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The National Adaptation Programme: building climate change resilience among vulnerable groups

The National Adaptation Programme will address the risks set out in the first UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, helping UK businesses, local authorities and civil society to become more resilient to climate change impacts.

As part of the health and wellbeing theme Defra is supporting work across the country to build resilient communities and reduce the impacts of climate change on the socially vulnerable.

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Building the UK’s resilience to climate change is an economic, social and environmental challenge that cuts across every sector of society. To help meet this challenge Defra is developing the National Adaptation Programme (NAP).

NAP will address the risks from climate change set out in the first UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

From our archive
» UK Climate Change Risk Assessment
: The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), published on 25 January 2012, builds on the 2009 UK Climate Projections to develop our understanding of climate risk and provide detailed analysis of the practical implications of climate change across all sectors of the economy and society.

The first NAP is due to be published in 2013, with subsequent reviews every five years, and will focus on helping UK businesses, local authorities and civil society to become more resilient to climate change impacts, working towards a “Climate Ready UK”:

“A society which makes timely, far-sighted and well-informed decisions to address the risks and opportunities posed by a changing climate.”

NAP will reflect new and current or ongoing policies within Government which are being proofed against climate risks, but equally Defra wants to encourage awareness and action beyond central government players. Working alongside businesses, local authorities and civil society, Defra hopes to stimulate innovative policymaking and to empower a wide variety of non-government organisations to take responsibility for finding the best solutions for their sector.

Social vulnerability and community resilience

Health and wellbeing is one of five core themes in the National Adaptation Programme, and includes building community resilience and addressing social vulnerability:

“Climate change could have significant implications for the health and wellbeing of the UK population. There are implications for public health, the continuity of health and social care services both within the NHS and beyond, the resilience of local emergency services and the impact on the most socially vulnerable. Although there may be some extremely welcome benefits, these are projected to be outweighed overall by a range of negative effects.”

Proposed aims for this theme are to create:

“A health service, public health and social care system resilient and adapted to a changing climate”


“Local resilience structures and capability take account of, and are resilient to, a changing climate”

Defra is already working in partnership with local authorities and civil society groups to support projects championing resilience to climate change impacts for the most vulnerable in society by strengthening capacity, capability, tools and guidance.

Mapping the needs of BME communities in Manchester

MC-UK is leading a project to map the needs of BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities impacted by changing climate across Greater Manchester, focusing on two particularly vulnerable communities: older people and the refugee and asylum community.

In its first phase the project will map the needs of BME older people and refugees and asylum communities to understand concerns, difficulties and solutions relating to the impact of changing climate on them and their families and friends in their countries of heritage.

The project will subsequently work to build capacity, raise awareness and empower the communities to address climate change impacts, through a creative toolkit and practical workshops. A final report will gather feedback from the project to offer recommendations for future action.

Building social resilience to heat and flooding in Islington

The Climate Resilience Islington South Project (CRISP) will explore the level of social resilience against climate impacts and principally heat and flooding, alongside education elements addressing vulnerability to air pollution and sun exposure. The project will investigate and ‘market-test’ a number of solutions around the optimisation of social capital, community resilience and enhancing the responsiveness of the statutory and voluntary sectors. The findings of the project will inform a new Community Climate Resilience Toolkit and Islington’s local extreme weather risk and resilience plan, as well as being replicable across urban local authorities.

The project will focus on areas identified as strongly subject to the urban heat island effect, with little green space, large concentrations of properties whose residents could be at particular risk of excess heat and a number of areas prone to flooding. Such areas also have considerable concentrations of tenants, both social and private, without the means to improve the resilience of their properties, and experience significant deprivation, poor physical and mental health, and generally increased risk.

The most significant challenges are to help people realise that they are vulnerable, to inform residents and service providers that heat waves constitute genuine health risks, and to improve understanding of the behavioural aspects of heat exposure. Whilst focussing primarily on behaviour adaptation and service preparedness the project will also identify buildings and estates that are the least climate-resilient and seek to identify fabric measures for future implementation.

Mapping vulnerability in Leeds

Leeds City Council is working to directly build climate resilience within vulnerable groups by developing a spatial tool allowing partners to map the most vulnerable residents of Leeds, overlaid by their relative exposure to severe weather events. The project aims to combine the most appropriate data sets, including work done in other cities and by the Environment Agency, with detailed data about the whereabouts of vulnerable people to develop a GIS tool.

The tool will help keep front line workers up to date with the severe weather risks of their clients and to assist in both longer term planning for severe weather events as well as the short term response when these events occur. Initially based in Leeds, the project will aim to develop a tool with practical applications for other Local Authorities.

Building resilience for people with mental health and substance misuse problems

Equinox is an organisation providing support and care for people with mental health and substance misuse problems who are often overlooked by mainstream services and marginalised by society.

Equinox will be working through peer led consultation with people who have experience of alcohol and drug problems and/or with mental ill health to gauge how to build resilience to climate change issues. The findings will inform the production guidance leaflets, appropriate to service users who are often outside the main target audience for such support.

Related article
» Equinox works with mental health and substance misuse service users for climate harm reduction »
: Catherine Max describes Equinox’s innovative climate harm reduction project to help mental health and substance misuse service users take action on the environment and develop resilience to climate change, contributing to the National Adaptation Programme.

User comments

  1. David Oakley-Hill says:

    This is all passive – lying back, accepting “business as usual”, assuming that climate change will just get worse and making the best of it. It ignores the Dec 2012 Doha Declaration

    Health Authorities are large and powerful. They should take a highly proactive role in PREVENTION. They should strongly oppose major developments that would have adverse effects on climate and health, and increase their workload and ability to cope.

    Example: an application has been made to expand capacity at Luton Airport from 10 to 18m passengers pa. This would deliberately increase pollution and congestion, bringing millions of extra car journeys and far more flights, adding to lung damage from particulates, NOx and ozone, and extending night flights causing sleep deprivation.

    The Draft Aviation Policy Framework states the need to “maintain the balance of benefits and costs of aviation, particularly climate change”. Airport expansion would not only fuel climate change, already increasing at levels dangerous to humanity, it would also bring serious disbenefits to the community and add substantial costs to the Health Service. This is unacceptable. The Health Service should demand that expansion should not be permitted, and further, that night flights are banned, not extended, as they ruin lives.

    • Nick Saltmarsh, SD Scene editor says:

      Thank you for your comment, which has been referred to the appropriate government team.

      We will publish any response provided.

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