"People have always moved due to the environment, and they will continue to do so in the future. Environmental migration is a present reality. Disasters displace millions every year, and climate change already affects migration patterns around the world. Even when societies are slowed down by COVID-19, nothing stops cyclones and floods, the climate continues to change, the environment keeps degrading, and many people are still forced out of their homes. Others, on the contrary, are trapped in environmentally fragile regions or cannot resort to usual seasonal agricultural activities.
On World Environment Day, I join the voices of the UN leaders calling to protect our biodiversity and to take climate action. Even while we battle this global pandemic, we must not forget the critical impacts of environmental change and make sure our recovery keeps focused on climate change and biodiversity.
Let’s take action now, for people and for nature!"
António Vitorino, Director-General, IOM, June 2020
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recognizes that a healthy environment is inherently linked to the safety, security and well-being of migrants and societies. As part of IOM’s mission to uphold the well-being of migrants and communities, IOM made an institutional commitment in 2017 to mainstream environmental sustainability in its strategies, projects and programs, and facility management and operations. To achieve these objectives, IOM launched its Environmental Sustainability Programme (ESP), with a focus on three key environmental management areas: energy, water, and waste management.
The goal of the Environmental Sustainability Programme is to build on already available good practices and policies and strengthen internal governance related to environmental sustainability.
Since joining the United Nations Environment Management Group (EMG) in 2017, and in order to adhere to the environmental sustainability commitments of the United Nations, IOM has been gradually improving its environmental reporting. Environmental reporting was piloted in three offices in 2017, ten offices in 2018, and was rolled out globally in 2019.
The efforts of the IOM Environmental Sustainability Programme are aligned with the UN system-wide commitments, including the new Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020–2030 – Phase I.
Environmental Management System and Emission Reduction Efforts
IOM is institutionally committed to work towards the highest possible level of environmental sustainability in its programs, facilities and operation. The Organization aims to set up an environmental management system by 2030, in line with existing UN system-wide commitments.
IOM has already developed a variety of policy tools seeking to reduce the environmental impacts of its operations through efficient resource management.
IOM also incorporates environmental sustainability principles through project development and implementation. IOM’s Project Handbook, the main internal guidance document for project design and implementation, highlights environmental sustainability as a guiding principle.
IOM offsets all unavoidable emissions deriving from facilities and operations through the procurement of UNFCCC certified carbon credits. In 2020, 47,385 tons of CO2eq worth of carbon credits were purchased. This amount was determined using the UN Greening the Blue verified total emissions (45,128 tons of CO2eq) from 2019 and incorporating an additional 5% error margin on top of that.
IOM launched its waste inventory in 2019 for the 2018 reporting year and received waste-related data from IOM offices located in 75 countries. In 2020, IOM offices from 72 countries participated in the waste inventory for the 2019 reporting year. The waste inventory collects data on the amount and type of non-hazardous and hazardous waste generated onsite and the ways this waste is managed. The inventory captures IOM offices’ waste footprint and highlights good practices related to refusing, reducing, reusing and recycling.
Water and Wastewater Management
IOM launched its water inventory in 2019 for the 2018 reporting year and received water-related data from IOM offices located in 91 countries. In 2020, IOM offices from 84 countries participated in the water inventory for the 2019 reporting year. The water inventory collects data on the volume and source of water used onsite and highlights good practices.
Greening the Blue
Greening the Blue is a UN-wide initiative to engage and support UN System personnel at all levels of the organisation in the transition to integrate environmental considerations into UN management decisions and actions. IOM is part of this initiative.
IOM continues its participation in the UN environmental inventory, as part of the UN system-wide commitment to advance environmental sustainability, including climate action, and to publish transparent environmental performance data through the annual Greening the Blue report. In line with the iterative approach, IOM is committed to further improving data quality, consistency and accuracy of the environmental inventory.
IOM is working towards launching its first Environmental Policy, which seeks to align IOM activities with global environmental standards to improve environmental sustainability, resource efficiency and quality management. IOM is also in the process of developing its institutional environmental sustainability strategy in line with the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations system 2020–2030 – Phase I.
For more information, please visit the Greening the Blue website, where this content was originally published.
Photo: © United Nations Environment Programme, 2020