Chapter 7

Building a Sustainable Future


A gateway to UN Geneva, the Portail des Nations project will welcome as many as 300,000 visitors a year in an interactive visitor centre, with the aim of better sharing the work of the United Nations with the public.

Aptly located at the Place des Nations, and planned to be completed in 2023, the 3,000 m2 pavilion will be dedicated to educating visitors through multiple interactive exhibitions that focus on important world issues and the role of the United Nations plays in solving them.

“This project represents an extraordinary opportunity to forge closer ties to the greater public,” said UN Geneva Director-General Tatiana Valovaya, “giving them a new perspective on how we are working now and into the future, to address the issues that are already changing the world.”

Launched in 2019, the project, estimated to cost CHF 27.5 million, will be funded by generous donations from the Fondation Pictet pour le développement, the Loterie romande and a private foundation from Geneva.

Learn more about the Portail des Nations project.



Incorporating ideas and methods for sustainability to reduce the impact on the environment, the newly constructed H Building at UN Geneva was designed to attain a highly rated energy efficiency standard. The building has been constructed to meet a performance level equivalent to the internationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard, the most widely used “green” building rating system.



© UN Photo - Adam Kane

People everywhere are trying to reduce their impact on the world around them by reusing materials and buying fewer new things. As a grass-roots project to support Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible production and consumption, the EcoCorner, a staff-led initiative, was set up in February.

At zero cost and with zero waste, a small utility room on the 4th floor of the E Building at the Palais des Nations was converted into a multipurpose space. A variety of new and second-hand office supplies can be exchanged at the EcoCorner for reuse, and ideas for greener practices are shared.

Efforts for responsible consumption do not stop with office supplies. Old eyeglasses will be given a new life in developing countries, plastic bottle caps have been collected and donated to a charity supporting persons with disabilities, and used mascara wands are collected for an organization that cares for animals.

The project has been successful in its first year, inspiring more people to support the initiative and share other creative ideas for reducing waste. It has also drawn the attention of other colleagues at UN Geneva, sparking similar initiatives to recycle and reutilize materials.


© UN Photo - Adam Kane

Since its construction 46 years ago, Room 19 at the Palais des Nations has been a centre of activity where delegates and leaders from around the globe have come together to discuss issues and find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. Playing its role in the evolution of multilateral processes, the room has served as host to thousands of meetings and conferences for bodies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Economic Commission for Europe and the Human Rights Council.

Renovated over the course of
13 months and inaugurated in November 2019, Room 19 has been completely transformed into an energy-efficient, modern space inspired by nature and outfitted with the latest conferencing equipment. Delegates and representatives from the international community will benefit by being able to work in a more efficient conference environment. Made possible through a generous donation by Qatar, the project was led by renowned Italian architect Giampiero Peia. The large open conference space incorporates numerous accessibility features, including the first sign language interpretation booth at UN Geneva.

Delegates’ consoles

Conference room desks are fitted with consoles featuring video screens, Braille markings, digital nameplates, microphones, voting buttons, USB chargers and international electric outlets.

Interpretation booths 

Simultaneous interpretation booths are available for the six official UN languages and three additional languages. The space also includes the first sign language interpretation booth at UN Geneva.


The room has a seating capacity of 737. Half of the seating is always wheelchair-accessible, and all of it can be made wheelchair-accessible with slight adjustments.


The uniquely decorated ceiling is inspired by muqarnas, an archetypal form of Arabian architecture. The wavy structures and geometric patterns with integrated lighting help to create a mosaic which encompasses the entire room.


Four large windows open towards beautiful views of Lake Geneva and the mountains beyond, letting in natural light and connecting meeting participants with the landscape outside.

Logo projector 

An innovative logo projector makes unique branding for any conference or organization possible.

Large display screen 

Room 19 has the biggest display screen at UN Geneva. The screen provides visual support to conferences by way of presentations, photographs and videos.


© UN Photo - Adam Kane

World-renowned as a pillar of research, knowledge and culture, the UN Library Geneva continues to be an essential resource for the international community. The Library was founded at Palais Wilson in 1919 and transferred to the Palais des Nations in 1936, and most of its physical spaces have remained largely unchanged for over 83 years.

