Making us green, we hope, without envy

September 30, 2019

Potter about the garden or save the world? Both. We took advantage of an overdue renovation at the Bangkok Regional Hub to go green. More natural light, energy-saving LED lighting, limited print waste and paperless processes are all resulting in massive savings to the planet, and our budget.

Challenging the Tesla S model, ahead of Greta Thunberg, and long before UNDP's corporate ‘greening moonshot’ was a twinkle in the mind’s sky, the good ship called “Bangkok Regional Hub” was slicing fast into green waters.

As the construction of temples go, this too was an epic operation, led by the diversified team and a bevy of like-minded ‘do-greeners.’ The ‘redo and reno’ of the Bangkok Regional Hub, launched in 2016, was modelled on green principles. It incorporated LED lighting; glass paneling, along with other features, to merge the outside with the inside, allowing natural light to stream in; and it made way for natural fauna that now hem workstations.  

And, soon form followed structure. The very next year, in 2017, we stopped paper-heavy sourcing processes and moved our procurement process to electronic tendering that enabled bid solicitation using the Enterprise Resource Planning platform. By the end of 2018, the use of paper use was slashed by nearly half.

Hang on, we were only beginning. Coupled with the e-tendering we kicked off “follow-me-printing.” No, that does not imply someone tagged along with you to the printer. It meant a staff member swipes the UNID card to activate printing, scanning and copying. The change was dramatic, no more itchy fingers hitting on the print or photocopy buttons with abandon, and very rare instances of ‘forgotten copies’ in printing trays, and paper dumps in recycling bins. This resulted in enhanced awareness, and it inspired responsibility and forced accountability.  Beat that innovation! 

Wait, it gets better. We launched a campaign to reduce color printing; number of copies printed, and we pushed hard at staff to go “soft” on paper, our motto is ‘JUST STOP PRINTING.’ In parallel, we moved most of our travel management services to an online booking tool integrated in UNDP Intranet, with the active collaboration of General Operations Team in New York that helped reduce printing further and even emails!

This campaign steamed ahead early this year when the Hub moved to adopt DocuSign for contract processing that helped creating a trail of who signed what, when, and where with geo-location tagging.  Hear this, all associated documents are stored in UNDP Cloud with no paper exchanging hands and electronically tracked every step of the way – paper is turning to an endangered commodity in the Bangkok Hub.

OK, now this may sound mundane but on average a procurement action in UNDP involves something between 25 to 500 pages of information. Imagine the print burden of some 700+ low to high value procurement processes per year in the Regional Hub. DocuSign replaces this massive print load in exchange for $2 per process! Beyond the obvious savings on paper and reduction in printing and archiving costs contributing to lesser CO2 footprint, we saved much more on management and staff time in transaction processing. The latter allows staff to devote time to value-added work, while having a positive impact on the environment.

Now, we are set to move with adoption of DocuSign beyond procurement to other areas such as human resources processes, donor reporting, and similar with a view to “end the use of paper.” The larger impact we anticipate is the roll out of these practices across 24 Country Offices in Asia and the Pacific Region in the next 3-6 months.

The cutdown of paper use, energy consumption, and time saving itself brings together staggering savings, which will have impact within the region and beyond. This is simply the first leg of our green journey; we are brimming with ideas on how to be better than best and would like to hear your thoughts and not just prayers. 

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