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 United Nations General Assembly has endorsed the Secretary-General’s plan to integrate sustainable development practices into operations and facilities management across the Secretariat. With this in mind, UNON is working to implement an environmental management system: a set of processes and practices that enables an organization to reduce its environmental impact and increase its operating efficiency.
Sustainable Development Goals
At the Division of Conference Services, our work is guided by Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. 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 United Nations print shop and only the second United Nations agency in the world to achieve this.
Recycling & waste management
One of the UNON 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 sent for disposal. In 2017, a new waste sorting station was built, and waste collected from the complex is now sorted and 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 went up from 17 to 90 per cent.
Plastic-free meetings & 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. In some cases, sustainable water cups are provided.
Water treatment plant
All the water from the offices, kitchens, washrooms and recreation centre ends up at the local wastewater plant. There are three oxidation ponds that use natural UV rays and biological processes to treat the water, which is then reused for irrigation around the compound.
Wetlands & biodiversity
The UNON compound has a variety of unique natural habitats and themed features. 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 to store rainwater and others are used 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 indigenous trees and interpretive nature trails, as well as several beehives. The compound’s 10-km nature trail is ideal for walking, running and spotting a variety of birds and plants.
UNON efforts at energy efficiency include highly efficient cooling systems 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 to reducing its total energy consumption to approximately 200 KWh per year, in line with global best practices for energy-efficient buildings. Solar panels are also used for heating water for the central kitchens.
UNON has achieved a 5,000-L reduction in water consumption thanks to technology improvements and to the decommissioning of some decorative ponds.
There has been an 8 per cent reduction in water consumption from the installation of high-efficiency water systems, which include features such as dual flush toilets and push taps.