ADAPTATION

ADAPTATION IN SCOTLAND

There is a well-established adaptation research base in Scotland, which is driving innovative solutions. Glasgow itself is fast becoming an ‘urban lab’ for resilience: utilising Big Data at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow and with the £24 million Future City Glasgow programme, and investigating urban heat island and green infrastructure at Caledonian University. The City Deal Programme has lent itself to development of comprehensive modelling of drainage and flood risk for the city-region, and a detailed study of coastal change in the Firth of Clyde.

Our work on adaptation must be focussed on people, and the need to see it happen on-the-ground. There is also clear recognition across Scottish society that it must be socially just, ensuring that all of our citizens are able to thrive in the face of climate change – including those who might be considered most vulnerable. Climate justice, here, across Europe and internationally, is a key theme for the conference.

There is a strong collaborative approach to adaptation in Scotland, which is demonstrated by the number of organisations supporting this conference. We have invested in partnerships, establishing both ClimateXChange and the Adaptation Scotland programme, which focus on building cross-boundary links. This will be harnessed in the coming years to advance the nascent European climate services market – something Scotland and the United Kingdom has been actively involved in promoting in its early stages.

We also look beyond Scotland, because we know that we have much to learn, as well as share. We work closely with our partners in the rest of the United Kingdom, who are supporting the conference. And, of course, we are actively building links with European and international partners – intra-city, within sectors and in research consortia.

Practice

Practice is where adaptation is put into action. In Scotland, and across the United Kingdom, we have a wealth of experience delivering on-the-ground adaptation – and this is set to accelerate in the coming years. We have a breadth of practice to share with delegates, with adaptation happening in dense urban centres like Glasgow, through fields and forests, to peat-blanketed uplands and islands on the edge of Europe.

Adaptation works best as a collaboration between partners in the public sector, businesses and communities, linking to the research community. The Adaptation Scotland programme has been fostering partnerships for more than a decade. Climate Ready Clyde is an exemplar of this approach in the Glasgow city-region. Delegates will be able to see how a small initial investment in creating partnerships can deliver huge benefits for adaptation.

Research

There is a well-established adaptation research base in Scotland. Glasgow itself is fast becoming an ‘urban lab’ for resilience: utilising Big Data at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow and with the £24 million Future City Glasgow programme; investigating urban heat island and green infrastructure at Caledonian University; comprehensive modelling of drainage and flood risk for the city-region; and detailed study of coastal change in the Firth of Clyde. Research informs adaptation in Glasgow and is increasingly driving innovative solutions.

Scottish academic institutions are involved in several FP7 projects. The University of Edinburgh is a leading example, with a key role in several major European research programmes including CLIMSAVE, OPERAS, and IMPRESSIONS – with each using Scotland as a case-study or exemplar at the science-policy-practice interface.

Scotland is at the forefront of innovation in linking policy-makers and the research community. In 2011, ClimateXChange was established as a centre of expertise to provide independent advice, research and analysis to support the Scottish Government as it develops and implements strategies on adapting to the changing climate and the transition to a low carbon society.

Policy

In Scotland, and the wider United Kingdom, we have taken a leading strategic approach to climate change adaptation policy. This has been challenging to implement – but we are making substantial progress and would welcome the opportunity to share our progress and reflect on lessons that we have learned.

The Climate Change Act (Scotland) 2009 introduced some of the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world. Every five years the Scottish Government is required to prepare a Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, the first of which began in May 2014. In 2017 this will be mid-way through and have been subjected to independent scrutiny by the Committee on Climate Change’s Adaptation Sub-Committee. The 2nd UK Climate Change Risk Assessment will also be published in 2017 and should provide a thought-provoking subject for delegates.

Scottish legislation also sets out climate change duties for all public bodies, including an obligation to act in the way best calculated to deliver the Adaptation Programme. Building on a longstanding voluntary commitment by Scottish local authorities to report on their adaptation actions, from 2016 all public bodies will have the duty to report on their progress – opening them all to scrutiny, but also promoting success and sharing best practice.

At the local level, Glasgow is implementing adaptation policy through a range of activities including strategic and local development planning, flood risk management, and embedding adaptation into major investments in regeneration and infrastructure. Delegates will be able to see the links between policy and on-the-ground action in many of the proposed excursions.

Scottish policy has established mechanisms to support adaptation learning and action: notably Adaptation Scotland, ClimateXChange, the Sustainable Scotland Network, the Climate Change Leaders Forum and a Cabinet Climate Change Sub-Committee.

Like many of our European partners, we face a tremendous challenge implementing climate change adaptation policy in Scotland. Our policy-makers welcome delegates to Scotland – to have a conversation about how we can bring about the transformation we need.

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