A milestone for advancing sustainable resource management worldwide has been reached with the endorsement of the United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS) by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). UNRMS is a set of principles and requirements that guide the planning, design, operation and closure of resource extraction and processing activities to balance economic development, environmental sustainability and social responsibility in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. The endorsement by ECOSOC opens the way for global application of UNRMS, recognizing its potential to help countries and companies manage natural resources sustainably.
Natural resources are essential for human well-being, economic development and the low-carbon transition. However, the world’s material footprint, currently at approximately 100 billion tonnes annually, is projected to double by 2060. Resource extraction contributes to about 50% of global carbon emissions and is responsible for significant biodiversity loss. Balancing resource use and conservation requires transformation and innovation at all societal levels.
UNRMS was developed by the UNECE’s Expert Group on Resource Management and builds on the existing United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC), offering a methodology to implement sustainable resource management.
“UNRMS is a crucial tool for the energy transition, as it provides a common language and framework for assessing and improving the sustainability performance of resource extraction and processing activities. Importantly, it also helps drive investments to these sectors, as it allows investors to focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects,” said Dario Liguti, UNECE Director of Sustainable Energy.
UNRMS is not only a technical system, incorporating best practices and lessons learned from various sectors and regions, but also a participatory process that involves all relevant stakeholders in finding solutions that balance trade-offs between different objectives, such as poverty alleviation and climate action. Using UNRMS, stakeholders can ensure that climate action and sustainable development go hand in hand rather than being seen as competing goals.
ECOSOC’s endorsement of UNRMS also demonstrates the commitment of the UN system to support countries and companies in achieving a paradigm shift towards a circular economy that respects planetary boundaries and human rights, in line with the UN SG’s strategy for extractive industries. UNECE, in cooperation with its stakeholders, will continue to provide technical support and guidance to apply the UNRMS principles and requirements in different contexts and sectors.