The United Nations Office at Nairobi is committed to helping safeguard the planet by making its in-house practices more climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable.
The UN General Assembly has endorsed the Secretary-General’s plan to integrate sustainable development practices into Secretariat-wide operations and facilities management. With this in mind, UNON is working to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS): a set of processes and practices that enables an organization to reduce its environmental impact and increase its operating efficiency.
At the Division of Conference Services, our work is guided by Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption & production. Simply put, this means “doing more and better with less”, and working to make our practices as sustainable and efficient as possible.
Our Publishing Services Section was awarded ISO 14001 certification in 2007 for its environmentally sustainable print and production practices. It was the first UN print shop and only the second UN agency in the world to achieve this.
Recycling & waste management
One of UNON’s objectives is to reduce the amount of waste from the complex that goes directly to landfill. Since 2008, the Near Zero Station has been sorting waste produced on the compound and reducing the amount of garbage sent for disposal. In 2017, a new waste sorting station was constructed and waste collected from the complex is sorted, measured and either recycled or disposed of appropriately. Waste sorting bins are located in each office building on the complex to enable sorting at source. By introducing the new strategy our recycling rate from 17% went up to 90%.
Plastic-free meetings and events
Single-use plastics are no longer in use at UNON. Throughout the complex and at all events, drinking water is supplied in glass bottles. Water dispensers are available around the complex. Event participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles or, in some cases, sustainable water cups are provided.
Water treatment plant
All water from the offices, kitchens, washrooms and the recreation centre end up at the local waste water plant. There are three oxidation ponds which use natural UV rays and natural biological processes to treat the water, which is then reused for irrigation around the compound.
Wetlands and biodiversity
The UNON compound has a variety of unique natural habitats and thematic artefacts. It boasts an ecologically balanced environment, with a set of natural and constructed wetlands filled with reed-beds and artificial water features. Some of these are used for storage of rainwater and others for treated wastewater. The wetlands are home to a plentiful array of birdlife, fish and insects.
There is a designated biodiversity ‘arboretum’ on the compound, with various species of indigenous trees and interpretive nature trails, as well as several beehives. The 10km nature trail on the compound is ideal for walking, running and spotting a variety of birds and plants.
UNON’s efforts at energy efficiency include highly efficient cooling systems applied in the New Office Facility, LED corridor lighting, energy saving lighting with motion sensors in washrooms, solar lighting along internal roads and car parks, solar water heaters and even a solar powered lawn mower.
Solar panel installations at the New Office Facility contribute in reducing total consumption to approximately 200 KWH per annum, which is in-line with global best practice for an energy efficient building. Solar Panels are also used for heating of water for the central kitchens.
UNON has ensured there is 5000 litre reduction in water consumption due to technology improvements and decommissioning of some decorative ponds.
There is 8% reduction in consumption due to installation of high-water efficiency systems for example dual flush toilets and push taps.