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The MFA Sustainability Initiative – we want to “walk the talk”

We promote the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals at international roundtables, in our bilateral collaborations and through our development aid.

We want to walk the talk in our day-to-day operations. We therefore launched a Sustainability Initiative in November 2019 – to create a more climate friendly and inclusive workplace. Our overall vision is to become one of the world’s five most sustainable foreign services before 2025. An ambitious target that supports our objective of remaining a credible “green” partner in the eyes of our staff and in external relations.

The Initiative has three core ambitions:

  • To significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the Danish Foreign Service
  • Have sustainability guide all of our everyday choices
  • Make the Danish Foreign Service the best public workplace in Denmark

Each year, we take concrete actions to meet the ambitions. Some actions concern the entire Foreign Service. Other measures focus on either the Service at Home or Abroad.

Progress made on the Sustainability Initiative

We still have a long way to go and new bridges to cross. However, we have built a solid foundation of knowledge on our current state of affairs. It allows us to focus actions on areas where the potentials for reducing emissions and improving well-being are high.

Actions taken include:

  • A nearly 50% reduction in the energy consumption from Ministry buildings in Copenhagen by 2020 compared to 2006, by switching to low-energy consuming LED light bulbs, new pumps and adjustments to our ventilation system.
  • A pledge, to enhance energy efficiency in the coming years and to install solar power panels to cover around 10% of our energy consumption at home.
  • A push for clean energy transition at our Missions – especially in countries where access to renewables is limited. We have installed solar panels at several embassies, including Pretoria, Ouagadougou, Brasilia, Washington and Accra. In Accra, it reduced energy consumption by 46% within a year and in Washington, the panels – in the course of one month – reduced carbon emissions by 3 tonnes.
  • Many Missions has put up charging stations for electric vehicles and opted for hybrid or electric vehicles when time comes to replace their old cars. Our Embassy in Nairobi, for example, was the first diplomatic mission with an EV in Kenya.
  • Reduction of emissions from meat consumption in our canteen in the Home Service, by opting for climate friendly solutions and introducing a vegetarian day and installment of waste separation solutions and a full stop on single-use plastics.
  • Implementation of a new Gender Equality Action Plan for the entire Foreign Service to support social well-being and support a more inclusive work place.

Green Frontline Missions spearhead the transitions

We have designated 20 Missions around the world as Green Frontline Missions. They advance the green agenda bilaterally and multilaterally. They also advance sustainability locally by drafting and implementing annual Sustainability Action Plans to build climate friendly and more inclusive workplaces and contribute positively to local environments. Examples are numerous, but to mention three concrete initiatives:

  • Abu Dhabi has introduced waste separation and recycling in collaboration with likeminded EU countries – to push for change in a country where waste separation is not a common practice
  • New Delhi now harvests and reuses rainwater

New York Consulate General has installed beehives at the rooftop of the Denmark House in order to enhance local floral and plant diversity in the city.

 

Pillars

  • Significantly reduce the MFA carbon footprint
  • Sustainability guides all of our everyday choices
  • The Foreign Service is the best public workplace in Denmark

These pillars are linked to three overall ambitions and underlying global goals: