The UK government is seeking to review its approach to climate change adaptation and is currently consulting with stakeholders on this.

The National Adaptation Programme is the Government’s strategy to address the main risks and opportunities identified for England and is reviewed every five years. The first National Adaptation Programme was published in July 2013 and the second in 2018. The devolved administrations have their own similar programmes. DEFRA is now in the process of gathering evidence for the next review to be released in June 2023.

The National Adaptation Programme sets out what government and others will be doing over the next five years to be ready for the challenges of climate change. It includes the following key areas: raising awareness of the need for climate change adaptation, improving the evidence base, and taking timely action to increase resilience to the main groups of risks highlighted in its latest risk assessment.

DEFRA commenced initial stakeholder workshops in February this year with some further events held in the summer. The main issues they were particularly interested in exploring were:

  • the wider dependences influencing climate
  • whether climate issues are conflated by other influences, e.g. COVID or the conflict in Ukraine
  • what the appetite is for engagement and in which sectors
  • what the investment challenges are and what is viewed as a barrier

DEFRA expects to be able to get their initial findings to Ministers by November.

The Secretary of State also has the power to require public service organisations to produce reports on what they are doing to adapt to climate change. 

Just over 100 such organisations have been invited to report. DEFRA is also seeking to understand how climate change is being integrated into the risk management of these reporting organisations.

DEFRA will also be looking at cities to understand what the scale of governance is in relation to climate and how green investment is being used for climate adaptation. This is an important point – at Climate Week in New York in September, our Champion members, Mott MacDonald hosted a webinar on the financial imperative for climate resilience. Contributors there were vocal in the need for the coming together between sectors on investment. For example, the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) was set up specifically to encourage collaboration between industries, sectors and regions.

For the private sector, incentive structures and market forces are central to decision-making on investment. Government, both local and national, are driven by economic, social and eco-value considerations. Both require effective integration if we are to maximise investment potential.

We look forward to the 3rd National Adaptation Programme for the UK next summer. It is to be hoped that the programme sets out the government’s plans clearly and isn’t simply evidence-gathering on who is doing what in the UK. Collaboration between sectors will have to be a feature of adaptation planning going forward and the business community has to have clarity on how it can play its part.

We expect this to be the approach to resilience planning in the UK in the forthcoming National Resilience Strategy. Resilience First will be producing a blueprint for business on resilience planning with Champion members, PA Consulting, later this year. It is incumbent on any government to ensure that this multi-sectoral approach is embedded into all strategies that will aid the UK in addressing climate change effects and if the UK is to achieve optimum resilience.