A UN Framework to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of energy resource management is sparking significant interest from geothermal experts, signaling strong potential to unlock its contribution to climate action and sustainable development.
The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is a globally applicable standard for classifying resources. It provides a common language for describing resources, facilitating their efficient and effective management. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations has unanimously endorsed the Framework.
UNFC is being increasingly used to classify geothermal resources. In particular, UNFC has been used to develop geothermal resource classifications and pilot projects for a number of countries, including Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mexico and St Lucia. Recently, Queensland, Australia, became the first jurisdiction to legislate the application of UNFC to Geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy can play a significant role in meeting the world’s future energy needs. It is a renewable source that provides clean energy for a unique combination of purposes: power, heating and cooling, as well as direct uses. Geothermal energy is a gamechanger for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, providing affordable, clean, baseload energy for all.
To facilitate uptake of UNFC to geothermal energy, UNECE and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) have cooperated since 2014 to apply UNFC to geothermal resources. The most recent result of this cooperation is the development of Updated Specifications for Application of UNFC to Geothermal Energy Resources by the UNFC Ad Hoc Committee of IGA. This Committee is Chaired by Professor Gioia Falcone who is also the Chair of the Geothermal Sub-group of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management and serves on the Board of Directors of IGA. These specifications are intended for a broad audience, including (i) policymakers and those responsible for government and regulatory resource management, (ii) companies’ internal resource management, and (iii) financial reporting, especially for users that wish to facilitate the realization of the SDGs. It is hoped that nations embrace the framework to build a comprehensive mapping of sustainable energy resources, including geothermal energy. Professor Falcone noted “Geothermal energy is an underutilized and underdeveloped sustainable energy resource. Countries need support to expand knowledge, technology transfer, and harmonized data to access financing. I call on countries such as the United Kingdom to lead the way in assessing all their geothermal resources based on UNFC”.
In October, delegations from Central American countries, all members of the Central American Integration System (SICA), engaged with experts from UNECE and its Expert Group on Resource Management to share expertise in sustainable geothermal practices. Discussions included detailed and structured analysis of progress and technical support to scale-up geothermal energy deployment and support sustainable development. GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) of Germany is also working with SICA country experts to develop a digital tool to facilitate application of UNFC to geothermal energy, stemming from the decision trees embedded in the Updated Specifications for Application of UNFC to Geothermal Energy Resources.
UNFC is an international scheme applicable to mineral, petroleum, nuclear fuel, renewable energy and anthropogenic resources, as well as water and injection projects for geological storage. The United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS) is a global standard for the integrated and sustainable management of natural resources. UNFC and UNRMS can support the scaling-up of efficient and effective geothermal resource management needed to achieve carbon neutrality.
“UNECE offers a platform for inclusive and transparent dialogue, exchanges of best practices and lessons learned to support the sustainability of all natural resources, including geothermal energy. In cooperation with our sister UN Regional Commissions, support is available to empower nations to deliver the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement,” said Dario Liguti, Director of the Sustainable Energy Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Thanks to funding from the European Union, a project is currently being implemented to support UNECE member States to develop and implement UNFC and UNRMS.
For further information on UNECE’s work on sustainable resource management visit: https://unece.org/sustainable-energy/sustainable-resource-management