Sustainable conference

Welcome to a sustainable and climate-neutral COP 23!

As part of the overall sustainability strategy of the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the efforts of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety as well as the City of Bonn to organize a sustainable COP 23, a number of actions are being undertaken to reduce the carbon and overall environmental footprint of the conference and offset unavoidable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to it. Your cooperation and support in this important endeavour are highly appreciated.

In the present context, unless stated differently, sustainability refers to the environmental dimension of sustainable development as defined by the Brundtland Commission and the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). More concretely, the UN Sustainable Events Guide defines a sustainable event as “designed, organized and implemented in a way that minimizes potential negative impacts and leaves a beneficial legacy for the host community and all involved”.

In case of any questions please visit a UN Information Desk at either conference zone.

Sustainable COP 23 in the news

The icons of relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included in the sections below illustrate how the COP 23 sustainability strategy contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


  • If possible, choose a hotel that operates in an environmentally responsible manner (e.g. sustainable energy management and reuse of towels and linens).
  • Upon request, Tourismus & Congress, the tourism agency of Bonn and the region, will inform participants on green features and eco certifications of hotels within its portfolio.

  • To complement available hotel capacity, Tourismus & Congress also facilitate contact with Bonn residents who have volunteered to offer free homestay opportunities to COP participants. This contributes to sustainability by making use of capacity that already exists.
Climate-neutral conference

To achieve the overall goal of a climate neutral conference (which has become standard practice for COPs), the amount of GHG emissions generated in connection with the sessions will be reduced to the extent possible. Yet, certain emissions (such as those associated with travel, which is responsible for the lion’s share of the overall footprint) remain unavoidable and will therefore be offset.

In close coordination with UN Climate Change, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and its scientific advisor, the Oeko-Institut, will calculate GHG emissions associated with the conference (for both the Bula and Bonn Zones) in accordance with robust international standards and offset them by purchasing certified emission reduction credits (CERs) preferably from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects registered in small island developing States (in recognition of the fact that the COP 23 Presidency will be held by Fiji).

Other criteria for the selection of CERs include a high sustainability impact in the host country; no HFC-23, N2O, super-critical coal or large hydropower projects; preference for credits from the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period.

Climate Neutral Now

  • You can make your travel (and the rest of your life!) climate neutral and be recognized for it. It is easy:
    • UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now initiative offers all conference participants the possibility to offset the unavoidable GHG emissions generated by their personal activities not related to COP 23, such as those related to their travel to and from Bonn and to their daily life, using CERs generated by the CDM (which fosters environmentally friendly projects in developing countries and contributes to the sustainable development of the project area).
    • Visit our platform to browse through the projects that sell their credits. You can filter them by region, country, co-benefits or price – for example. Your purchase will fund an array of projects ranging from wind power projects to efficient bus transit systems, or projects that replace harmful cook stoves with healthy, clean-burning ones. It will be up to you to choose what to invest in to compensate your emissions.
    • Emissions generated by air travel can be calculated using ICAO's official calculator. To calculate your personal life’s emissions, you can use the simple calculator available here.
  • Participants who compensate their emissions through the platform will receive a personalized certificate from the UN Climate Change Secretariat to attest to their climate action, as well as – at the time of registration – a Climate Neutral Now lanyard.
  • Participants who didn’t have the time before COP 23 are invited to visit the fancy Climate Neutral Now booth in the Bonn Zone, where its friendly staff will help with their climate footprint estimations, reduction options and climate compensation with UNFCCC certified emission reduction credits. It’s easy to make a difference for the future!
  • Those who wish to can communicate their Twitter handle to UNFCCC staff at the booth and have their picture taken for a thank you message on social media.
  • Participants are invited to pass by even if only for information or warm greetings.
  • Go Climate Neutral Now!

Dissemination of information
  • In line with the objectives of the paper-reduction initiative, participants are encouraged to rely on digital versions of official documents which can be downloaded from the UNFCCC website.
  • To further facilitate access, QR codes for selected official documents will be displayed on poster boards close to the Documentation Services Desk and elsewhere.
  • The Daily Programme for the conference will continue to be made available in electronic form only. A PDF version will be posted each morning on the corresponding website.
  • To reduce the amount of GHG emissions generated in connection with the conference, and with a view to further reducing paper usage and wastage at the conference, participants are asked to refrain from distributing any printed material, such as publications and information related to side events and exhibits, other meetings or future conferences. Please note that the secretariat strongly encourages the electronic dissemination of information.

