Video: Transforming Natural Resource Management for a Sustainable Planet

MacDonald, David (BP Exploration) | Hilton, Julian (Aleff Group) | Elliott, David (Retired) | Heiberg, Sigurd (PETRAD) | Tulsidas, Harikrishnan (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) | Griffiths, Charlotte (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)


The global acceptance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marked a new era in global development. Natural resources are essential for the attainment of most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Why, how, when and where they are discovered, produced, consumed, recovered and re-consumed will define more than any other actions whether we have succeeded and created value. In response, the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is transforming into a comprehensive and integrated system that can be used for managing these resources in concert to ensure balanced, responsible and resilient development.

UNFC applies to projects in energy, including oil and gas, renewable energy, nuclear fuel resources; minerals; geological storage; and anthropogenic resources. Groundwater will be the next focus. The UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification, including inter alia the SPE Oil and Gas Reserves Committee and Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards have aligned the Petroleum Resources Management System (PRMS), the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) family of codes for solid minerals and the Oil and Fuel Gas Reserves and Resources Classification of the Russian Federation. Alignment to other national systems such as the Chinese petroleum and mineral systems are under development. The Nordic countries (Finland, Norway and Sweden) have developed independent UNFC guidelines for mineral resources. The African Minerals Development Centre has decided to establish a continent-wide system for the management of Africa's oil, gas, mineral and renewable energy endowments, grounded in UNFC but tailored to meet local needs, priorities and circumstances. 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.

UNFC, in its transformation, has incorporated guidelines for social and environmental considerations. These guidelines provide the critical social and environmental basis for classification of resource projects in a manner that allows environmental, social and economic aspects to be in equilibrium. UNFC facilitates transformative resource management for sustainable development recognizing the SDGs as the very core of this development. UNFC is a tool for policymaking, government resource management, business process innovation and financial management and reporting.

Key stakeholders such as governments and companies can build a new narrative for the resource industry by using UNFC in day-to-day management functions. UNFC is a compass to use when navigating the complex landscape of natural endowments, social, economic and sustainability issues to find efficient and effective paths between often competing and sometimes mutually exclusive needs. This paper presents the recent expansion of the UNFC guidance to cover social and environmental impacts as well as the further transformation of the system that is underway to make it a valuable tool in resource management for governments and businesses.