Connecting the Dots: Challenges and Opportunities of Place-based Adaptation from a Regional Perspective in the UK and Ireland

09:00 Thursday 30 May


Room S9


Stephen Jones (United Kingdom) 1; Barry O’Dwyer (Ireland) 2; Anna Beswick (United Kingdom) 3; Eve Leegwater (United Kingdom) 4; Stephen Flood (Ireland) 2; Shona Paterson (Ireland) 2; Cassandra Moll (United Kingdom) 1; Joseph Hagg (United Kingdom) 3; Ellie Murtagh (United Kingdom) 3; Jane Mccullough (United Kingdom) 1; Sylvie Allan (United Kingdom) 4; Jim Poole (United Kingdom) 5

1 - Climate Northern Ireland; 2 - Climate Ireland; 3 - Adaptation Scotland; 4 - Environment Agency; 5 - Natural Resources Wales

Aim: To critique approaches to place based adaptation work from a regional perspective

Effective adaptation to climate requires the vertical and horizontal integration of adaptation across all levels of governance/scales (National, sectoral and local). Place-based approaches to adaptation provide opportunities for progress by addressing cross-sectoral and multi-level governance concerns. This process involves assessing the impacts and trade-offs of climate change and adaptation at the local scale, and building adaptive capacity in vulnerable communities at risk from climate impacts. However, place-based adaptation faces a number of challenges in coordinating a diverse range of stakeholders across a range of sectors and levels of governance, attempting to integrate national requirements of adaptation planning in the context of local policy.

The session provides a forum for sharing experiences of place-based adaptation and identifying opportunities and challenges. The session will begin with a brief session overview, characterizing approaches to place-based adaptation. It will then proceed through the four regions one at a time, with each giving a 10 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of group discussions on the challenges and opportunities outlined.

Each of these four small 20 minute sessions will focus on ongoing place-based adaptation initiatives in the region, identify opportunities and challenges for place-based adaptation and allow for contribution from practitioner experience of adaptation planning from across Europe.

A final plenary session will clarify key lessons for place-based adaptation from a regional perspective, with learning outcomes for participants including the following:

  • Explore a variety of partnerships and methods in place to support place-based adaptation;
  • Illustrate challenges and opportunities with regional case studies;
  • Discuss and critique challenges, opportunities and methods within each country/region and also within different sectors;
  • Define the key recurring themes throughout place-based adaptation work based on practical examples of how they could be addressed.

Target audience

Adaptation Practitioners and those involved in planning for climate change with a place-based approach at any level. This session will enable attendees to hear practical examples of place-based adaptation from the UK and Ireland. Attendees will benefit through discussion of how place-based adaptation is taking place at, and between national, local and sectoral levels in each region, examining the challenges of each approach and how the levels interact. Attendees can add their own experience to the interactive session, which will provide best practice learning on an international scale.

Proposed format for the session

Section 1: Introduction [5 mins] Session overview

Section 2: [1hr 20 mins]

  1. Stephen Jones, Climate Northern Ireland: 10min presentation, followed by 10 minute group discussion
  2. Barry O’Dwyer, Climate Ireland: 10min presentation, followed by 10 minute group discussion
  3. Anna Beswick, Adaptation Scotland: 10min presentation, followed by 10 minute group discussion
  4. Eve Leegwater, Environment Agency (England): 10min presentation, followed by 10 minute group discussion

Section 3: [20 mins] Plenary session to formulate learning based on group feedback to four regions

Contributing Authors abstracts

1. Stephen Jones, Jane McCullough, Cassandra Moll – Climate Northern Ireland – A regional approach to adaptation – Combining cross-sector partnerships with local and strategic governance

Northern Ireland is a small country which (due to political devolution in the UK) functions in ways similar to regional governments across other European Nations. This makes it a useful case study to examine how multiple levels of governance and sectors interact on adaptation planning.