  • Parties and observers can display visual electronic materials (videos, slideshows, images etc.) to promote their climate action on two screens at the Climate Change Resources Corner. Posters to promote official side events and exhibits may be displayed exclusively on the poster boards at the side events and exhibits area at the Bonn Zone.
  • The selection criteria of official side events and exhibits routinely include the commitment of side event organizers and exhibitors to disseminate all documentation in electronic form only. Side event organizers and exhibitors are requested to upload electronic files on the UNFCCC website, post QR codes on their exhibit booths and in side event rooms and promote their websites and mobile applications, if any. The secretariat will take note of the amount of printed materials disseminated at each side event and take this into consideration as a selection criterion for side event applications for future sessions.
  • Side event schedules will be announced through the UNFCCC website and the free UNFCCC mobile application “Negotiator”. Information on other events may also be posted on the UNFCCC website.
  • It is planned to broadcast all official side events live through Google Hangouts on Air and YouTube. Links to the recordings of the broadcasts will be made available on the UNFCCC website.
  • In this context, please note that daily updates on the negotiations, such as the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, ECO and Third World Network, will be disseminated in electronic form only. To facilitate access, as per past practice the secretariat will include web links to these updates in the Daily Programme. The publishing organizations may wish to display a copy with QR codes at their exhibit stands.
  • The Climate Change Studio provides an additional option for delegates to disseminate information, namely in the form of interviews that will be broadcast and archived on the UNFCCC website.
  • Poken is a user-friendly platform for collecting digital, i.e. paperless, information and networking. Participants can receive a personal Poken device at no charge at the Poken distribution counter located in the Bonn Zone, in the exhibition area (Area F). Once a user registers the device (sets up an account), s/he can easily collect (load onto the device) digital information at official exhibits, recent UNFCCC publications and the daily reports of observer organizations. Poken device registration also allows participants to exchange digital business cards by bringing their devices in contact. Collected information can be loaded onto personal computers. As participants have no use for the device after the conference, they are cordially requested to return the device at the Poken distribution counter on their last day of attendance and to thereby make the conference more sustainable.
EMAS certification

  • Following the successful certification of the sustainability management systems of COP 21 and COP 22 under the ISO 20121 standard for sustainability management systems, the environmental performance of COP 23 will be certified by an external environmental verifier under EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), an environmental management system of the European Union.
  • EMAS provides the overall framework for the sustainable organization of the sessions, covering aspects such as energy and resource efficiency, legal compliance and stakeholder engagement.

  • As EMAS covers the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems, the COP will also be certified under that standard.
  • To evaluate the environmental performance of the conference, key performance indicators such as energy, water, waste and GHG emissions will be measured and reported.
  • The publication of the COP 23 Environmental Declaration, including an evaluation of target achievement and detailed information on the carbon footprint of the conference, constitutes an integral part of EMAS certification.
  • Click here for a short video clip on the EMAS certification of COP 23 (please use Mozilla Firefox for viewing).
  • The one-pager and long version of the EMAS briefing for COP 23 service providers as well as the EMAS one-pager for UNFCCC staff are also available in the section with related information in the top right-hand corner.
  • In case of any questions please visit a UN Information Desk at either conference zone.
Energy management
  • As per past practice, the target average temperature for all indoor areas of the official venue will be 21 degrees Celsius. It should be noted that, due to the dimensions of the conference and the nature of the different buildings and structures, it may not be possible to avoid certain variations between different buildings/ rooms and in the course of any given day.

  • Participants are requested to turn off room lights and ventilation as well as ICT equipment when not in use, enabling energy-saving features.
  • An awareness-raising workshop for Bonn hotels to further improve their energy efficiency was held in September 2017 with support from the Energy Agency of North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by the option of targeted individual advice.
Food and drinking water
  • In determining the catering menus, every effort was made to strike a balance between aspects related to the environmental (e.g. the provision of “climate-friendly” food) and the economic dimension of sustainability (i.e. catering prices appropriate for all COP participants), while ensuring adequate availability and diversity of food.
  • Conscious of the obligation for organizational aspects of UN climate change conferences to support the objectives of the Convention, and to reduce the carbon footprint of the COP, it was decided to focus on food that has a low carbon footprint and is certified organic, as well as on fair trade (hot) drinks. Consequently, most food will be vegetarian (at least 60%) with optional addition of meat (100% organic certified) or fish/ seafood (100% certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or a similar label – and no red salmon). Overall, at least 50% of all food products will be from organic farming. In addition, at least 20% will come from regional production.
  • In this context, regional is defined as within 160 km of Bonn; for reference, at COP 21 the share of vegetarian food was approximately 30%, and at COP 15 the share of regional products was 40% and that of organic food and drinks 75%.