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FAQs

UNFC - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC)?

UNFC provides a new model for sustainable energy and raw resource management required to build a future that leaves no one behind. Energy and raw materials are required for maintaining a minimum standard of living for the growing world population and are essential for food production, fighting poverty and keeping the environment healthy.

Why is UNFC necessary?

Rising population and increasing urbanization will have a massive global impact on the demand for energy and raw materials. Countries are increasingly looking into new ways to secure sustainable supplies of energy and minerals. UNFC provides a unique model for transparent and coherent estimation, classification, management, production and utilization of resources is critical for assurance of energy and raw material supplies required for sustainable development. 

How is UNFC different from other systems and standards?

UNFC provides a single framework to build global energy and mineral studies, analyze government policies, plan industrial processes and allocate capital efficiently. UNFC applies to minerals, petroleum, nuclear fuel resources, renewable energy resources, injection projects for geological storage of CO2, and anthropogenic resources. No other system is available today that has the breadth, depth and scope as UNFC. 

How does UNFC aid sustainable resource management?

UNFC helps in the efficient channelling of capital investments to regions where they are required while satisfying the social and environmental requirements. UNFC ensures that investments bring positive outcomes for society and not just profits for the companies.

How does UNFC address transformative changes in resource management?

The world is witnessing a new revolution driven by various trends and technologies, and the race is on for new transformative models in energy and material flows. These transformations are shaped by the Global Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate action. As new policies, approaches and business models emerge to reshape production, consumption, transportation and delivery systems, modernized and unified ways of managing the resulting energy, and raw material flows are needed. UNFC support improving productivity with “comprehensive recovery”, the discovery of “new economic resources” aiming for “zero waste” to drive net environmental and social benefits.

How does UNFC help countries and companies to respond to the challenges in market volatilities? 

The recent end of the “commodity supercycle” and market turmoil for energy and mineral resources has put greater pressure on countries and companies to perform better in managing their resources. UNFC helps countries and companies to respond with proactive policies and innovative business solutions that promote discarding “commodity” production, trading and utilization approach and embrace a new “energy and raw materials as a service approach”.  

How does UNFC help create a new narrative for the energy and raw material economy?

Energy and raw material production are widely associated with negative connotations such as “extractive”, “exploitive” and “drain” activities. UNFC helps the industry to redefine itself as a “generative” force that produces good social outcomes such as better quality of living, clean environment and capable people.

How does UNFC promote sustainable production and consumption patterns?

Sustainable growth and development require minimizing the natural resources and toxic materials used as well as limiting the waste and pollutants generated throughout the entire production and consumption process. Approximately a fifth of the raw materials produced worldwide end up as waste. UNFC helps in adopting innovative technologies for improving efficiencies in the production of energy resources and raw materials. Limiting waste generation through “comprehensive recovery” and “zero waste” options and recovering secondary resources from the residues is possible by application of UNFC.  

How does UNFC help energy and raw material industries to tackle its waste problem?

One of the significant challenges the world faces today, the global warming, is caused by the wastes from fossil energy utilization. Mining wastes are growing at an exponential rate as lower and lower grades of minerals are mined. The global phosphate fertilizer industry produces vast quantities of phosphogypsum, which is treated as waste in many countries. UNFC promotes increased efficiencies through “comprehensive recovery” and “zero waste” that by itself are waste limiting activities. UNFC can be used to transform all residues into resources through the anthropogenic resource specifications. Underground storage of CO2 is facilitated by UNFC’s injection project specifications. UNFC can help transform what is often perceived as a major liability into an asset on the balance sheets of companies. 

How can UNFC help waste-to-energy and raw material recovery from waste programmes? 

Experts around the world use UNFC to assess the potential for recovery of energy and materials from waste. UNFC provides a clear and consistent pathway for classification and management of resources for sustainable use. The UNFC anthropogenic resources guidelines can help waste-to-value projects in business process management and national policy development.  

Can UNFC be tailored for national and regional resource management requirements?

A key benefit of UNFC is its flexibility and ability to be adapted for diverse national and regional requirements. 

Who uses UNFC?

More than 30 countries in UNECE region and globally use UNFC. 

Recently, the State Commission on Mineral Resources of the Russian Federation (GKZ) has bridged its oil and gas classification system to UNFC. GKZ has announced it will bridge its new national solid minerals classification to UNFC. The Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland) have developed sub-regional guidelines for applying UNFC to the minerals sector.  

The Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China has developed draft bridging documents to align its national mineral and petroleum systems to UNFC.  

The African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) of the African Union and hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has decided to adopt UNFC as the sustainable management tool for the whole of Africa as part of the realization of the Africa Mining Vision. 

The Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia (CCOP) has decided to develop guidelines for adoption of UNFC as the unifying framework in 14 member countries. 

Is UNFC a mandatory UN standard?

UNFC is a voluntary system used by countries, companies or individuals from sustainable management of energy and mineral resources.  The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), on 16 July 2004, “decided to invite the Member States of the United Nations, international organizations and the regional commissions to consider taking appropriate measures for ensuring worldwide application of the Framework Classification.” (ECOSOC Decision 2004/233).  

Who develops the UNFC?

The Expert Group on Resource Classification is responsible for the development of UNFC. The Expert Group is an advisory body that reports to the Inter-Governmental body, the Committee on Sustainable Energy. The Expert Group has a Bureau and Technical Advisory Group and conducts its activities through a number of sectoral Working Groups and Task Forces. The Expert Group is an open platform, which has the participation of over 300 individuals on their own or representing international organizations, professional associations, governments, civil society organizations, academic institutions and companies. 

How does the Expert Group on Resource Classification conduct its activities?

The Expert Group organizes annual meetings in Geneva, usually during the end of April. The Bureau of the Expert Group conducts its business in between the annual sessions electronically and through teleconferences. The Expert Group organizes several other workshops and conferences in different countries every year. 

How can I join the Expert Group on Resource Classification?

Membership to the Expert Group is open to anyone interested in the sustainable management of resources. Please sent an email to reserves.energy[AT]unece.org to join the Expert Group.

Where can I get more information about UNFC and the work of the Expert Group on Resource Classification?

Please visit the webpage (http://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html) or join the UNFC mailing list by sending a request to reserves.energy[AT]unece.org .