G. Go green. Be green.

Climate change is now recognised as one of the most serious challenges to the global community, potentially affecting almost all aspects of life across the planet. With the world’s increasing reliance on technology and diminishing resources it is vital that every individual understands their impact on the environment. You should be aware of the mission policy on environmental impact.

The basic principles of environmental awareness by which you are expected to abide are:

  1. reduction and safe disposal of waste;
  2. emission and pollution reduction;
  3. using resources sparingly (e.g. electricity, water, raw materials) and using renewable energy sources where possible;
  4. raise awareness!

1. Reduce waste

In peacekeeping missions, waste is generated that may be hazardous to public health and the environment. The improper disposal of hazardous waste leads to the contamination of the environment and dangerous goods may be diverted to the ‘black’ market for resale or misuse.

For this reason, adequate control measures should be in place to minimise these hazards. Employers must maintain awareness in protecting not only their own employees, but also the environment from biohazards. Employees, on the other hand, also have responsibilities with respect to controlling and reporting potentially biohazardous situations and adhering to safe procedures.

Colour-coding:

The three Rs of waste minimisation – an environmental ethos!

Office procurement and waste minimisation should embrace the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Some examples for the three Rs include:

Reduce

Reuse

Recycle

2. Reduce emissions

Most organisations encourage staff to reduce their environmental footprint in different ways, for example by avoiding unnecessary travel in missions by conducting meetings through video-conferences or the internet. Solar panels for information and communications technology (ICT) equipment can be deployed in remote bases. Other ideas include:

3. Use resources sparingly

To reduce energy consumption, take the following into consideration with regard to office supplies and equipment:

Lighting

Information technology

Did you know?

A computer left on overnight all year generates the same amount of greenhouse gas as a car driving from Madrid to Moscow – that’s more than 4,000 km!

Air conditioning

Climate control accounts for about 40 % of an office’s total energy use. The opportunity for big savings in energy efficiency can be found in your heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems.

Green purchasing

Inspect potential office equipment for energy saving and environmentally sustainable ‘tags’ or ‘eco-labelling’. Energy-efficient products on the market today can reduce energy costs by 25-50 % or more without compromising quality or performance.

Think of longevity, reusability, refillability and recyclability when buying office equipment such as printers, scanners and photocopiers.

Water

The UN has set up a Community of Practice on Environmental Management for all UN missions to share best practices and experience; a website with green tips has also been created (www.greeningtheblue.org). Some missions have created green committees to give a local response to environmental issues. It is simple to conserve energy through switching off appliances, sufficiently insulating houses and offices, and avoiding excessive use of personal transport. However, it takes a little more understanding to avoid purchasing unsustainable products that are at risk of becoming exhausted or supporting unscrupulous companies that employ techniques that adversely affect the environment.

4. Take action, raise awareness!