At the very core of our mission
For many organisations, 'sustainability' means being a responsible employer and a good neighbour; minimising environmental impact, promoting employee wellbeing and supporting projects in the local community. These things are important for the Met Office too, as well as being at the very core of our purpose to enable protection, prosperity and well-being, says Chief Executive, Rob Varley.
Working at the forefront of weather and climate, our work promotes sustainability in everything we do. Our work with the environment, customers and suppliers, people, and community was acknowledged in 2014 when we won the Platinum Award in the UK Public Sector Sustainability Awards. We recognise that sustainability goes beyond simply how our business operates; it is integral to our work around the globe, helping people make sustainable decisions.
With each year, the work of the Met Office seems to gather significance and urgency. 2015 ended with an historic agreement at the UN Climate Conference, COP21 in Paris, limiting warming to below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial times, or 1.5 °C if possible, to avoid widespread and dangerous impacts of climate change.
This agreement was reached in the context of the warmest year on record globally, the peak of one of the strongest El Niños ever recorded, and record-breaking rainfall leading to devastating floods across North Wales, Northern England and Scotland. Throughout, we were actively involved, deploying our world-class science, technology and operations, helping decision makers when and where it mattered most. From warnings of floods, to helping communities plan for and reduce the impacts of climate change, our work is helping shape a more sustainable world.
Looking further afield, our work is supporting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. For example, on my recent trip to South Africa, I discovered first-hand how our partnership with the South African Weather Service is helping to protect life and property, and boost economic development. Clearly, sustainability is not just about being a good citizen. Although it generates an enormous amount of goodwill, it also makes sound business sense. Working with Business in the Community over recent years, I have seen many successful companies embracing sustainability to benefit the bottom line.
It makes good sense for us too. In working for a more sustainable world, the Met Office delivers tangible financial benefits to the UK. A recent review, by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Met Office, concluded that we will deliver £30 billion of value to the UK over the next ten years - a benefit-cost ratio of around 14:1.
Yet the benefits of sustainability cannot be measured in money alone. It's also a great staff motivator, helping build loyalty and engagement. Our people are essential to our life saving work and it matters a great deal to them that we're passionate about such things as recycling and biodiversity. Many of our staff are actively involved in community engagement through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) outreach. Our STEM Ambassadors work with schools to promote STEM subjects and careers and the Met Office as a future employer.
Sustainability is at the very core of our mission, both in how we work and in the services we provide - working in the UK to keep people safe through the extremes of the British weather, and around the world with partners such as the Department for International Development, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Bank. And, as environmental risks continue to increase, our work becomes ever more vital - ultimately helping to support a more sustainable global future.