What do CIWEM’s climate change experts want from the next National Adaptation Programme?

Record breaking temperatures, floods, drought, and more extreme weather events are becoming more common as the impacts of climate change hit. And with no credible pathway to keep global heating to within 1.5 degrees, adapting to our changing climate is more urgent than ever.

Adaptation aims to reduce our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. As part of the Climate Change Act 2010, the government is required to publish a National Adaptation Programme (NAP) every five years, setting out what government, industry and society are doing to adapt.

The publication of the third iteration of the NAP, due this summer, is a critical moment for the Government’s record on climate change. The previous two versions of the NAP have been inadequate, and have done little to drive adaptation.

With Government describing the NAP as “our five year strategy to build the UK’s climate resilience”, members of our Climate Change specialist panel give their views on what they want to see in the next NAP.

Cara Labuschagne, Lead Analyst – Resilient Infrastructure, Climate Change Committee

NAP3 must make a step change. It needs to set out a clear vision for adaptation. Making that vision operational requires a delivery programme with measurable goals and a theory of change to demonstrate how the outcomes link to the activities in the programme.

Additional high-ambition commitments are needed to improve the UK’s vulnerability to climate change. These should involve increased public funding for adaptation as well as helping to remove barriers to private investment. Without sufficient ambition another five years risk being lost.

For NAP3 to be effective it must have a clear focus on delivery and a broader scope, including risks from climate change outside of the UK. Finally, a functioning monitoring and evaluation system as well as ongoing development of the programme throughout the 5 year cycle are essential to track progress and close gaps in adaptation delivery as they are identified.

The CCC’s full assessment of requirements for NAP3 is set out in our most recent report to Parliament on progress in adapting to climate change.

Adam Hosking, Global Director - Water Resources, Jacobs

The Climate Change Committee’s recent adaptation progress report makes it very clear that the pace and scale of adaptation in the UK is far behind where it needs to be, and this risks exacerbating the impacts of climate change on the economy, environment and society.

It’s a frustrating situation as the Climate Change Act, and it’s requirement for the NAP, means we should be far ahead of where we are. As such, it’s essential that NAP3 sets out the integrated, ambitious programme of actions needed to address the risks we face as a nation. It must go much further than pervious NAPs, and set a clear vision for what a well-adapted UK looks like.

To date the programme has really been a laundry list of initiatives, without a clear focus and coherence. Extending the Adaptation Reporting Power programme and making it compulsory is important, but doing so in a framework that enables cross-sector co-ordination and effective management of interdependencies.

Climate change crosses all our sectoral and institutional silo’s and the NAP has the opportunity to set out the platform for co-ordination, to ensure we’re all pulling in the same direction, towards the same vision.

Maria Sunyer, Managing Consultant, Ecoact

There is clear evidence that the UK is neither adapted to climate change nor prepared to deal with it. The recent report by the Committee on Climate Change concludes that all sectors of the economy are lagging behind on adaptation, including businesses. In the case of businesses, the report highlights that both plans and policies, and their implementation, lag far behind measures to prepare for future climate.

The reporting requirements of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) are leading to a better understanding of risks and opportunities for business, but more plans and policies are needed to support adaptation efforts. We must strive to make progress on regulation and reporting; further guidance, standards, and financial instruments will be critical to ensure business adaptation action.

The second National Adaptation Programme (NAP2) failed to enable and deliver clear progress on adaptation within businesses. A priority for NAP3 should be to provide a clear vision, next steps, and key actions to support and ensure that businesses can adapt to climate change, not only to prepare for and increase their own resilience but also to play their part in building the UK’s preparedness and resilience to climate change.

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