Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, is striving to be a world leader on climate change adaptation and a driver for transformational change. The wider Glasgow City Region has just launched its first Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan specifically dedicated to adapting to the risks associated with the climate crisis. The Strategy addresses the urgent need to move from single-point solutions to a systemic approach to tackling climate challenges.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is facing major challenges in the wake of the impacts of the climate crisis. Frequent tidal and surface flooding, as well as other weather events such as heatwaves, are a real threat to the Region on the River Clyde. The Adaptation Strategy to manage and prevent these risks and hazards was developed by Sniffer in collaboration with EIT Climate-KIC and other organisations on behalf of Climate Ready Clyde, an initiative that brought to life Clyde Rebuilt – a chapter of the EIT Climate-KIC “Deep Demonstration Resilient Regions” programme.

The power of communities

Climate Ready Clyde has brought together a range of stakeholders, such as community groups, local councils, universities, businesses, government agencies and other bodies to work together to collectively map the risks and opportunities, as well as the drivers and catalysts of change. Glasgow City Region is a place where people, location and resources combine to create a sense of identity and purpose. This is at the heart of addressing the needs and realising the full potential of communities.

As a result of our work with Clyde Rebuilt, we were able to collectively develop a Strategy and Action Plan that is uniquely different to many other climate adaptation strategies, and has been recognised by the UK Committee for Climate Change as one of the leading examples of how to address climate risks in the UK and sets out a strong vision that aims to help Glasgow City Region to flourish in a future climate.” – Catherine Pearce, Innovation Manager at Sniffer commented on the strategy. “It means seeking opportunities and co-benefits from our adaptation and resilience measures that will enable us to thrive, rather than just addressing the incremental level of what is needed to manage climate risks in Glasgow. The Strategy is also about how these co-benefits impact on the health and wellbeing of residents. – She adds.

The Strategy, which aims to ensure Glasgow City Region’s economy, society and environment are more than prepared for the impacts of climate change, sets ambitious goals and aims to increase the resilience of more than 140,000 people most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming. It also sets a target of closing the region’s adaptation finance gap of £184 million per year and seeks to involve 125 new organisations, community groups and businesses supporting the Glasgow City Region.

Key strategic interventions 

The Strategy contains eleven interconnected interventions that introduce a broader systemic perspective to move from incremental to transformative change to be achieved by 2030. Progress will be monitored and reviewed every two years to identify where development and action is taking place and what considerations can be made for future action. These interventions include reforming, transforming and expanding governance mechanisms to nurture new leadership and raise expectations in society. This relates to how decisions are made and who makes those decisions to ensure greater inclusivity and agency in relation to the missing voices of the wider community.

The Action Plan, with 16 Flagship Actions, to be achieved by 2025, also includes addressing blue-green infrastructure, nature-based solutions for resilient landscapes and neighbourhoods, such as the Clyde Climate Forest, which includes woodlands, tree planting, forestry, biodiversity and expanding carbon sequestration opportunities. “The river is of central importance; our aim is to restore the relationship with the River Clyde. Green infrastructure helps people reconnect with their natural environment. The pandemic has shown the importance of being able to be outside in local parks, local green spaces, where people can go, to, enjoy and connect. But restoring and revitalising green spaces is not just about planting trees, it’s about stewardship and ownership and residents need to be part of that,” says Catherine Pearce.

Increasing adaptation finance through leverage and innovation is another important intervention highlighted in Glasgow’s Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. According to Sniffer, public sector funding is currently insufficient. “The Strategy emphasises how we can unlock private sector investment in climate adaptation. Climate adaptation measures do not generate revenue, but they serve the broader common good and common interest. The role of the Strategy is to support the idea of how we can change that conversation,” Pearce adds, suggesting that one of the solutions might be to look at Glasgow’s net-zero projects for opportunities.

Leaving no one behind

Socio-economic inequalities and deprivation remain a major issue for Glasgow City Region. The Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan focuses on just resilience, as the impacts of climate change will hit the most vulnerable hardest, often those who are most marginalised and least heard. For this reason, in developing the Strategy, the Climate Ready Clyde initiative mapped the communities in the region that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Achieving just resilience will ensure that the benefits of adaptation are broadly and equitably distributed across Glasgow City Region to contribute to greater prosperity, and that adaptation measures do not exacerbate existing inequalities. “The social and economic inequalities created by the impacts of climate change mean that people vary in their ability to cope. We have identified 140,0000 residents who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and are seeking to increase their resilience, “says Catherine Pearce in relation to the just resilience aspect of the Strategy.

In the context of tackling poverty issues, improving energy efficiency and closing the skills gap, Glasgow City Region has set out plans for a housing retrofit scheme to retrofit 420,000 homes, which should also improve and speed up the Region’s efforts to tackle climate change challenge. “People do not always see themselves as vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and therefore do not necessarily recognise where those impacts are coming from. That’s where this Strategy comes in,” Pearce said.

EIT Climate-KIC is proud to be a partner of the UN High Level Champion’s Race to Resilience campaign, which is working to step-up global ambition for climate resilience in the run-up to COP26 and beyond. For more on the Race to Resilience partners and initiatives, or how to get involved, see here.

 
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United Kingdom
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