Birmingham City Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan

This case study was developed as part of SWM’s support for the Birmingham Environmental Partnership.

Organisation

Green Infrastructure and Adaptation Delivery Group, Birmingham City Council

Summary

To improve Birmingham City Council’s understanding of the risks from climate change, the Climate Change Adaptation Partnership (2008-11) was established as a sub group of Birmingham Environmental Partnership to report to DEFRA on National Indicator 188: adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The work of the Partnership allowed Birmingham for the first time to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of climate change (including flooding, temperature and air quality) on a variety of functions including:

  • Built and critical infrastructure
  • Business and the economy
  • Community
  • Health and wellbeing

The project aimed to bring together all of the findings from the previous three years and outline a framework to ensure Birmingham City Council continued to adapt to climate change through its newly created Green Infrastructure and Adaptation Delivery Group.

The aims

The aims of the project were to:

  • Bring together all of the findings and case studies relating to climate risk in Birmingham and outline strategic actions and a framework to ensure Birmingham continues to adapt to climate change.
  • Clarify and formalise the relationship between the stakeholders on climate change across Birmingham.
  • Identify the local strategic linkages required to ensure a holistic approach to adaptation across Birmingham in order to minimise risks and maximise opportunities available.

The challenges

A key challenge whilst completing the project was identifying ownership and support for the delivery of actions in the CCAAP.

Another challenge was ensuring that the complex research was clearly understandable to all stakeholders.

The solutions

The Climate Change Adaptation Partnership retained and expanded its remit as the Green Infrastructure and Adaptation (GIA) Delivery Group in July 2011 through approval from the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Sustainability as a new Birmingham Environmental Partnership sub-group. The GIA Delivery Group took ownership of the CCAAP.

The results

As a result of producing the CCAAP and embedding it into the work of the GIA Delivery Group, Birmingham will continue to work on understanding the risks from climate change, embedding adaptation into policy, and taking advantage of the opportunities when adapting.

The strength of the GIA Delivery Group owning the CCAAP is that it can respond to the risks of climate change by using a holistic, multi-functional approach which maximises the socioeconomic and environmental benefits. For example, through the use of green infrastructure to ameliorate the urban heat island, the GIA Delivery Group can also ensure opportunities are maximised for health improvements, biodiversity, minimising flood risk etc.

The CCAAP will be updated annually to ensure that the GIA are publicising their latest research and case studies. This will also help to track the progress of the Action Plan.

Learning points

  • Ensuring that the CCAAP had a long term owner and strategic direction was essential to ensure its effectiveness. The project timescales were extended to ensure that there was certainty within the GIA Delivery Group to fully endorse the content and actions of the CCAAP.
  • The Acton Plan is an interactive PDF which works well for its intended online use. This also means that it can be used a resource centre.

SWM comment

As climate change is an increasingly growing concern, the West Midlands will inevitably be affected by its impacts.  Thus, developing an understanding of these impacts is essential in planning much-needed climate adaptation practices. By ensuring that Birmingham adapts to climate change by incorporating adaptation into policy, CCAAP is playing a crucial role in protecting the region from climate change-associated threats.

Contact

For more details, please see the Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2012, as well as the Birmingham City Council website and Be Birmingham website. In addition, you can contact Richard Rees for more information.