This research project aimed to explore how authorities can work with communities on future planning and decision-making to help reduce flood and coastal erosion risk in the face of climate change.
This will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about ways in which authorities, communities and partners can exchange views, build understanding and plan together. The tools and learning will be particularly useful for engagement staff in risk management authorities.
This research is a response to concerns about the impacts of climate change and the likelihood of significantly higher levels of risk to communities due to increased flooding or coastal erosion.
The research project included 3 phases:
a review of evidence on community engagement on climate adaptation to inform:
- designing and implementing an innovative community engagement programme in 2 pilot locations:
- Caterham on the Hill and Old Coulsdon, Surrey and London Borough of Croydon (surface water flooding)
- Hemsby, Norfolk (coastal erosion and storm surges)
- bringing together, reflecting on and documenting learning and practice
Overarching findings are presented in the project learning report, which builds on learning from the initial evidence review. They are grouped under 6 ‘engagement challenges’:
readiness: the knowledge, skills and capacities needed to enable collaborative FCERM decision-making;
framing, language and communication: the way people and organisations talk about things, which influences how others understand issues;
climate change, emotions and mental health: the fears and anxieties which shape people’s engagement with adaptation planning;
place attachment, culture and identity: emotional connections to places which affect how people think about the future of those places.
- power, politics and conflict: recognising that engagement and adaptation processes are inherently political and open to contention;
- scale: people and organisations work at different geographic and time scales, which can create tensions over different priorities.
An important overall theme is the value of stakeholders working collaboratively, which was integral to the project.
Engagement tools were created and trialled to address some of these challenges. The readiness assessment tool is designed to assess how prepared individuals, authorities, partnerships and communities are to engage on climate adaptation. The simulation is a participatory tool to help increase understanding of and planning for flood risk and climate adaptation among stakeholders. The scenario development exercise is designed to bring stakeholders together to anticipate possible futures and plan engagement.
The findings are already being used in the:
The project team held a webinar about the project and its outputs on 7 February 2023.
The evidence review was published in 2019 and informed the project’s pilot work.
A paper on place attachment was commissioned separately. It builds on evidence review themes.
Record of engagement
Another version of the readiness assessment was developed under a separate commission to be used in large complex work programmes and partnerships. The readiness self-assessment advisor’s handbook is a user guide for facilitators of the process.
Running a simulation exercise
Supplementary materials for running a simulation
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Project manager: Kate Kipling, Flood and Coastal Risk Management Research team
This project was commissioned by the Environment Agency’s FCRM Directorate, as part of the joint Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research and Development Programme.