To enhance the environmental sustainability in the internal work of the UN system, the senior officials of the EMG at their 18th meeting in November 2012 welcomed the pilot phase of the peer review process of EMG members for 2013-2014 with a focus on environmental management. They also welcomed the interest expressed by UNIDO, on behalf of the UN entities based in the Vienna International Centre, WMO and UNEP to be the first volunteers for the peer-review.
Peer reviews have proven to be an important tool for international co-operation and progress, in a variety of policy fields, including environmental policies. While this instrument is used in several intergovernmental organizations (e.g. the IMF country surveillance mechanism, the WTO trade policy review mechanism, the EU reviews for national labor market and social inclusion policies, the UN ECE environmental reviews), it is most commonly associated with the OECD experience. These peer review processes rely on mutual trust among peers and confidence in the peer review process. They contribute to enhanced individual and collective performance of participating entities. Review reports include factual evidence, independent assessment and non-binding recommendations and are approved by the peer review body.
The UN entities have engaged in a range of environmental sustainability measures in their management activities (e.g. indicators, objectives, guidelines, safeguards, frameworks, strategies, actions) which together provide a basis for conducting peer reviews. They also provide an asset for individual and collective progress along the sequence intentions-actions-results towards ultimately achieving objectives.
The chosen themes for the Peer Review cover a range of corporate environment management concerns including GHG emissions from building/ facilities and air travel, while reviewed entities are given the option to choose two more themes from a range, including waste management; ICT and greening of meetings; water management and staff awareness, involvement and training. The boundary for the reviews varies significantly depending on the entity, from the review of the entity itself and its service contractors, to the review of an entity’s entire set of buildings, to the review of another entity’s global operations.
The Peer Review expert teams typically include participation from the EMG secretariat, with the support of experts from other UN entities (typically 2) and from interested local authorities (e.g. Geneva, Vienna). There is a strong interest for recommendations bringing environmental and economic benefits (i.e. cost savings) to be obtained from the reviews by UN entities
The EMG peer review mechanism is a way to strengthen the UN leadership role and the UN support to its Member States in furthering the global sustainability agenda. This is in line with the Rio+20 Summit outcomes and the UN Secretary General determination to have the UN lead by example and maintain sustainability as top priority.