Climate Northern Ireland (CNI) is funded by central government, with a mission to promote climate action and collaboration amongst academia, NGOs, local government and the private sector. We will examine the ‘cross-sectoral partnership approach’ used by the CNI steering group, in order to assess how methods used in Northern Ireland to co-ordinate actors across multiple sectors and levels of governance can apply in other regions.

Through this cross-sectoral partnership approach, place-based adaptation is undertaken at both a regional and local level in Northern Ireland. At a regional level: to bring non-government stakeholders into the Northern Ireland Adaptation policy process. At a local level: to support the ‘CLIMATE’ project where, funded by INTERREG, CNI is supporting lead partner Derry City and Strabane District Council to develop the first local authority adaptation plan in Northern Ireland. We will discuss the resources and approaches used to overcome challenges such as senior staff buy-in and awareness.

2. Barry O’Dwyer(1),* Shona Paterson(1) and Stephen Flood(1,2) – Climate Ireland – Harnessing the power of co-creation and social learning to adapt to climate change at the local level

1 MaREI, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; 2 New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

While climate change mitigation efforts often occur at the national and international scale, adaptation actions take place at the local level, with principles of subsidiarity applying. Mounting pressures for adaptation planning and associated actions to increase community resilience mean there is increasing expectation and responsibility on local government to act as leaders in preparing and adapting to current and future climate change impacts. The perceived legitimacy, credibility, and saliency of climate change information can act as a significant barrier to creating politically anchored adaptation plans. The ‘translation’ of climate science and associated climate impacts to policy-facing adaptation plans and actions faces barriers associated with inherent uncertainties in climate data and the application of that data at a meaningful scale for local decision making. Local level decision makers are faced with the challenge of framing climate change impacts in the context of existing management aims and objects and at a relevant local scale. This paper documents the outputs of a series of planning workshops where methods of co-creation and documented social learning (changes in knowledge, network building, developing new understanding) between scientists, practitioners and local authority officials, have helped to overcome science-policy barriers and generate local adaptation plans with policy buy-in.

3. Anna Beswick, Joseph Hagg and Ellie Murtagh – Adaptation Scotland – Place based adaptation in Scotland – capabilities, maturity and outcomes

The Scottish Government funded Adaptation Scotland programme has been instrumental in setting up a series of high profile place based adaptation initiatives across Scotland’s major cities and city regions, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Glasgow City Region. These initiatives are important mechanisms for enabling collaboration and partnership working to address local and national priorities.

The presentation will reflect on the evolution of placed based initiatives, identifying common challenges and opportunities. This will include analysis of the organisational capabilities and maturity stages that Adaptation Scotland has identified as essential for progressing place based adaptation.

We will also reflect on the benefits of reframing the adaptation narrative from focusing on risk and impact towards communicating and demonstrating that adaptation is an enabling mechanism for delivering stronger outcomes across society, both nationally and locally. This will include practical examples from Scotland’s emerging outcomes focused approach to national adaptation planning and local examples of adaptation visions and outcomes that are helping to mainstream adaptation.

4. Eve Leegwater, Sylvie Allan – Environment Agency, England, UK – England’s evolving approach to its places

The UK Government publication of their 25 Year Environment Plan, and second National Adaptation Programme has provided an excellent policy backbone to promote the adaptation agenda in England. The evolving devolution agenda also represents opportunities to embed resilience measures through sub-regional growth and regeneration activities.

Our Environment Agency role as an advisor, regulator and operator of England’s environment puts us in a unique position to act as a thread between Government, industry and local communities.

Our planning and strategic overview role provides the opportunity to help the planning system meet its climate change objectives for flooding and the wider water environment, by delivering with and through others including developers, Local Authorities and Local Economic Partnerships. We can help local authorities and water companies to develop an understanding of future flood risk by providing climate change allowances guidance, share expected impacts on water availability, and support water companies with guidance on how to account for climate change in long-term water resource plans.

By helping translate Government policy into practicable tangible guidance, along with sharing of key data and evidence used on the ground, our organization is in a unique position to help shape placed-based adaptation in England.