West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2021-2026

Date of the report

November 2021

Author of the report

SWM, in collaboration with the Environment Agency

Purpose of the report

This plan sets out the climate change adaptation actions that should be considered for implementation by decision makers in the West Midlands, to ensure that our natural environment, people, infrastructure, buildings and businesses are prepared for the impacts of climate change, including greater incidence and severity of flooding, a higher likelihood of water scarcity and more intense and prolonged heatwaves.

The plan is the first of its kind for the West Midlands and acts as a catalyst to action on climate adaptation, in light of increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather. It was compiled in collaboration with the Environment Agency, with intelligence gathered from expert local stakeholders and using the Independent Assessment for UK Climate Risk (CCRA3) methodology and findings, which SWM was also involved in.

Key Findings

  • There are 56 risks or opportunities from climate change that apply to the West Midlands. Of these, 43 are risks, 6 are deemed a risk and opportunity and 7 are opportunities.
  • Of the 43 risks, 28 require more action in the immediate term. In only two cases are we able to sustain current action.
  • The plan contains 76 actions that should be considered to help ensure we are adapted to these risks, and can take advantage of opportunities.
  • Some of these actions can be integrated with other priorities (e.g. tree planting, improving building ventilation) and others are quick wins (such as provision of advice and guidance). Others will require more resource.
  • Of the 76 actions, 21 are deemed a ‘very high’ priority to address, owing to a gap in progress, policy or other interventions, or the likely effectiveness of the action to help the region adapt, or the associated risk telling us that more action is needed urgently.
  • The actions  are split into Governance, reporting and monitoring (14), Natural environment (16), Infrastructure (12), Health, communities and built environment (21) and Business and industry (13).
  • Actions that should be addressed by organisations under the jurisdiction of the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP) are not included. An example of this would be ensuring our railways are resilient to climate impacts, given that Network Rail are bound to reporting against the ARP.

Next steps and recommendations

SWM recommends that the next steps and principles towards successful implementation are as follows.

  • Identify and implement the quick-wins included in the Action Plan. Implementing these actions while groundwork is prepared to tackle the others would be a good start.
  • Following this, other actions in the plan should be prioritised depending on the urgency of action (we have suggested this in the Priority column), the resource requirements and the number of partners that would need to be engaged.
  • Taking an adaptation pathways approach is recommended, as this will help to build flexibility into adaptation actions, which can help to manage the long-term and uncertain nature of climate change impacts.
  • To enable any actions to be taken, an immediate priority should be in the re-establishment of a West Midlands Climate Adaptation Working Group to drive forward these actions and influence policy and decision makers accordingly.
  • Engaging with key decision makers, such as Councillors, senior leaders and the West Midlands Mayor, needs to happen quickly, to reflect the urgency of the need to adapt and to establish buy-in.
  • There also needs to be engagement with key enablers of these actions, such as technical consultancies, national Government departments, local authorities, Local Resilience Forums and other bodies who influence health, natural environment and resilient infrastructure outcomes.
  • A robust monitoring and evaluation process needs to be developed alongside this Plan, to ensure the actions are having the desired impact. This should sit alongside a process for reporting.
  • The region is progressing on the implementation of Net Zero projects and activities. Wherever possible, adaptation measures should be integrated into these activities to double the impact of the activity whilst minimising resource requirements. This would also ensure adaptation actions do not threaten to contradict Net Zero targets, or visa-versa. The same principle applies to natural environment improvement projects.
  • Funding opportunities will be crucial to the successful implementation of some of these actions. Mapping of funding opportunities and lobbying of central Government funding needs to take place hand-in-hand, to encourage appropriate investment. There also needs to be strategic use of public sector funds to lever in appropriate private sector investment.
  • A final initial and quick step is to peruse the resources included in the report to enable those less familiar with climate adaptation and resilience to become more informed.

Links and contact information

Please contact SWM at enquiries@swm.org.uk for more information.

Downloads

West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2021-2026

We’re also running a briefing webinar on 27 January 2022 on the key findings of the Plan and next steps. You can book here.