Co-creation of an Adaptation Capability-Maturity Framework for Public Sector Organisations

16:15 Wednesday 29 May

SS035 • OC205

Room S16


Eleanor Murtagh (United Kingdom) 1; Joseph Hagg (United Kingdom) 2; Anna Beswick (United Kingdom) 3

1 - University of Strathclyde; 2 - University of Edinburgh; 3 - Sniffer

It is now 10 years since the ground-breaking Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 made adaptation a statutory requirement for all Scottish public bodies, with mandatory reporting of progress. Over this time, Adaptation Scotland’s team has been tasked with supporting organisations to adapt – and we have co-produced with practitioners a range of widely used tools and resources.

We have now re-imagined our Public Sector Guidance as an innovative Adaptation Capability-Maturity Framework – created from the outset with practitioners from eleven public sector organisations including local authorities, health service, transport and water infrastructure providers, heritage, and university estates. It draws upon our shared decade of experience finding ways to deliver adaptation, overcoming barriers and pitfalls along the way.

The framework and supporting guidance has been developed on the principle that successful adaptation is not simply a case of better understanding and analysing climate data and risk models. Effective leadership, governance arrangements, inclusive planning approaches and working beyond organisation and sectoral silos are of equal importance for successful adaptation.

The framework identifies four adaptation ‘capabilities’:

  1. Organisational Culture and Assets focuses on understanding organisational priorities, governance structures and resource availability to plan and implement adaptation work more effectively;
  2. Understanding the Challenge develops the robust evidence base on risk and vulnerability to inform decision-making;
  3. Planning & Implementation aligns adaptation with objectives, options appraisal, adaptation strategy development and delivery; and
  4. Working Together fosters networking and collaboration for joint adaptation action.

A number of tasks are detailed for each capability and develop over four maturity stages: Starting, Intermediate, Advanced, and Mature. The guidance encourages a flexible approach, with every organisation likely to pursue a unique adaptation journey. However, neglecting a capability can hinder adaptation progress (e.g. undertaking detailed risk assessment without developing organisational capacity rarely leads to progress).

The new framework is a significant step on from our previous (widely used) ‘5-Steps’ guidance (2013), a Scottish context specific version of a risk-based adaptation cycle used widely around the world (e.g. UKCIP Adaptation Wizard, EU Adaptation Support Tool). Although a risk-based approach was easily understood as a sequence of activities, in practice it was difficult to apply for many organisations. Key issues were with perceived rigidity of a sequential approach, completing a suitable risk assessment, and that potential solutions were too risk-centric, when a more holistic approach was more likely to be implemented.

We will present case studies of organisations using the new framework.