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United Nations uses purchasing power to enhance sustainability

20 June 2012

In order to lead by example the United Nations has undertaken a concerted effort to improve the sustainability of the organisation. The UN is not only taking measures such as opting for more sustainable travel, but also utilising the purchasing power of the organisation to encourage suppliers to deliver products with a higher value, that are both resource efficient and produced under fair labour conditions.

Procurement is incorporated by many UN agencies as part of their emissions reduction strategies - the High Level Committee on Management’s Procurement Network, for example, has included sustainable procurement among its strategic priorities. Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, has expressed his support, saying, “the impact of such green procurement policies by public bodies and governments cannot be underestimated.” A support pack has been developed to assist UN agencies in this area.

The UN has also placed emphasis on enhancing the energy efficiency and climate neutrality of its buildings. Retrofits have taken place on existing UN buildings whilst others have been built anew, such as the impressive UNEP headquarters in Nairobi (Kenya). UNEP’s Regional Office for North America was awarded the Gold Standard Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, thanks to the environmental standards it set for its new offices.

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