The Rio+20 outcome document called upon the UN system to integrate sustainable development across its work including in improving management of its facilities and operations taking into account sustainable development practices and building on existing efforts for ensuring cost effectiveness. The UN Secretary General has expressed its determination to have the UN lead by example and maintain sustainability as a top priority.
In the last few years , the UN entities have individually or collectively through the support of the EMG and the UN SUN facility engaged in a range of corporate environmental sustainability measures. Heads of agencies and the CEB engaged in the process through the 2007 UN Climate Neutral Strategy and the 2013 decision to implement Environment Management Systems.
The work carried by the EMG and UNEP SUN in support of environmental sustainability has provided a good base for undertaking a review of effectiveness of such measures and share lessons learned for further cooperation.
It was in this context, that the Senior Officials of the EMG at their 18th meeting in November 2012 agreed to establish a peer-review process on the environmental profile of the EMG members strongly inspired by the OECD, UNECE and other Peer-Review processes. UNIDO, on behalf of the UN entities based in the Vienna International Centre, WMO and UNEP were the first three volunteers for the peer-reviews during the pilot phase in 2013-2014. The IMF was peer reviewed in 2015. In 2016-2017 the peer review concept is being trialled at field level, where the field offices of WFP, UNOPS, UNDP and UNRWA in Amman, Jordan are reviewed for their environmental performance.
A review of the environmental performance of a volunteer UN entity is carried out by Peer Review teams composed of representatives from UN entities, international organizations, and stakeholders such as local government authorities. The principles that govern the EMG peer review process include mutual trust among peers, voluntary participation, factual evidence, independent assessment and non-binding recommendation which differentiates it from traditional environmental and energy audits.
The Peer Review process is guided by the Peer Review Body (PRB), composed of representatives from various UN entities, that has a supervisory function for the program and a reviewing function of individual UN entities including the finalization of the recommendations. The PRB meets when reports the Peer Review Report is ready for discussion and validation. The PRB reports to the EMG SOM and is supported by the EMG Secretariat.
Each Peer Review Report includes two standard topics for review: GHG emissions from travel and GHG emissions from buildings and two or more optional themes chosen by the reviewed entity such as sustainable procurement, waste management, water management, ICT and greening events and meetings, local transport, staff awareness involvement, training and environmental liability. The boundary for the reviews varies significantly depending on the entity. The report also provides a chapter of recommendations for consideration of the PRB.
The Peer Review process contributes to enhanced individual and collective performance of participating 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 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Secretary General determination to have the UN lead by example and maintain sustainability as top priority.