1 Getting started

Getting started will help you to:

  • express why you are considering adapting to climate change
  • define your objectives
  • assemble your team
  • put in place any internal procedures or mechanisms needed to help you.

Work through this step with your colleagues, answering all of the questions. Some of the most important decisions are made during this initial step, so it is vital that these decisions and the thinking behind them are clearly defined.

These basic activities will help you get going and ensure you get as much out of the process as possible. Make a note of the drivers that have encouraged you to take action – being clear about your motives will help you to communicate your objectives.

1.1 Building blocks

Read through the Wizard to ensure you understand what the process involves and how you can make the best use of it.

Engage your colleagues. Gather a small team of people to work with you throughout the process – engaging the right people will lead to a better product. You will need to review this team over time, as different skills and knowledge may be required at different stages of the process. For example, determining your vulnerability to recent weather (Step 2) will benefit from the knowledge of operational staff, while assessing the risk of potential impacts (Step 3) will need the involvement of management. Aim to match your team to the scope of your assessment: a broad and shallow assessment may need different input from one that is narrow and deep.

Obtain senior management support for this process. Completing the Wizard could require resource which may need the support or approval of senior management. Any adaptation measures identified are more likely to be implemented if the process has high-level support from the outset.

Make sure you have a good understanding of your organisation’s procedures to help you look for ways of including your adaptation measures in existing strategies.

Consider how change can be adopted in your organisation – addressing some climate risks may call for a fundamental review of activities and processes. Understanding how your organisation copes with transformations will help in the implementation phase.

Familiarise yourself with the principles of good adaptation.

1.2 What is your motivation for adapting?

Common motivations – or triggers – for taking adaptation action are:

  • Exposure to an extreme weather event, such as a flood or heatwave, brings into focus the impacts weather has on your organisation. This could raise questions about the potential for climate change to increase those impacts on, for example, reputation, health and safety, finances and operations.
  • Having responsibility for infrastructure and business functions that are sensitive to changes in climate.
  • A requirement from government or a client.
  • A desire to identify positive opportunities and gain an ‘early mover’ advantage over competitors.
  • Looking to adaptation as a follow-on step from mitigation.
  • A desire to enhance your reputation and be seen as a market leader on climate adaptation.
  • Maintaining business continuity is a matter of strategic importance.
  • A need to make decisions on long-term assets (decades or longer) such as land-use, infrastructure or population groups.
  • Having an individual with the skills, knowledge, motivation and leadership to engage their organisation with adaptation.

1.3 What do you want to achieve?

You must identify:

  • what the problem is;
  • what you intend to achieve;
  • and how you will be able to judge whether you have achieved what you set out to.

If your aim is to raise the awareness of your colleagues or wider professional network, consider what information is needed by whom and, more importantly, why. If any of this information is missing, think about how you will monitor whether the gaps have been filled.

If you are using the Wizard to make the case for adaptation to senior management, and are seeking their support for further work, consider what information will help to win their approval.

If your decision is to be resilient to climate change, what criteria will be used to evaluate whether your decision will be robust to that change?

If you wish to develop an adaptation strategy for your organisation, decide on the appropriate scope and level of analysis. Is a broad, strategic view going to be most appropriate, or would a more detailed assessment of one aspect of your organisation’s activity, which could then be replicated for other business functions, be more useful?

Make sure you have the right team of people involved to address the issue you are seeking to resolve.

1.4 What difficulties might you face?

Common barriers to adaptation action include:

  • a lack of awareness or an unsupportive institutional environment
  • scepticism
  • conflicting priorities and time pressures which can lead to long delays
  • a tendency to focus on the short-term
  • limited availability or lack of technical information
  • resistance to changing what an organisation does, and how it does it.

These barriers apply to both completing the Wizard itself, and to the implementation of any adaptation measures. Acknowledging and addressing these issues at the outset will help to complete the assessment process, and implement your adaptation measures.

1.1 Building blocks

  • Read through the Wizard, including About the Wizard
  • Assemble your team
  • Secure the necessary support to work through the Wizard

1.2 What is your motivation?

Explain your motivation for considering adapting to climate change, and make sure it is captured in your records.

1.3 Establish what you intend to achieve

Identify the problem you wish to address, and clarify your intended outcomes. This should include a decision on the scope and scale of your assessment, and make a record of the reasoning behind your decision.

Establish the broad criteria that constitute a successful outcome. These ‘success measures’ will be refined as you move through the process and will be used in Steps 4 and 5. Your initial views will guide your thinking later.

Think about the timescale for your assessment. For example, if building a climate resilient fixed asset is your focus, your assessment should be based on the expected lifespan of that asset. Timescales will examined further in Step 3.

Check that you have you have the right team of people involved.

1.4 Identify barriers and means of overcoming them

Identify potential barriers and constraints within your organisation, and think about how they might be overcome – you may find the force field diagram helpful (Figure 1). How can you minimise the effects of barriers and maximise the effects of drivers identified in Task 1.2?

UKCIP Wizard force field diagram

Understand how your organisation works, and how changes are usually implemented. Consider who needs to be involved, the context of your work, relevant regulations or legislation that influence your activities, performance targets, etc.

Check that you have engaged everyone who needs to be involved, both within your organisation and beyond.

  • A changing climate for business provides an introduction to climate change impacts and adaptation for a business audience and includes some key messages for business (pdf, 2.5 MB).
  • Climate Local, hosted by the local Government Association – provides useful information for Local Authorities on adapting to climate change.
  • The Managing adaptation summary is a guidance note that examines key issues to consider when making the transition from awareness to action (pdf, 5.8 MB).
  • The work of the ESPACE partnership on change management provides useful insights into overcoming barriers to engagement.
  • Oursouthwest Managing Change publication provides useful insights into potential barriers to action, and how to overcome them, as well as a Change Management matrix, which is a particularly valuable tool for understanding change management.