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Phil Evans becomes Director General of EUMETSAT

(5 January 2021 - Eumetsat) 2020 might remain in history as a pivotal year in many meteorological respects: beyond the fact that it ends the warmest decade in the history of temperature recordings, it has also seen some of the most intense and longer-lasting wildfires in several countries, and unusually frequent oceanic heatwaves.

On a more hopeful note, 2020 was also the year of the launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, the first of a new generation of ocean monitoring satellites to be launched into space in the coming decade, to monitor the Earth and the climate with unprecedented accuracy.

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Phil Evans, Director General of EUMETSAT (courtesy: EUMETSAT)

“Extreme weather events will have an increasingly heavy social and economical impact on human societies: monitoring them, in order to mitigate their effect and measure the effects of climate regulations, will be absolutely crucial in the coming 50 to 100 years,” explains Phil Evans, Director General of EUMETSAT since 1 January 2021.

“Being appointed by EUMETSAT is both an immense honour and a huge responsibility because I could not think of a more socially relevant institution to work for at the moment.”

Before starting at EUMETSAT, Phil Evans was the Director of Physics Programmes for the Institute of Physics, where he was responsible for education, and science and innovation programmes, a role that aligns with his sensitivity for the social impact of science. In addition, before that experience, he spent more than three decades in several senior positions at the UK Met Office, where he honed his technical skills in remote sensing and weather and climate simulations, and acquired experience in managing international collaborations.

He is bringing this very special combination of skills to EUMETSAT to lead on the development of the organisation, on the many satellite launches planned until 2033, and on the expansion of the services provided daily to users in many countries.

“EUMETSAT is an extremely high-technology and efficient organisation, that manages very complex satellites in space, and delivers, every day, 24/7, accurate and pertinent data to its users worldwide,” describes Phil Evans. “This is our expertise and we need to keep it going.”

He already feels a keen sense of ownership for this mission that he knew a long time before joining. In his role at the Met Office he was also leading the UK delegation to EUMETSAT, and was, thus, already in close contact with the institution and its values and people.

The international scope and the many multinational collaborations that form the backbone of many programmes at EUMETSAT are core to the success of the organisation, according to him: tackling planet-wide climatic issues can only be done at a planet-wide level, whether it is about developing innovative satellite programmes, sharing data to simulate complex phenomenon, or generally bringing knowledge forward.

Bringing everybody on board, both within and outside the organisation, to tackle global issues is the key to success. Phil Evan’s mandate at EUMETSAT starts in turbulent times, both for the climate, human societies, and EUMETSAT. May technology, data, and his collaborative management empower us to tackle those complex issues.