IPU Logo-middleInter-Parliamentary Union  
IPU Logo-bottomChemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland  


Adopted by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)

1. Introduction

The activities of the IPU have a direct impact on the environment.  In order of importance, official travel, paper consumption, energy consumption and waste produce the most adverse effects.  The IPU also has significant indirect impact on the environment through advocacy and the actions of its Members.

Through this policy statement, the IPU undertakes to act in an environmentally responsible manner by identifying and managing environmental risks, promoting environmentally friendly behaviour, and continuously improving environmental performance.

2. Environmental policy statement

The IPU recognizes that good environmental management is one component of sustainable development, and it will strive to continually improve its performance in this area.

The IPU is committed to minimizing any environmental damage that activities in pursuit of its mission may cause – whether from day-to-day operations or from policies and projects.

The IPU will work in partnership with others seeking long term sustainable solutions to global threats to the environment.

3. Scope

This policy applies to all operations of the IPU.  All employees of the organization are expected to conduct their work in a manner compatible with the environmental policy objectives.

4. Policy objectives

The IPU aims to achieve improvement in environmental performance by:

  • Advocating good environmental policy and practice;
  • Minimizing the consumption of energy and resources;
  • Reducing the need for transportation, and encouraging the use of the least damaging forms of transport whenever possible;
  • Taking opportunities for waste minimization and using renewable, sustainably managed and recycled materials where practical;
  • Taking a life-cycle approach to procurement;
  • Recovering and recycling materials, wherever feasible;
  • Quantifying the organization’s environmental impact in order to monitor and report on performance improvements;
  • Incorporating environmental considerations in all relevant policies, programmes and operating systems.

5. Policy requirements

The IPU will achieve its environmental aims through its own activities and through activities which seek to influence others, i.e. through IPU operations and programmes.  The IPU will apply its environmental principles by:

  • Promoting environmental action by Member Parliaments;
  • Implementing and continuously reviewing an environmental management system;
  • Publishing a summary of its environmental performance in the Annual Report;
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets for each of the significant direct effects and publishing its performance against these targets in an Annual Report;
  • Monitoring and applying best available environmental practices, techniques and technology in its operations where economically viable;
  • Voluntarily complying with environmental legislation as it applies to its operations and striving to exceed requirements where viable;
  • Reducing the damaging impact on climate change from travel;
  • Ensuring that eco-standards are applied to all procurement activities and applying life-cycle thinking in its procurement practices;
  • Ensuring that major suppliers of goods and services consider environmental objectives and adhere to the IPU’s environmental policies and guidance while working for the IPU;
  • Communicating the environmental policy and guidance to employees, suppliers, contractors and other stakeholders and encouraging environmentally sensitive behaviour;
  • Participating in appropriate external environmental initiatives;
  • Assessing and addressing all new policies, activities, development and practices for their effects on the environment.

6. Leadership, review and accountability

The Secretary General and senior managers will review environmental performance data on a regular basis to ensure a high level of leadership and support for the environmental management system, monitor environmental performance and influence corporate decision-making.  The Environmental Policy will be reviewed periodically and will be submitted to the governing bodies for approval.  The Secretary General will report regularly to the Governing Bodies on the IPU’s environmental management performance.

* * *


In approving the 2008 budget, the IPU Governing Council made a commitment to the environment and decided to act on climate change.  The budget acknowledged the IPU’s greenhouse gas emissions, set targets for reductions, and proposed appropriate mitigating measures, including the purchase of carbon offset credits.  As part of the IPU’s commitment to tackle climate change, the Organization has established 2000 as its base year for counting its GHG emissions and tracking progress.  The goal is to become more systematic and innovative in conservation efforts. 

Recent efforts and achievements with regard to the environment include the following initiatives:

Management systems

A good environmental management system ensures a process of continual improvement as well as compliance with national and international standards and voluntary commitments.  The IPU has taken several steps towards developing an effective environmental management system.

  • 2008 – Formulation of an environmental policy
    A draft document outlining an environmental policy framework within which to carry out future IPU activities was presented to the 250th session of the Executive Committee.  The policy document has not yet been adopted.
  • 2007 – Appropriation of funds to offset carbon emissions
    At its 181st session, the Governing Council debated and approved an appropriation to offset the carbon emissions resulting from official travel by the Secretariat of the IPU.  The approved funds have been reserved within the Working Capital Fund pending a decision on their utilisation.
  • 2008 – First attempts at measuring and monitoring environmental impact
    The IPU has taken the first steps to establish systems to monitor and control environmental impacts, primarily through the accounting system.  For example, the CO2 emissions of each journey are estimated before the mission is approved.  Also, invoices with quantitative environmental data have been identified for further analysis.
  • 2008 – Environmentally friendly amendment to the host parliament agreement
    The amended text of the agreement recommends that host parliaments consider all possible environmentally thoughtful measures (e.g. minimize carbon emissions, save energy, practice recycling, etc.) when organizing an Assembly of the IPU.

