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UNFC critical to ensure sustainable raw material management in support of the European Green Deal

The European Green Deal is a new growth strategy aiming to transform the European Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The European Green Deal has a number of overarching objectives, including for the European Union to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050; promotion of a circular economy; and enhancing social responsiveness.

The United Nations Framework Classification of Resources (UNFC), a global standard that supports sustainable and integrated management of energy and raw materials, could support attainment of the objectives of the Deal. This will be at the centre of discussions at a virtual workshop organized by   UNECE, the European Commission and EuroGeoSurveys , within the framework of the EU Raw Materials Week 2020.

The workshop on "UNFC Europe: Ensuring sustainable raw material management to support the European Green Deal," 19 November 2020 will feature perspectives and experiences in the application of UNFC for raw material management in Europe.  The European Green Deal looks to channel massive investments in green technologies, drive industry innovation, and promote decarbonization and global partnerships for improved standards. In the EU, at least 30 million jobs depend on the availability of raw materials. Sustainable production and use of raw materials, primary and secondary, underpin the successful realization of the objectives of the new Green Deal. Quality data and information on the social-environmental-economic viability, technological feasibility and risks are essential in achieving these objectives.

Structured and harmonized information on raw materials is required for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is a key focus of UNFC.  The current work to expand UNFC into a United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS) will result in a tool-kit for the holistic management of natural resource endowments.  Both UNFC and UNRMS will provide the essential framework to assure uninterrupted supply of raw materials and ensure the social, environmental and economic viability of production.

Mining and processing of raw materials involve activities from exploration to final site remediation, such that could span several decades, or even a century or more in some cases. Several players such as national geological surveys, mining and processing companies, environmental management companies, investors and trading companies should work together to achieve sustainable production. The aspirations of the European Green Deal call for minimal impact on the environmental, net-zero carbon emissions and zero wastes. The need to move to a circular economy is vital to achieving these objectives. Such a vision only be realized with a long-term, integrated view of the mining lifecycle, which is provided by UNFC and UNRMS.

The European vision for raw materials involves primary production, use of secondary raw materials through recycling and reuse and global sourcing. Europe, apart from being a major consumer of raw materials, is also a significant mining and processing technology provider and a centre for innovation. UNFC and UNRMS help in focusing on the long-term requirements of sustainable mining and processing, which then becomes the focus of innovative technology development. Energy and resource-efficient raw material production technologies are essential to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and SDGs. Recently, the European Commission used UNFC to compare and consolidate information in a European battery raw materials inventory. Many of the raw materials needed for electric vehicle batteries and other green applications are present in polymetallic deposits identified across  Europe

The workshop will include a high-level policy panel that will focus on the vision and strategy for sustainable raw material management.  A second session will feature expert insights and case studies on the application of UNFC for raw material resource assessment and management.

Note to editors

About UNFC

UNFC and UNRMS, flagship projects of UNECE, together offer a global tool for understanding and managing the resource base of energy and raw materials. UNFC and UNRMS apply to primary raw material and energy sources such as minerals, petroleum, coal, as well as renewable energies such as bioenergy, geothermal, solar, wind and hydropower. UNFC offers a common framework that allows countries and companies to manage how the required energy and raw materials could be assured sustainably. For further information on UNFC, UNRMS and the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management that oversees development and implementation of UNFC visit: https://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html

About DG GROW

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) is responsible for EU policy on the single market, industry, entrepreneurship and small businesses. DG GROW coordinates the EU raw materials policy. The European Commission's actions to ensure a sustainable supply of these materials include the raw materials initiative, the European innovation partnership on raw materials and the EU action plan on critical raw materials. For more information on the EU policy and strategy for raw materials visit: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/policy-strategy_en

About EuroGeoSurveys

The Geological Surveys of Europe or EuroGeoSurveys (EGS) is a not-for-profit organization representing 38 National Geological Surveys and some regional surveys in Europe. Its members are public sector institutions carrying out operations and research in the field of geosciences. These organizations have a long tradition, in many cases, more than 100 years, in collecting data, preparing information and conducting research focused on their national subsurface. For more information on EGS visit: https://www.eurogeosurveys.org/