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Feb 2020 | January-February Issue

A Formal Introduction to PSD’s Partner in Climate Change Adaptation
Dr. Peter Walton, University of Oxford
The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) was established by the UK Government in 1997 to co-ordinate research into the likely impacts of climate change in the United Kingdom and is  located in the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. UKCIP was originally established to provide decision-makers with information on climate change impacts, but did not initially have a remit to consider adaptation to climate change. The scope of the work has developed considerably, moving from engaging organizations in the initial assessment of impacts, to helping organizations develop and implement adaptation strategies and actions, and supporting the new legislative requirements associated with adaptation. 
UKCIP was the first organization of its kind in the world and is recognised as having played a major role in increasing awareness of the need to adapt and in driving forward action on the ground.
 
Today, UKCIP has twin aims: to improve knowledge and understanding of the impacts of climate change among stakeholders, and to help stakeholders to be better equipped to undertake adaptation to climate change, both in the UK and internationally. Part of this support process has been through the development of a portfolio of decision-making tools, many of which can be used at the different stages of the adaptation process. 
Risk-based approaches are commonly used to help make decisions on the basis of imperfect information and in a context of uncertainty. They offered a means of treating climate risks as one of many other risks that needed to be managed, making it easier to factor consideration of climate change into decision-making. 
 
Recognising the value of this approach, UKCIP worked with the UK Environment Agency to develop a framework to help UK organizations assess climate risks and make decisions on how to adapt. The framework was well received, particularly on the international arena: it has been recommended in UN, World Bank and European Environment Agency guidance, endorsed by the US National Academy of Sciences as a robust approach to informing decision-making under climate uncertainty and become an accepted methodology for climate adaptation assessments in the UK.
 
Similar approaches have since been developed based on the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard, such as the Australian Greenhouse Office’s climate change impacts and risk management guide and the Carpe Diem West Academy’s climate adaptation roadmap.
 
In spite of this success, the Risk Framework was regarded by some practitioners as being too theoretical and technically demanding to be readily applied by non-technical experts. Furthermore, although other tools and frameworks had been developed to address different components of the climate risk assessment and adaptation process (e.g. the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Wizard; the International Institute for Sustainable Development and partners’ “Livelihoods and climate change adaptation tool”; and The Netherlands Red Cross’s seven step risk reduction process), each had a fairly specific application, none of which was ideally suited to helping UK organizations adapt to climate change. 
 
UKCIP developed and launched the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard in 2005 to fill this gap and provide users with a simpler and more accessible version of the Risk Framework. It was modified and revised in 2008 and 2010 to reflect learning and experience acquired with practical application of the Wizard, and to keep pace with the rapidly evolving literature and experience of adaptation in action in the UK and internationally. 
 

I. DESCRIPTION OF THE TOOL 

 
The Wizard shares the Risk Framework’s intellectual basis and key concepts, yet is presented in a ‘lighter’ style and in an action-oriented format which helps to convert theory into practical action. The Wizard is a generic decision-support tool that covers all aspects of climate risk assessment and adaptation in one process. It is designed for application by a broad range of users and can be applied equally to a plan, a project, a programme or a policy, or as a valuable awareness-raising and educational tool.
 
The Wizard adopts a questions-driven approach to take users through a 5-step process to assess their climate risks and develop an adaptation response. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the Adaptation Wizard.
 
Figure 1. UKCIP Adaptation Wizard
 
Each question provides background information and then sets out a task or exercise for users to complete to help them generate the information needed to answer the questions posed. Where appropriate, templates are provided to capture the necessary information. At the end of each step, a checklist prompts users to ensure that all actions have been undertaken. A list of useful resources that may help in completing the tasks is also provided. The Wizard draws heavily on all other UKCIP tools and resources, and in this sense can be described as a ‘meta-tool’ [figure 2]. 
 
For instance, the UKCIP report “Managing adaptation” is essential reading in Step 1. The assessment of current vulnerability in Step 2 draws on the methods and experience of LCLIP. UKCP09 and BACLIAT are essential tools within Step 3; Step 4 draws on AdOpt, and Step 5 supported by guidance on Monitoring and Evaluation.  
 
Like the Risk Framework, the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard has been well received in the UK and abroad having been adapted and revised to form local level adaptation support tools in both the UK (in Norfolk and Lancashire) and abroad, as in the Climate Adaptation Wizard that has been developed for the State of Victoria, Australia. It has inspired the development of national level adaptation support tools in Germany (Kompass, 2010) and Slovenia (Cegnar, 2011) and is the basis of the European Union Clearinghouse’s Adaptation Support Tool. Elsewhere it has been described as “an inspiration for those developing similar computer-based tools and resources adjusted to a developing country setting.” 
 
In the UK, the Wizard has informed the methodologies of those submitting evidence under the Climate Change Act’s Reporting Power Authority and formed the methodological basis of Government’s Departmental Action Plans (DAPs). It has also had a major influence on revisions undertaken to HM Treasury’s Green Book Supplementary Guidance on Climate Resilience in 2011. Similarly, the Scottish Climate Change Impacts Partnership (SCCIP) produced guidance to Scottish businesses on how to adapt to climate change which was based almost exclusively on the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard and UKCIP’s Business Areas Climate Impact Assessment Tool (BACLIAT).
 
