Supporting society’s pursuit for climate resilience

Climate change is happening now and its effects will continue to impact our communities and the environment. During this year’s Flood and Coast conference, the Environment Agency published its Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy Roadmap to 2026 which sets out the practical actions to be taken over the next four years to build a nation prepared for and resilient to flooding and coastal change.

As a key strategic partner to the Environment Agency, our work will be crucial to delivering against these actions. In this blog, we reflect on the Roadmap and the alignment with our own ambition to lead in society’s pursuit for resilience to climate change.

Launched by Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan and Floods Minister Rebecca Pow during Flood and Coast, the new FCERM Roadmap builds on existing progress and sets out how we can be better prepared for the impacts of climate change by ensuring we are resilient and ready to respond and adapt to flooding and coastal change. It directly supports the implementation of the £5.2 billion capital investment programme in England which will better protect many hundreds of thousands of properties from flooding and coastal erosion by 2027.

Creating Climate Resilient Places

The Roadmap states how “creating climate-resilient places lies at the heart of our Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy. Its vision is for “a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and to the year 2100”.

JBA was delighted to have received the Climate Resilient Places Award at this year’s Flood and Coast, on behalf of the entire South-West PFR Pathfinder team. This project was an excellent example of what can be achieved through partners working together, adopting a collaborative one-team approach, echoing the Strategy Roadmap’s call for collective action:

We cannot do this alone. So we have come together with a wide range of partners to develop a Roadmap to 2026 that sets out the practical actions we will collectively take to achieve our ambitions.”

The three PFR Pathfinder projects are the latest examples of investment by Defra and the Environment Agency to create tools and inform FCERM policy that serve as a legacy and a platform for the wider rollout of society’s pursuit for climate resilience. Through the South-West Pathfinder, we now have a truly innovative approach to raising awareness of how we can adapt, respond and recover from flooding, thanks to the creative genius of Aardman Animations and ‘Missy’s Tale’. We also have the ‘BeFloodReady’ brand and website; flood awareness exhibition trailers; climate change exhibitions; and a system for capturing the location and condition of all PFR installations across the country, ‘PFR Assured’.

The Flood Pod, Missy's Tale and Key Items to remember in a flood
Communicating flood resilience

Having developed these resources using the significant investment made via the pathfinder, it is now incumbent upon us all to use them. We must realise the benefits that such projects generate and not just file the outputs away, only to be ‘reinvented’ years down the line. As experience shows this can often be the case.

Flood barriers - supporting in society's pursuit for resilience
BeFloodReady website resource

The acceleration of change

The Strategy Roadmap to 2026 also looks forward to the year 2100 with its aim of “ensuring progress towards a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and to the year 2100.” But unless we accelerate our efforts to adapt to the growing threats from climate change, looking beyond 2050 could well be overly optimistic.

The climate emergency threatens to bring unprecedented challenges to the places we live and work in. Without taking further urgent action to adapt:

  • summer temperatures are set to be up to 7.4C hotter by 2050;
  • there will be 59 per cent more winter rainfall; and
  • by 2100, once-a-century sea-level events are expected to be annual events.

This acceleration of change will touch every aspect of our lives. For example, in addition to the extremes of flooding, there will be serious challenges in meeting our need for water resources too. In regards to sea level rise, the latest IPCC report states that “sea level continues to rise at an increasing rate. Extreme sea-level events that are historically rare (once per century in the recent past) are projected to occur frequently (at least once per year) at many locations by 2050 in all RCP scenarios.”

The Environment Agency’s John Curtin remarked just how alarming these predictions are, such that the surge of 1953 and 2013 could become annual events, begging the question “What would a once-in-a-century event look like in 2050?”. And as Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard-Boyd has said: “We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences”.

Taking action now

JBA is committed to doing all we can to support society’s pursuit of climate resilience. We hope that the alarm bells rung throughout this year’s Flood and Coast, and climate change warnings such as Emma Howard-Boyd’s ‘Adapt or die’ are now also accompanied by renewed support and actions. There needs to be a step-change in how we attract attention and gain wider awareness of increasing flood risk – but also of the actions we must take now in order to adapt.

The PFR Pathfinder projects and ground-breaking outputs such as Aardman Animation’s ‘Missy’s Tale’ demonstrate how much great work has already been achieved. We just need concerted effort now to realise the benefits and build on these foundations in our pursuit of climate resilience.

Want to know more?

For more information about the PFR Pathfinder projects, please contact Peter May.

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