Sustainable Funding Mechanisms (2008-2015)

This activity aims to remove barriers to financial mechanisms so that the long term national and international needs of the UK can be met. To achieve this, it is necessary to understand both the UK's needs in environmental monitoring and how much is invested. 

Funding needs and mechanisms

As a result of discussion between the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and UKEOF, a group was set up to look at the issues surrounding the funding of long term observations. UKEOF provided evidence and analyses, utilising the UKEOF catalogue and its assessment tool, to support the initial group. A new GCSA chaired Observations Committee was established to take this work further.

Together with the Government Office for Science (GO Science), UKEOF provided evidence and secretariat support to this cross departmental Observations Committee. The aim of the Committee was to help ensure that the UK's crucial long term environmental observational information needs can be met for science, society and the economy.

Investments in environmental observations

To better understand the scale of investment made in environmental observations it is necessary to collate the costs that organisations attribute to these activities. However, costs can be determined in a number of ways and a standard methodology for submitting cost information was required, to help provide consistency between organisations.

UKEOF produced a set of guidelines for a common method of reporting investments associated with observation activities to encourage all organisations to report their investments in a comparable way.

Analysis of the information shows that the UK spends at least £300m per annum on environmental observations. The 2008/09 estimate was the first attempt to refine the estimated spend by the UK's major public funders of environmental observations.

Cost guidance guideline development

In 2008, Assimila Ltd was commissioned to develop guidelines to report the costs associated with environmental observations. Professor Bob Watson, Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor at the time, then wrote to the 18 organisations that carry out the majority of activities (publicly fund environmental observations) recorded in the UKEOF Catalogue, to ask them to submit investment data following a scaled down version of the Guidelines (November 2008).  The Investment Study letter explained the aims and requirements for gathering economic information. A second phase of data collection was undertaken in May 2009 with the same 18 organisations. This was according to revised (May 2009) instructions, and it is this information that was used to generate the 2008/09 table of estimated investments.