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Corporate Environmental Responsibility


FAO Corporate Environmental Responsibility Policy

Agricultural sectors are inherently dependent on climate and consequently may be negatively affected by climate change. FAO therefore dedicates a significant amount of resources towards agricultural development in areas that are often most vulnerable to climate change. By increasing efficiency and reducing unnecessary negative impacts on the environment, the Organization increases the success towards achieving its five Strategic Objectives established in 2013. Not only do these measures help combat climate change, they also often lead to financial savings and resiliency against external forces.

In line with the Strategic Objectives and the Environmental and Social Management Guidelines, this policy spans all of FAO’s operations worldwide while primarily focusing on the Administrative areas including Facilities and Infrastructure, Travel, and Procurement. Taking into consideration the endorsement by the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB) of the Climate Neutral United Nations movement and the CEB commitment to implement Environmental Management Systems at the agency level, this policy commits FAO to the following principles and accountability framework.

The Organization will:

  • Strive to comply with the applicable guidelines related to its Corporate Environmental Responsibility activities;
  • Monitor and measure its impact on the environment resulting from daily operations, benchmark with other similar organizations, and set biennial targets for continuous improvement;
  • Actively pursue energy, water and travel efficiencies, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in all parts of its operations, departments and functions by periodically setting concrete and realistic targets;
  • Seek to reduce waste production and further improve differentiation for recycling;
  • Integrate environmental criteria into the procurement process where viable and in the best interests of the Organization and its stakeholders;
  • Strive to integrate environmental responsibility aspects into the way it organizes and conducts conferences and meetings;
  • Strive to become climate neutral no later than 2020 and thereafter by offsetting the emissions that cannot be reduced, via purchasing carbon credits that meet the standards of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) at a minimum;
  • Collaborate with other UN agencies to share knowledge and best practices. The Organization will also contribute to climate neutrality networks within the High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM) and the Environment Management Group (EMG);
  • Systematically implement an Environmental Management System as mandated by the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB). At a minimum, this will include:
  1. A document management system which monitors and tracks past, current and planned Corporate Environmental Responsibility related activities as well as progress;
  2. An annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of its facilities and travel (HQ and Decentralized Offices). FAO will use the same boundaries for its carbon footprint as indicated in the UN Climate Neutral Strategy and further agreed upon in the UN Environment Management Group (EMG)
  3. An annual publication of FAO’s Corporate Environmental Responsibility Report which includes an Emission Reduction Strategy.

Responsibility and Accountability

The FAO Corporate Services Department (CS) will be responsible for advancing these principles and activities throughout FAO Headquarters. The Assistant Director-Generals/Regional Representatives will play a similar role within their respective regions, in collaboration with support staff from Headquarters. Specifically, they are called upon to:

  • Encourage offices to participate in the annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory exercise;
  • Encourage and support awareness-raising initiatives and participation by staff in activities that help reduce the Organization’s environmental impact such as improving efficiency and waste management programmes;
  • Champion best practices and initiatives that help reduce the FAO’s environmental impact and simultaneously improve operational effectiveness.

While it is important that Senior Management provide the necessary leadership, each person working within FAO also bears responsibility for their actions which affect the Organization’s environmental impact.