In 2019, the newly renovated Library Events Room was inaugurated. It is designed to better host a wide variety of discussions and events on issues of global importance. It incorporates more modern audiovisual equipment as well as a big, bright open space. The renovation project, led by architect Federica Perrini, ensured that the heritage of the building and the legacy of the Organization would be respected and preserved.

The Dream of Peace, a wall-sized painting from 1939 by Henrik Sørensen, remains a brilliantly coloured focal point in contrast to the clean white walls and renovated ceiling around it.

At the opposite end of the room, with horizontal lines of longitude and vertical lines of latitude, is a wall-sized representation of a world map, consisting of a large bookshelf holding seven boxes. Each box is made from wood found on one of the seven continents. This symbolic map demonstrates how the Library contains and shares content from around the world.

Surrounding the room, in 1,700 little wooden drawers, visitors can find the Library’s card catalogue, which once held the details of all the books and journals found in the reading rooms and stacks – until the catalogue went digital in 2003.

See a 360-degree view of the room.


© UN Photo - Josie Bauman

The Dragons’ Den Challenge was launched in 2019 as a new forum for pitching ideas that could improve work and services offered by UN Geneva. Staff were given the opportunity to present their innovative ideas to a panel of senior management, experts and colleagues. Modelled on a popular British television programme of the same name, the format of the event was lively, entertaining, and encouraged collaboration and sharing of information.

Sixteen diverse projects were submitted for the competition, with ideas ranging from gardening to cryptocurrencies. Five of the projects were shortlisted. At the event, the teams pitched their ideas in front of colleagues, senior management, and the judges or “Dragons”. The judges and the audience then challenged the contestants, asking questions about how they would actualize their idea if their project was chosen.

Though the decision was difficult, the Dragons ultimately selected a project that could develop skills-sharing and collaboration across divisions and services at UN Geneva, through an app. The audience came out supporting a project aimed at strengthening collaboration and skills development, specifically in the translation process.

Each of the winning teams chose a mentor from senior management to help guide their pilot project. Both teams will be given the opportunity to work on developing their idea for half a day each week for a period of three months.   

Watch highlights from the Dragons’ Den Challenge at UN Geneva.


© UN Photo - Adam Kane

Every year, the UN Geneva print shop produces a wealth of documents and publications, including reports for consideration at multilateral meetings and resolutions from those meetings. In-depth technical information and flagship reports from UN specialized agencies, annual reports on the achievements of UN Geneva, and innovatively designed products for Geneva-based organizations of the UN system highlight accomplishments, activities and events. Many of these products are essential for the effective and efficient running of the multilateral meetings that take place at the Palais des Nations and throughout Geneva.

To ensure UN Geneva’s continued ability to meet the expanded publishing demands of its growing client base, the print shop installed a new Heidelberg Speedmaster offset printing machine in 2019. This high-speed, energy-efficient four-colour machine includes integrated drying, varnishing, and automated digital colour balancing. The results are reduced turnaround times and increased productivity, with outstanding quality.

As the primary solution for long-print run publications, it strengthens the print shop’s capacity, and it complements the digital printers for short-run and print-on-demand jobs, and the large-format printers for banners and other outreach materials. This investment keeps UN Geneva at the cutting edge of publishing and printing, serving the UN and specialized agencies in Geneva and across the globe.

Publications distributed worldwide to:

government representatives, conference delegates, academia, researchers, technical experts, media outlets

Materials used at:

meetings, conferences, seminars, research institutions, workshops, training sessions, technical cooperation programmes


UN Geneva’s most valuable asset is its people. The Client Support Centre was created to meet the needs of UN Geneva staff more efficiently. It is a place where staff can access all the most frequently used administrative services and find quick solutions to various issues, giving them more time to focus
on their work.

The 95% satisfaction rate given by the 600 to 800 visitors that the centre receives each week demonstrates its success. One of the reasons for these positive results is the balance that has been achieved between the digitization of services through a web portal and the crucial human contact factor in an accessible space.

Establishing the multiservice location has improved communication between administrative services and clients. For the future, more services are planned to be incorporated into the space, to continue driving efficiency, innovation and quality in meeting client demand.

Services available at the Client Support Centre