The United Nations plays a leading role in guiding environmental governance and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including MDG 7 on environmental sustainability. UNOPS contributes to such efforts by including the environment as both an implementation support practice (ISP) and a cross-cutting concern.
Environmental sustainability is mainstreamed into all of UNOPS operations. This work is done in partnership with other members of the UN family, multilateral and bilateral agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations. Large scale and small grants projects, worth more than $100 million annually, are executed in over 120 countries worldwide.
Key environmental sectors
In support of its partners UNOPS helps address environmental concerns by focusing on building national capacities for environmental management and raising local, regional and global awareness.
UNOPS environment portfolio includes projects addressing biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, land degradation, international waters, ozone depletion, chemical pollution, environmental risk management and post-conflict and natural disaster management as related to the environment.
UNOPS provides services in the following areas:
Through local and regional initiatives, UNOPS helps conserve biodiversity. Projects include: managing transboundary protected areas such as those within the Congo Basin and the Upper Guinean hotspot; conserving biodiversity in production landscapes, for example through the preservation of fisheries in several large marine ecosystems in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe; and conserving endemic livestock species in four countries in West Africa.
Learn more about UNOPS biodiversity projects.
UNOPS provides services to climate change initiatives that include capacity development and technical assistance projects. These projects help countries adapt to and mitigate climate change by developing policies, practices and frameworks to conduct climate risk analyses, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience. For example, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and with funding from the Government of Japan, UNOPS is assisting 21 African countries to adjust their national development policies to incorporate climate change risks and opportunities. UNOPS is also providing management and procurement services to the Secretariat of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD).
Learn more about UNOPS climate change projects.
UNOPS executes projects to prevent and reverse the degradation of transboundary water systems, including multi-country rivers and large marine ecosystems such as oceans, lake basins, and shared groundwater resources. Partners include UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank, with funds provided mainly by the GEF. The 30-plus projects in the portfolio help countries work together to fight ecological stress, such as overfishing, industrial pollution, drought, habitat changes and invasive species. Projects have covered areas such as the Western Indian Ocean region, the Caspian, Yellow, Arafura and Timor Seas, the Danube and Nile river basins, Lake Chad and the Benguela Current marine ecosystem.
Learn more about UNOPS support for international waters projects.
Land degradation reduces the ability of land to grow food, provide products and maintain healthy ecosystems. On behalf of partners, UNOPS supports projects to combat land degradation, including a GEF project that is helping build national and regional capacities and encouraging investment in sustainable land management in 48 developing countries.
Small Grants Programme
The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) provides grants to non-governmental and community based organizations in developing countries to help them tackle climate change, conserve biodiversity, protect international waters, reduce the impact of pollutants and prevent land degradation. Besides benefiting the environment, SGP projects seek to generate sustainable livelihoods in local communities and reduce poverty in the world’s poorest areas. UNOPS has supported the GEF-SGP since its inception in 1992, executing more than 13,500 grants, valued at $682 million. UNOPS supports programmes in 123 countries, initiating close to 4,000 new grant projects each year.
Learn more about UNOPS support to the Small Grants Programme.
Post-conflict and natural disaster
War and natural disasters cause enormous environmental damage, jeopardizing the livelihoods of the many people in developing countries that rely directly on natural resources. UNOPS supports the work of the UNEP Post Conflict and Disaster Management Branch in Afghanistan and Sudan, providing management, procurement and capacity building services. UNOPS is also supporting environmental sustainability in Haiti, following the 2010 earthquake. This includes supporting initiatives on land use management, reforestation and the construction of solar-powered homes.
Environmental risk management
In addition to assisting emergency response efforts, UNOPS helps create systems to limit environmental risk. On behalf of the Government of Argentina, UNOPS helped UNDP procure specialized equipment to monitor seismological activity. UNOPS is also supporting environmental risk management in Haiti, installing weather stations, river level monitoring and flood risk mapping.
Environmental sustainability and adaptation to climate change is one of UNOPS four high-level goals. UNOPS targets environmental sustainability as a cross-cutting objective across all its projects by supporting projects that carry out sustainable procurement, ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, improve waste management, incorporate sustainable building techniques and promote renewable energy.
For example, UNOPS is managing the construction of a climate neutral UN Regional Hub in Panama City, designed to be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in Latin America.
Learn more about UNOPS and environmental sustainability.