Towards an eco-friendly, sustainable and inclusive UNICEF
UNICEF Timor Leste: Towards an eco-friendly, sustainable and inclusive work environment
UNICEF Timor-Leste country office joins the challenge to ‘walk the talk’ - and the results are speaking for themselves.
UNICEF Timor-Leste has been working relentlessly to reduce its carbon footprint. By aligning with the global movement towards positive climate action, inclusivity and sustainability, the UNICEF Timor-Leste office is contributing to ensuring a safe and healthy future for every child.
UN House, in the heart of Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, is an oasis of lush green gardens and towering trees. Within it is the UNICEF country office, nestled behind screens of shrubbery and potted plants. The living beauty within the compound inspires UNICEF staff daily. Its preservation is paramount, as is its accessibility to people of all abilities.
In 2016, various agencies within the UN House compound jointly introduced a solar power system to supply their offices with clean and renewable energy. The solar power produced is meeting approximately 50 percent of the annual electricity consumption of UN House and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 236 tons annually.
This step was the first in UNICEF Timor-Leste’s own journey to becoming a greener, and more inclusive place for staff and visitors alike. “We want to go further. We want to be more green. We want to be more efficient. And we also want our staff to live in a very good environment. Our country office wants to go further – we want to create a culture of green.” said Valerie Taton, UNICEF Representative for Timor-Leste.
The future is now
To achieve its vision of a “culture of green”, the UNICEF Timor-Leste country office has launched an action plan to incorporate the global eco-efficiency and inclusivity objectives outlined in the Procedure on Eco-Efficiency and Inclusive Access in UNICEF Premises and Operations. Aiming to achieve not only cost savings but to strike a balance of economic, environmental and social benefits, the procedure was launched in early 2018 and clearly demonstrates that operational eco-efficiency and sustainability have become part of the organization’s strategic global priorities.
Walking the talk
These changes and others to follow are a result not only of a global procedural framework, but of a targeted behavior-change campaign. To be green, after all, does not happen in a day – it is a commitment to long-term, sustainable changes that will make the real difference we need to see.
At UNICEF Timor-Leste, replacing old air-conditioning units with efficient eco-friendly units, and swapping power-hungry light bulbs with friendlier LEDs has resulted in a 19 per cent reduction in electricity consumption. The office has also contributed to the local economy by opting for locally made bamboo office furniture which are durable and eco-friendly.
Further, new ramps and accessibility points have been built and the doorways to each office building has been widened to ensure inclusive access for all staff and visitors. These changes are now a familiar part of the way the office operates, and have become the norm for staff, who now ‘walk the talk’ each day.
UNICEF Timor Leste Green Team
A dedicated Green Team has been formed and taken charge of implementing several initiatives that aim to create not only an improved working environment for staff but a healthier planet and more sustainable future for every child.
Among these actions have been the promotion of a plastic-free office environment by handing out reusable water bottles; a drive to have all lights, air conditioners and computers switched off while not in use; and encouraging more responsible consumption of paper (the office reduced its paper usage by 35 percent in 2018 compared to 2017). While these measures may be small in everyday practice, their long-term impact is significant.