary and via best-practice offset projects compatible with UN standards, in collaboration with UN experts.

Next steps

ITU is continuing its efforts as a climate neutral organization, in close coordination with other UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes. ITU has conducted annual energy audits to establish its GHG Inventory for operations since 2007, contributing to the consolidated UN report published in a standardized format. ITU also collaborates with its Host Country to be fully compliant with local legal requirements on monitoring and reporting. ITU has already taken practical steps to improve energy efficiency and to reduce heat-loss from premises: future projects in this area are dependent on the availability of financial resources. The Union assesses all new facilities projects for their potential reductions in the use of electricity and heating fuel. We continue cutting the use of paper in offices, publications and meetings and we assess all potential business travel options for environmental impact.

Find out more about ITU's efforts to address climate change.