Skip to main content

UNFC and Social and Environmental Management

Until recently, social and environmental factors have rarely been considered in the classification of natural resources. Their importance has grown considerably in the last few years. Many projects have been delayed or cancelled because they failed to meet social or environmental expectations, even though they met all other requirements.

The various factors involved in resource classification do not exist in isolation, and the distinction between them is rarely black and white. The related issues of ownership, contract terms, legal, regulatory issues, and in some cases, financial conditions may be affected by social and environmental issues. A delay due to the resolution of these as a result of socio-environmental issues can have a significant impact on the economics of projects, even making them no longer economically viable.

Socio-environmental issues, typically described as a requirement for “social licence” or “social licence to operate” (SLO), have attracted a significant amount of interest and attention in recent years. A project cannot proceed unless the important social and environmental contingencies are resolved, typically described as obtaining a “social licence to operate” (SLO).

UNFC is a tool for effective management of national resource endowments needed for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNFC applies to energy and mineral resources; injection projects for the geological storage of CO2; and the anthropogenic resources such as secondary resources recycled from residues and wastes. UNFC aims to provide necessary specifications and guidelines for optimizing the management and development of resources, with positive impacts on the society, environment, local economies and employment.

Draft Guidelines

Guidelines on socio-environmental considerations are under preparation.  The guidelines are of paramount importance in the delivery of relevant SDGs such as #7 on provisioning affordable and clean energy for all; #12 on responsible consumption and production; and #13 on climate action.

The draft guideline documents under development include:

  1. Guidance on accommodating social and environmental considerations  [English French Russian
  2. Clarification of terms related to socio-environmental factors. [English French Russian

Social and Environmental Working Group

Social and Environmental Working Group examines the social and environmental aspects of classification using UNFC.