On World Environment Day, 5 June 2007, the Secretary-General pledged to explore ways of making the United Nations more climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable and to develop a climate-neutral approach to its premises and operations. The Environment Management Group, under the leadership of the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was, in line with that commitment, given the task of carrying out a study of how best to proceed with making the United Nations climate neutral.

During the Board’s consideration of the issue, the importance of the United Nations system leading by example was noted, and it was underlined that the climate-neutral United Nations initiative was both symbolically important and administratively possible. Following a review of the Environment Management Group’s report entitled “Strategy for a climate-neutral United Nations”, the Board released a statement whereby executive heads committed their organizations to moving towards climate neutrality at Headquarters and at the United Nations centres for facility operations and travel.

In particular, executive heads committed their organizations to completion of the following by the end of 2009: (a) estimating their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with accepted international standards; (b) undertaking efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to the extent possible; and (c) analysing the cost implications and exploring budgetary modalities, including consulting with governing bodies as needed, of purchasing carbon offsets to eventually reach climate neutrality.