18 May 2020

Is the MOD meeting its environmental sustainability objectives?

In the past we have written about how the MOD achieves sustainable procurement but is the organising achieving its targets?

The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has made progress in meeting its environmental sustainability objectives but has maintained that there remains room for improvement.

Learn more about the MOD’s sustainability journey below.


‘Environmental Sustainability Overview’

The NAO’s ‘Environmental Sustainability Overview’ examined the efforts that the Ministry of Defence has made to embed environmental sustainability in its estate management, procurement, governance and policy-making.

As the MOD spends almost £21 billion with industry every year, accounting for over 40% of all UK government procurement spend, it is vital that sustainability is taken into account in the organisation’s procurements.

The MOD is critical to the government’s sustainability goals due to its size, supply chain, and the amount of land it controls. It will play a fundamental role in meeting the Greening Government Commitments (GGCs) since it is responsible for 50% of government greenhouse gas emissions reported against this target.

The NAO findings have revealed that the MOD has reported a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2009-10, which means it has achieved its GGC target for reducing carbon emissions.

The MOD is on course to achieve other GGC targets for waste reduction and waste to landfill but is struggling to meet sustainability targets on waste recycling, the use of paper and reducing domestic flights.

Within the report, the NAO states that:

“The MOD’s energy mix has not changed significantly over the last 10 years, and the Department has made little progress in increasing the proportion of its energy drawn from renewable sources.”


Defence Infrastructure

The NAO report also looks at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO)’s performance against the GGCs, in particular greenhouse gas emissions, through its use of the built estate. The MOD controls approximately 1% of the UK’s land mass, and over a third of this area is designated as sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). The DIO manages this infrastructure on behalf of the MOD.

Each year DIO currently spends around £3 billion buying infrastructure services to enable the men and women of defence to live, work, train and deploy across the UK and overseas. This expenditure covers everything from airfields and firing ranges to office blocks. More than 40% of the Department’s estate is over half a century old but the NAO report states that:

“its ability to improve energy efficiency and wider sustainability through refurbishment is limited by financial constraints.”

Natural England has assessed 48% of the Department’s English sites as in ‘favourable’ condition, comparing well to the English average of 39%. However, more than half of these have not been assessed since at least 2011, raising concerns that this figure is no longer accurate.


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By working with the MOD, your organisation can help streamline effective procurement strategies and make environmentally conscious decisions.

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