Devon, Cornwall and Isle of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy (2023)

RSK, including subsidiaries WRc and ADAS, worked with Devon County Council, on behalf of the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (DCIoS) Climate Impacts Group (CIG), to prepare a strategic-level Climate Adaptation Strategy, comprising three sections: a climate risk and opportunity assessment, an adaptation plan, and an action plan that will set out priority actions for regional collaboration over the next 5 years. This was achieved through consultation with the CIG and other industry stakeholders and organisations through various rounds of workshops and engagement.‚Äč

Researched

Conducted a literature review and climate change risk and opportunity assessment using UKCP18 model outputs.

Engaged

Facilitated extensive stakeholder engagement with key organisations and policymakers.

Evaluated

Developed an adaptation register, mapping solutions to identified risks, and conducted a multi-criteria analysis to prioritise strategic adaptation actions.

Client: Devon County Council / DCIoS Climate Impacts Group

Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly councils are a grouping of regional government organisations overseeing public services and administration in Southwest England. As a vital public sector entity, they manage a diverse range of services, catering to the needs of communities across the region, serving a significant population and ensuring effective governance.

The Challenge

The Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy grapples with the profound challenges posed by climate change in the region. An in-depth climate change risk and opportunity assessment revealed five major impact themes, all with significant implications for human health. These include heightened susceptibility to river and surface water flooding, rising sea levels leading to coastal flooding and erosion, reduced water availability and drought conditions, shifts in temperature and extreme weather events, and the potential for cascading impacts triggered by multiple hazards occurring coincidentally or sequentially. The strategy highlights the urgent need for collaborative regional action to address these threats, emphasising the unique vulnerabilities of the region and the imperative to enhance resilience against the evolving climate risks.

The Solution

To tackle the identified challenges, the strategic adaptation plan outlines a comprehensive, multi-level approach for the next five years. Recognising the diverse impacts climate change will have on different areas, the plan targets policy/regulator-level, organisational-level, community-level, and individual-level actors and actions. By fostering collaboration and focusing on top-tier levels to create enabling conditions, the strategy aims to develop place-based adaptation options that enhance the resilience of interconnected human-environment systems. Sector-specific directions and actions were proposed, including initiatives to support the natural environment, infrastructure, health and the built environment, business and industry, and addressing cross-cutting risks. The emphasis is on building awareness, equipping sectors with knowledge and skills, and ensuring a collective, region-wide commitment to adaptation.

The Outcome

The desired outcome of the Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy is a region that is well-prepared and resilient in the face of climate change impacts. The action plan, spanning the next 2-3 years, outlines short-term actions for policymakers, organisations, community groups, and individuals. By building resilience partnerships, developing awareness campaigns, and implementing strategic measures, the strategy aims to mitigate the immediate risks posed by flooding, extreme weather events, and water scarcity. The collaborative approach involves a wide array of stakeholders, from government bodies and businesses to local communities and individuals. The envisioned outcome is a region equipped to tackle current climate challenges as well as adapting to future uncertainty, fostering sustainability and resilience.

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