Tom Bide – How tools developed by the UNECE can help with the sustainable supply of raw materials


The rapid increase in demand for raw minerals for decarbonisation and new technologies has highlighted the vulnerability of supply chains and resulted in ever increasing demands, from both national governments and consumers, for better transparency for raw material sourcing that meet sustainability objectives. To ensure sufficient supply from sustainable sources is maintained better data and understanding is needed as to where and how minerals are produced, used and disposed of.

Two tools that could aid in this process are the United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC)1 and United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS)2, both developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The UNFC is a classification framework, which aims to classify a wide range of resources (including energy) in a consistent way, whereas, the UNRMS is a framework to act as a holistic management tool for raw materials across the entire supply chain (figure 1). Both of these incorporate environmental and social aspects at their core which can help in both ensuring future sustainability objectives are met and that accesses to consistent and accurate data is possible in the future to enable better understanding of traceability and how raw materials flow through society.

Fig 1. Schematic representation of the UNRMS, showing the value chain and associated data requirements and the linkage to the UNFC[AG1] .


[1] UNECE. United nations framework classification for resources update 2019 28 (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Geneva, 2019).

[2] UNECE. United Nations Resource Management System – An overview of concepts, objectives and requirements. 67 (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, 2021).

[AG1]While I can see the linkage to the UNFC, I can’t see the link to the UNRMS?? I think the caption needs to be changed. I have made a stab at it


British Geological Survey, Nottingham, UK, NG125GG

I am a senior scientist at The British Geological Survey, where I have worked within the minerals team since 2006. I specialise in construction and industrial minerals and how to reduce the impact of extraction and consumption. My research interests include providing high-quality information and advice on economic minerals, in the UK and internationally. I have recently led BGS contribution to the European ORAMA project, producing recommendations and a roadmap on improving and standardising raw materials information across Europe as well as work for the UK government regarding sustainably supply of critical raw materials. I also lead delivery of statistical data for raw materials through the UK minerals yearbook.