Social and Environmental Sustainability in UNDP

UNDP is committed to ensuring that our policies, 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:

  • Social and Environmental Standards: UNDP’s Programming and Operations Policies and Procedures (POPP) require that opportunities to strengthen social and environmental sustainability shall be identified at the earliest stage of programme and project design, realized through implementation and tracked through monitoring and evaluation. The objective is to avoid, mitigate, or minimize the adverse social and environmental impacts of our programming and produce positive outcomes for people and the environment. Currently these requirements are being elaborated further in a set of Social and Environmental Standards.  A draft of these standards is now available for comment, please find additional information here.

  • Environmental and Social Screening Procedure: UNDP’s project-level Environmental and Social Screening Procedure is a requirement for all proposed projects with a budget of $500,000 or more.  The screening procedure determines if and what further environmental and social assessment and management measures are required.  UNDP launched this procedure in 2012 as part of a phased roll-out process.  UNDP will be revising the procedure in early 2014 based on lessons learned and to align with the Social and Environmental Standards.

  • Compliance Review and Dispute Resolution Process: The Social and Environmental Standards wiill be underpinned by a Social and Environmental Compliance Review and Dispute Resolution Process with two key functions: 1) a compliance review process to respond to claims that UNDP is not in compliance with applicable environmental and social policies; and 2) a dispute resolution process that ensures individuals, peoples, and communities affected by UNDP programmes and projects have access to appropriate dispute resolution procedures for hearing and addressing project-related disputes.  Drafts of relevant documents are now available for comment, please find additional information here.

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.


UNDP's draft standards were shared for an open comment period from March 11 - May 2, 2014.

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