Social and Environmental Sustainability in UNDP

Photo: UNDP.

UNDP is committed to ensuring that our programming and operations are socially and environmentally sustainable.

Sustainable Programme and Project Management

UNDP recognizes that social and environmental sustainability are fundamental to the achievement of sustainable development outcomes, and therefore must be fully integrated into our Programmes and Projects.  To ensure this we have the following key policies, procedures and accountability mechanisms in place to underpin our support to countries:

Sustainable Operations Management


As a leading agency in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation, UNDP is committed to walk the talk by minimizing the environmental impact of its global operations. Demonstrating that we operate in a resource-efficient and responsible manner as part of UNDP’s commitment to adhere to highest standards of accountability and integrity:

We measure:  As of 2008 UNDP monitors Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with our global operations and reports results as part of the annual 'Moving towards a climate neutral United Nations'. Since then we have expanded our monitoring systems to also include other environmental indicators including water consumption and waste disposal.

We reduce:  Around the world UNDP offices are working towards minimizing the environmental impact associated with their operations. From green building renovations and use of photovoltaic power to generate electricity to staff training and bicycling programs, UNDP staff throughout the organization are developing efficient and creative solutions to reduce UNDP’s reliance on fossil fuels and natural resources.

We offset:  On World Environment Day 2009 Helen Clark expressed UNDP’s commitment to organization-wide climate neutrality. In 2012, UNDP Headquarters in New York achieved climate neutrality via a combination of GHG emission reductions and procurement of high-quality Gold Standard Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).  Other UNDP offices are also taking steps towards climate neutrality.


Sustainable Procurement


To help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion, while at the same time address the issues of climate change, UNDP makes a shift to more sustainable production and consumption practices. Sustainable procurement means making sure that the products and services UNDP buys are as sustainable as possible, with the lowest environmental impact and most positive social results. Procurement, therefore, plays a key role in contributing to sustainable development.

The 2015-17 UNDP Procurement Strategy, which is developed in response to the 2014-17 UNDP Strategic Plan, represents a commitment by the organization to achieve the benefits Sustainable Procurement offers. As part of the strategy UNDP Procurement will focus on:

  • Incorporating sustainability criteria in the organization’s purchasing evaluations

  • Develop monitoring mechanisms and assessments to promote vendor compliance in the UNDP Supply Chain

  • Stimulating innovation via e.g. Crowd-sourcing, functional specifications and piloting innovative technologies  

  • Better Integration of procurement at the project design stages.

  • Promoting and utilizing public-private partnership with companies in the areas of innovation and sustainability

  • Enhance the already high transparency standards in UNDP’s Procurement  

Please find more information on the UNDP Procurement Website.

Learn More about UNDP’s Social and Environmental Standards

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Framework for Advancing Environmental and Social Sustainability in the UN System
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