Figure 2. The UKCIP Adaptation Wizard as a meta-tool
 
 
Since ‘re-launching’ the Wizard in 2008, UKCIP has concentrated on ‘ground truthing’ the tool by helping individual organizations work through the Wizard process so that it can be tested for its relevance and robustness and improve its utility and value to users. 
 
In the years that UKCIP have been working with organizations on climate change adaptation, and in particular using the Adaptation Wizard, a number of important lessons have been identified, four of the top tips are:
 
1.  Organizations most likely to engage appear to be those that are already exposed to climate risks, have long lived assets and, critically, have an individual that is motivated and has the necessary resources or authority to take this issue on within the organization. Reputation is also a strong driver. 
 
2.  Ownership of the issue within an organization is important. Experience suggests that it can be useful for adaptation to sit within a risk management team, so climate risks can be managed as part of an overall package of organizational risk management. These individuals are familiar with making decisions on the basis of incomplete or uncertain information and are well positioned to judge the severity of the threats and opportunities posed by climate risks relative to other risks an organization has to cope with.
 
3.  Getting started is a crucial first step. Over the course of UKCIP’s lifetime we have learned just how important the starting point of an assessment is. The tendency is for an organization to want to ‘get on with the doing’. However, without giving suitable consideration to one’s goals and ambitions at the outset, an effective adaptation strategy will prove elusive. 
 
4.  Managing expectations: despite its name, the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard won’t develop a tailor-made adaptation strategy at the click of a few buttons. Developing and implementing an adaptation strategy takes time and commitment from a number of individuals within any organization. It helps if people have realistic expectations about the task ahead and have the necessary authority/support from senior management to give the time necessary to generate the requisite information. 
 

II. EXAMPLES OF USING THE WIZARD

 
The UKCIP Adaptation Wizard and other tools have been used in a range of contexts as already identified. Of particular interest to municipalities are these three case studies, which although UK-based, demonstrates their use within a local and regional planning situation. 
 
Adaptation planning for property services in a local authority
Oxfordshire County Council’s property Services set up a Climate Change Adaptation Group (CCAG) to assess the impact of weather and climate on their services. In particular, they considered risks to the County’s property stock and went on to consider adaptation responses before producing an Action Plan.
 
 
Summertime overheating was identified as a common occurrence in many buildings, particularly schools. The Council identified a range of contributory factors – weather, construction types, building materials, services being provided and user behaviour – with the aim of developing a mechanism/toolkit to assess buildings and the services delivered.
 
Community helps prevent flooding
Residents in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, were flooded as a result of blocked drains. Blocked drains often contribute to localized flooding, with leaf litter adding to the problem: clearing drains is expensive and labour intensive, and is the responsibility of the highway authorities. Removing leaf litter from drains helps to alleviate part of a flooding problem, generating awareness of simple preventative measures, and producing a valuable resource by composting the collected leaf litter. 
 
Following the implementation of this strategy Lostwithiel escaped further flooding during the next season’s heavy rains while some nearby areas suffered. Additionally, collected leaf litter has been successfully composted and given to local residents and councils to use as mulch. Reputationally the council are seen as leaders and now neighbouring areas are following this low carbon and sustainable approach to reducing flood risk.
 
Housing association produces a risk register and adaptation plan to protect its stock
A Housing Association that was originally Local Authority controlled until the stock was transferred to the private sector used the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard to complete a high level climate risk assessment and adaptation options scoping exercise as the first step towards protecting their strategic and operational objectives. 
 
This high level qualitative assessment successfully scoped out key issues for the business to consider. Through the work they have increased their understanding of the effects of the future climate on insurance policies, customer confidence and other specific business concerns. They have also raised awareness of climate change impacts within the organization.
 

III. CONCLUSION

 
UKCIP’s extensive experience has shown that adaptation is not an end in itself, but an on-going process. Indeed, perhaps of greater and more lasting value to the regional and sectoral scoping studies that were completed in the early years of UKCIP, were the on-going climate change partnerships they established. 
 
These partnerships have provided groups of engaged decision-makers with a means of working together to take forward the climate adaptation agenda within their areas of mutual interest, and to share their learning and experience. The Adaptation Wizard is a tried and tested risk-based decision-making tool whose applications are many and varied and has already been used at the local municipality level. Working with municipalities across Canada to understand how it could be applied and even developed is an exciting prospect for those in UKCIP and we very much look forward to working in this field to help create a more resilient community.  
 
In partnership with UKCIP, PSD works with organizations to assess their capacity to address climate change with a focus on asset management practices through the Climate Change Adaptation and Asset Management Program (CAAMP).
 
More information on CAAMP can be found here.
 
DR. PETER WALTON is a Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow with a background researching strategies to support public understanding and engagement with climate change science. He originally joined the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) at the University of Oxford in 2008 to manage Projections in Practice following the launch of the UK Climate Projections Programme ‘UKCP09’ and developed eLearning modules to support the continued use of the projections in relation to the wider adaptation agenda. Following a brief hiatus, Pete has returned to UKCIP to develop stakeholder engagement with climate research across the University of Oxford.