It’s all about interdependency…

This week’s launch of the assessment of England’s progress on adaptation to climate change is very welcome, and focuses on a number of topics close to UKCIP and our stakeholders.

It’s good news that the ‘comprehensive’ work of the energy sector to make power supplies more resilient in the face of extreme weather is highlighted as a positive achievement. Other sectors, though, may feel that their ‘needs improvement’ assessment is a little harsh.

I hope that the Adaptation Sub-Committee’s report will give new urgency to consideration of the tightly-knit interdependencies that characterise our critical national infrastructure. Where would energy generation be without a water supply? How could transport systems function without reliable data and telecoms services? What’s the impact on staff availability when severe weather causes road and rail disruption ?

I firmly believe that only by looking across our infrastructure provision to see the links between them, and the vital services they provide, can we begin to see where vulnerabilities in one area might endanger others. There will also be opportunities to explore. By sharing information and working together we can build a more robust infrastructure that provides a host of services our communities depend upon.

Through UKCIP’s work as home to the Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change (ARCC) network, we are facilitating an infrastructure dialogue. This has brought together representatives from infrastructure research, policy and practice to try to nurture progress in this tricky realm of understanding and take action to tackle the challenges arising from infrastructure interdependencies.

There is still a long way to go, but perhaps in next year’s progress report, the Adaptation Sub-Committee may feel that infrastructure providers have done enough to earn a ‘good’ rating.

Posted: 9 July 2014