• Lead-organizer: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • 19:00 - 20:30
  • Date: 21 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-8

Climate Neutral UN Participation at Rio +20 by South-South Cooperation

Organizing partners

Special Unit for South-South Cooperation
UNDP Environment and Energy Group


The President of the General Assembly is launching a system-wide initiative to offset the carbon footprint from UN staff participation in Rio +20. The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation has been tasked to facilitate this initiative by building partnerships and leveraging the services of its flagship exchange platform - South-South Global Assets and Technology Exchange (SS-GATE) - to offset the estimated 3,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the participation (including travel) of approximately 1,400 UN staff in Rio +20. At this side event, the President of the General Assembly will formally launch the initiative and recognize partners and donors. A reception will follow.

Detailed programme

"The United Nations has played a key role in elevating the profile of climate change on the international agenda, and continues to support Member States in their efforts to reduce emissions, strengthen adaptation and respond to this immense global challenge. Such work has a natural complement in our in-house drive to reduce the UN?s own carbon footprint. What we demand of others, we must do ourselves."

- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN (2011 UNEP)

1. With over 50,000 participants expected to attend Rio +20, environmental sustainability must be achieved through a cohesive approach with key actors such as the host government of Brazil.

2. The UN staff delegation to Rio +20 of approximately 1,400 members is expected to generate an estimated 3,600 tonnes of carbon emissions, largely from air travel.

3. In response to discussions with UN leadership, the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation stands ready to make an important contribution to these efforts by leveraging its flagship project, South-South Global Assets and Technology Exchange (SS-GATE) to offset the entire carbon footprint from UN staff participation in Rio +20.

4. Following up on consultations with the UN DESA Division for Sustainable Development and at the Expert Group Meeting on Sustainable Events, the Special Unit has partnered with the UNDP Bureau of Development Policy Energy and Environment & Energy Group to calculate the total emissions from UN staff participation at Rio +20.

5. Since its establishment by the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation supported by UNCTAD, UNIDO, G-77 and China, and many other global development partners, SS-GATE has played an important role in the developing world by serving as one of the only global exchange platforms of asset and technology transfer leveraging South-South and triangular cooperation. The SS-GATE platform includes both a web-based and on-the-ground network of currently 36 country centres throughout the global South and provides matching and value added support services to facilitate the transfer of assets and technology. SS-GATE has been endorsed by the General Assembly on multiple occasions, including in the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (A/RES/64/222).

6. Targeted Approach: Carbon emissions from the entire UN staff participation in Rio +20 will be offset by Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) generated from projects that meet the strictest requirements under the Clean Development Mechanism. To calculate a cost range for offsetting the UN?s participation in Rio+20, a lower estimate of US$10/tonne and a high estimate of US$30/tonne are applied, providing a range of US$36,000 to US$108,000.

7. Emissions Calculation Methodology: The emissions calculation will be based on a confirmed number of UN staff participants. The key data input is the number of UN participants travelling to and from and staying in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In this case ?participants? refers to everybody travelling on an UN-purchased air ticket, including staff, consultants, guests, speakers, etc. Also included are staff members travelling as part of official delegations as well as those travelling to side events only.

8. Partnership Roles:
a. Special Unit for South-South Cooperation: Building partnerships and managing the initiative through its flagship project SS-GATE
b. SS-GATE: Securing donors and providing end-to-end transaction services to offset the entire UN carbon footprint at Rio +20
c. UNDESA: Coordinating overall supervision as Rio+20 Secretariat and providing UN agency registration data
d. UNDP BDP/EEG: Calculating emissions and providing advisory technical services

9. Potential Speakers:
a. President of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly
b. UNDP Administrator
c. SU/SSC representative
d. UNDP BDP/EEG representative
e. Beneficiary/project country representative
f. Donor representative

8. Thematic Focus: Emissions Offsetting and South-South Cooperation as complementary approaches to climate neutrality

9. Potential Contribution to UNCSD/Rio +20 Outcome: In addressing climate change and sustainable development, we all have to take stock, and then look for ways to do our part, to walk the talk.

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