JBA Consulting’s Phil Emonson’s reflects on last month’s Flood and Coast workshop collaboration with Communities Prepared and on wider societal resilience to climate change.
With ‘whole of society’ resilience now a national government ambition, and reflecting on JBA’s own vision to ‘lead in society’s pursuit for resilience to climate change’, it was with huge pleasure that I delivered a workshop on societal resilience with colleagues from Communities Prepared at the recent CIWEM Flood & Coast conference. Delegates were given the opportunity to explore what societal resilience to climate change is and how those of us who work in flood, water and environmental management can contribute to it.
Risk Management Authorities have the opportunity to help raise awareness of local risks amongst the community, support adaptation strategies, help improve planning, training and exercising at a local level to improve response capabilities, and support effective and appropriate incident recovery. To do this there a number of questions that need considering when embarking on flood, water and environmental management schemes, such as:
- What are the demographics of the community in question, and what is the most effective engagement strategy for them?
- What FCRM activities can communities be involved in?
- What are the challenges and benefits arising?
- How can resilience to climate change be made sustainable, and what should ‘active’ resilience look like?
The Flood & Coast workshop reconfirmed that every community is different, and so we can’t rely on a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To effectively build societal resilience to climate change a greater portfolio of tools and resources needs to be available locally to engage different demographic groups.
JBA Consulting and Communities Prepared have combined expertise in emergency management, community resilience and wider community development. We have recently launched a joint offer specifically for local authorities in establishing and sustaining climate change resilience in local communities. Such support is tailored, and is of particular relevance to projects in Defra’s Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP). We aim to ensure local communities develop resilience to climate change and for the approach to be effective and adaptive to change whilst connecting individuals and groups. Services and support include:
- Supporting the community in sharing concerns and understanding responsibilities
- Considering ways to engage deeply with the community
- Mapping the risks and opportunities which exist locally
- Identifying risks and providing training in these emergencies
- Embedding non-technical skills in emergency planning, response and recovery
- Emergency response tabletop exercises and debriefing
- Community emergency plan co-development and review
- Communication and education campaigns
In December 2022, the UK government published the National Resilience Framework, officially making resilience a national endeavour. Emergencies in recent years such as the Covid-19 pandemic, flooding and drought, have put the spotlight on how the UK prepares and responds to threats. The Framework articulates the plans to strengthen the systems and capabilities that underpin the UK’s resilience to all civil contingency risks, with a priority to give greater transparency on the risks we face and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.
There are three core principles to the Framework:
1. a developed and shared understanding of the risks we face,
2. a greater emphasis on preparation and prevention, and
3. ensuring resilience is a ‘whole of society’ endeavour.
In the case of our changing climate, there is little that can be done to prevent the risks (such as coastal erosion, sea level rise, flooding, and warmer summers leading to more drought) and so a focus on adaptation is appropriate. At JBA, our resilience framework seeks therefore to promote adaptation.
JBA Consulting is part of the JBA family of environmental, engineering and risk management companies. They work collaboratively across disciplines combining analytical, engineering, social and nature-inspired solutions, supporting their clients to adapt and build resilience to climate change both in the UK and worldwide. Read more about their work on their website.
If you would like more information on this workshop and its contents please contact either Phil Emonson of JBA Consulting or Communities Prepared Programme Manager Hannah Baker.