United Nations
Environment Programme

Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability Framework

The Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability Framework improves business practices of the UN Environment by integrating standardized and structured sustainability measures across all of its work. This Framework sets minimum sustainability standards for UN Environment and its implementing/executing partners, and enables UN Environment to anticipate and manage emerging environmental, social and economic issues

The Framework serves six broad purposes:

  • Getting ready for the implementation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda through closer engagement with UN entities and partners to strengthen development aid by routinely integrating the environmental, social and economic dimensions related to its activities.
  • It sets new standards of sustainability for the operations confirming accountability of UN Environment to member states, and to the funders.
  • It enables UN Environment to minimize potential risks and harm while enhancing capabilities and credibility of the UN Environment with strengthened partnerships.
  • It allows UN Environment to identify the full life-cycle costs of its operational choices and to operate more sustainably while improving efficiency over time.
  • It enables UN Environment to respond more promptly and effectively to emerging environmental, social and economic issues as an attractive and trusted implementing/executing partner.

The Framework serves its broad purposes by employing two overarching Principles--the precautionary approach and human rights-based approach--plus nine Safeguard Standards, which are: biodiversity conservation; resource efficiency and pollution prevention; safety of dams; involuntary resettlement; indigenous peoples; labor and working conditions; protection of tangible cultural heritage; gender equality and economic sustainability. These Safeguard Standards mainly reflect a “do no harm” commitment, but as the implementation of the Framework evolves, they will be expanded into a comprehensive “do good” commitment in line with intention of the UN Environment to promote environmental, social and economic sustainability in what the organization does.