Programme opportunities

The IPU has opportunities to work with its members to promote environmental issues and, specifically, combat climate change. 

  • 2008 – Theme of debates in the Second Standing Committee
    The Second Standing Committee held a panel discussion on Climate Change, Sustainable Development Models, and Renewable Energies, which will be the subject of the debate at the 120th Assembly.

  • 2007 – Presidential Declaration on Climate Change
    The overall theme of the 116th Assembly was Global Warming: Ten years after Kyoto.  Following a panel discussion on the environmental and economic repercussions of climate change, the Assembly endorsed a Presidential Declaration on Climate Change, which called for action by all parliaments to reinforce policy and legislation and enhance international cooperation on climate change.
  • 2007 – WTO Public Forum
    The IPU and the European Parliament organized a Parliamentary Panel entitled "Trade and Climate Change: Is Trade Killing Our Planet?" within in the overall programme of the annual WTO Public Forum.  The subject of global warming and climate change has been placed squarely on the political agendas of governments, parliaments and international organizations. In most countries, it is parliaments that review policy options, oversee government action and draw up the necessary legislation and budgets for action with regard to global warming.
  • 2007 – Regional Capacity-Building Seminar on Sustainable Development
    The seminar for the Asia-Pacific region was organized with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at the invitation of the National Assembly of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.  It addressed poverty reduction, energy and biodiversity, which have been identified as priorities in the region.  The seminar aimed to help parliaments enhance their environmental and pro-development legislation and policy.

In-house ecology

The IPU directly impacts the environment in several ways:  Consumption of electricity and water, travel for official purposes, using paper, making waste and offices require heating and lighting.  Improving efficiency in the use of resources and minimizing waste improves environmental performance.  Measures include investments in energy-efficient technology, and encouraging good housekeeping measures.

  • 2008 – Acquisition of a more energy-efficient vehicle
    For the transportation of delegates, the IPU acquired a Volkswagen Combi Transporter powered by a diesel engine which produces less carbon emission than a similar vehicle powered by benzene.
  • 2008 – Business travel
    Travel is the main contributor to the IPU's greenhouse gas emissions. However, travel is essential for our work promoting international dialogue and assisting parliaments around the world, and the amount of official travel has increased since the base year 2000.  We are experimenting with using video conferencing rather than direct meetings but with limited impact so far.  For official travel, the IPU has set aside funds to invest in what are termed "offsetting" projects. These theoretically reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and therefore contribute to our CO2 emission reduction target of 10 per cent below 2000 levels.
  • 2007 – Innovation in waste and recycling
    Waste is one of the most visible environmental impacts of in-house operations, and recycling initiatives enable staff members to actively engage in conservation.  Since 2006, the IPU has systematically recycled all office waste paper using the services of Papirec SA.  Since 2007 all aluminium and polyethylene therephthalate (PET or PETE) plastic is recycled.
  • 2007 – IPU purchases electricity only from renewable sources
    The electrical energy supplied to the IPU under the SIG Vitale Bleu label is entirely from hydro dams.  At least one quarter of this energy comes from new or completely renovated facilities.  The origin of the energy is mostly Swiss and a part is produced directly by SIG at Geneva.  This choice of energy supply contributes to the development and modernisation of hydro installations.
  • 2006 – Paper
    Using less paper and switching to recycled paper or paper from sustainable sources results in many environmental benefits, such as using fewer resources and producing less pollution.  Since 2006, the IPU uses 100 per cent recycled paper manufactured to ISO 14001 standards for most of its needs.  Coloured paper used by the IPU carries a Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label.  Products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
  • 2008 – IPU publications
    The IPU started the process of verifying that the print shops that are used for publications such as the annual report are certified to meet FSC or PEFC standards.  PEFC promotes sustainable forest management - environmentally, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations - through independent third party forest certification.

The chart below shows progress made towards achieving the CO2 emission reduction target of 10 per cent below 2000 levels, and various other environmental indicators.

Environmental indicator Unit 2008 2007 2000
Direct gas consumption mWh 392 341  
Direct electric consumption mWh 152 162  
Direct fuel consumption litres n/a n/a  
CO2 emissions from regular staff travel tonnes 876 n/a 958
CO2 emissions from project travel tonnes 873 n/a 192
Total CO2 emissions tonnes 1953 n/a 1256
CO2 offset tonnes 1242 0 0
Net CO2 footprint tonnes 711 n/a 1256
Total water consumption m3 434 700*  

Legend: mWh = megawatt hour; m3 = cubic metre, n/a = not yet available, * = data integrity issue

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 120th Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 697 Kb). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader