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Accelerating adaptation action: Councils preparing for climate change

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Councils are critical in preparing people and places to the impacts of the changing climate. As leaders in communities, they deliver hundreds of essential services to protect public health, manage roads, prepare for floods, and provide open space. Nationally we are not sufficiently prepared for the impacts of climate change, and central government must prioritise its work with local government to close this gap. This research report explores local authorities' preparedness for climate adaptation.

Executive summary


Councils are critical in preparing people and places to the impacts of the changing climate. As leaders in communities, they deliver hundreds of essential services to protect public health, manage roads, prepare for floods, and provide open space. They are planning authorities, housing authorities, fire authorities and more. Nationally we are not sufficiently prepared for the impacts of climate change, and central government must prioritise its work with local government to close this gap.

Local Partnerships was commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) for this research piece into local authorities’ preparedness for climate adaptation. The objective was to investigate, understand and present what local government would like to see from a refreshed National Adaptation Plan (NAP3), and the wider national government policy, regulatory and funding framework, to accelerate central and local government’s collaboration on place-based adaptation to climate change. The work sought to identify recommendations to take to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).


The method taken aimed to be as inclusive as possible, ensuring views were captured from as many authorities as possible. Three separate components made up the approach:

  •  a voluntary survey for local authorities
  • external stakeholder interviews with key external stakeholders and agencies (including the Climate Change Committee (CCC))
  • a series of virtual workshops to explore in more depth the key themes coming through from the survey.


Through the evidence gathering stage several topics were discussed, with seven key themes and topics beginning to emerge, as they were mentioned on numerous occasions by multiple respondents which have formed the basis of the recommendations below.

It is clear there is a willingness within the sector to accelerate adaptation planning, with councils citing in their responses to the survey, that there are opportunities to improve health and wellbeing and quality of life, particularly of the most vulnerable and to build resilience for the long term and not just in an emergency.   

Central government needs to explore and provide support to local authorities for adaptation planning and action, to ensure local government services and leadership are adapted to the changing climate, where they can be, and resilient where this is not possible. Engagement with the local government sector should capture the wider views and experience in order to design and shape policy that will support councils with understanding climate risk and appropriate adaptive action. 

The third iteration of the NAP could be a five-year adaptation accelerator programme, providing the foundations for the long-term adaptation strategy, for the fourth NAP and beyond. The NAP needs to be a key tool in driving actions towards adaptation and not just a record of current practice and future risks.

To achieve this long-term ambition there are several components involved, led by central government, and working with councils and public sector partners, as shown below.

Summary of recommendations


Climate adaptation

The UK Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and 70 per cent of local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency. The government states in its response to CCRA3 that;

To achieve net zero, we must integrate adaptation action into mitigation efforts. Successful mitigation will in turn ensure adaptation remains achievable.”

Adaptation is sometimes known as resilience. Adaptation is how we adjust and implement measures to adjust to the changing climate and our response to increasing frequency and severity of weather events. Resilience is the ambition, adaptation is the method.

We must adapt to the challenges that arise from the significant climate impacts we are facing in the UK and take advantage of the opportunities it brings.


Across the UK, we expect to see:

  • warmer and wetter winters
  • hotter and drier summers
  • more frequent and intense weather extremes.

Climate change will make these conditions more likely. The UK’s weather will continue to be variable, but we will see more of this type of weather.


Climate risks

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk (CCRA3) in June 2021. This risk assessment provides advice to the Government on priorities for the forthcoming National Adaptation Programme (NAP).

More than 60 risks and opportunities were identified in the CCRA3, all of which have a touchpoint with local authority service delivery and local community resilience, with eight risks identified as requiring the most urgent attention. These are shown in Figure 1 below.

View Figure 1 description

The National Adaptation Programme

The National Adaptation Programme (NAP) sets out the actions that government and others will take to adapt to the challenges of climate change in England over a five-year period. DEFRA are currently working on the third iteration of the NAP. It will be published in Summer 2023 and will run from 2024 to 2029.

Local authorities are at the forefront of climate adaptation through their roles as place shapers and leaders of community resilience. The levels of preparedness amongst local authorities varies significantly, both across different types of authorities, but also across the range of climate risks.

The LGA commissioned Local Partnerships to conduct the research into local authorities’ preparedness for climate adaptation. Local Partnerships launched the Climate Adaptation Toolkit in January 2022, to provide a supportive framework for local authorities to enable development of adaptation plans and risk assessments.

The objective of this research study was to identify recommendations for the LGA to take to DEFRA for inclusion in NAP3, to help inform future policy and decisions which will support authorities with their climate adaptation plans, risk identification, and adaptive actions. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has stated that NAP3 is critical to setting out this vision for what a well-adapted UK looks like, and that this should be backed-up with clearly laid out specific and measurable resilience standards and targets.

Evidence gathering

Survey of local authorities

A voluntary survey was open between 5 December 2022 and 13 January 2023, for local authorities, through the platform Smart survey. It was promoted online through various newsletters, groups and social media platforms, both through the LGA and Local Partnerships. The survey received 83 responses in total suitable for analysis (59 complete and 24 partial).

62 local authorities in England responded to the survey, a summary of the number of responses per type of authority is shown in Table 1 below. Multiple responses were received for some authorities, reflecting the different perspectives from across service areas.

Table 1: Responses to the survey by authority type
Type of authority Total number % of total number in England
County 14 58%
District 23 13%
Unitary 11 19%
Metropolitan District 11 31%
London Borough 2 6%
Town 1 n/a


The survey consisted of a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions, and none of the questions were mandatory. The responses received in the survey helped to inform the content and format of the January workshops.

A full summary of the survey responses can be provided on request.           

External stakeholder interviews

As part of the evidence gathering stage, interviews were held with key external stakeholders virtually and with follow-up written questions. Depending on when the interviews took place, the outputs were used to either inform the survey questions or the workshop sessions.

The following stakeholders were interviewed.

Climate Change Committee

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is the UK’s independent adviser on climate change, and published the independent assessment of UK Climate Risk (CCRA3) in June 2021, with CCRA4 already underway and due in 2026.

The CCC’s report “Investment for a well-adapted UK” offers new analysis of the UK’s adaptation investment priorities. A key message from this report for government to action is “Clarifying adaptation goals and roles for investment: The next National Adaptation Programme (NAP3), due in summer 2023, is an opportunity to set out the vision for what adaptation in the UK should achieve and a framework of associated goal and metrics.”

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency (EA) is an executive non-departmental public body, established to protect and improve the environment. The EA is responsible for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea. It has responsibility for taking strategic overview of the management of all sources of flooding and coastal erosions and has published a National Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy for England, which provides information designed to ensure the roles of all those involved in managing risk are clearly defined and understood.  

National Farmers' Union

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is a representation body for agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales. It represents more than 46,000 farming and growing businesses.

The Met Office

The national meteorological service for the UK, providing data on severe weather and climate projections, to help organisations, including central and local government make informed decisions.

The Met Office are currently piloting a new climate hub specific for local authorities, which will provide open source datasets and infographic summaries for local authority areas to support local risk assessment and decision making.

The Association of British Insurers

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is the voice of the UK’s world-leading insurance and long-term savings industry, with over 200 member companies. Insurance provides the means to socialise risks across wider society and underpins other financial activities such as mortgage lending.

Flood Re

Flood Re is a joint initiative between the Government and insurers. Its aim is to make the flood cover part of household insurance policies more affordable through reinsurance and risk sharing between insurers and other financial bodies. Affordable and universal insurance is the aim in order to provide stability to the housing and lending markets. Flood Re is due to run until 2039, after which there will be a free market for flood insurance.

With free market insurance, insurers are not obliged to provide cover, so cover may not be available or affordable for all, which in turn could lead to areas of housing being unsuitable for mortgage lending with associated localised collapses in housing markets.

Flood Re have supported the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) and Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI)  guide for local authorities on planning for climate change.

National Grid

National Grid is an energy company that owns the UK high voltage network and as a distribution system operator is responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity in the East and West Midlands, the Southwest and Wales. Its third Climate Change Adaptation Report was published in July 2021 for the high voltage transmission network only. 

Summary of discussions

Through our discussions it was clear that the stakeholders we spoke to had varying levels of engagement with local authorities, and the engagement that they had had was centred around mitigation actions.

Key points from the discussions as follows:

  • Many felt a multi-agency approach to public engagement regarding climate risks would be beneficial.
  • Early engagement is key, but authorities should be given a steer as to which organisations they could and should engage with, and what benefits this would bring.


Respondents to the survey had the option to sign up to a follow-up workshop in January. Attendees to these sessions were therefore self-selected participants, with an interest in the topic of adaptation.

Three virtual sessions were held on Teams, providing authorities with the opportunity to expand on their survey responses and discuss with other local authority colleagues. The workshops took the format of informal roundtable discussions, were not recorded and contributions from attendees, included in this report, are not directly attributed to them or their authority.

Thirty participants in total joined the virtual sessions, with representatives from authorities across England. Most attendees worked in the environment or sustainability team of their authorities, although we did have one Chief Executive join the discussions.

Table 2 below shows the attendance of each type of authority across the three workshops. There was no representation at these workshops from London Boroughs or Town Councils.

Table 2: Authority representation at the workshops
Type of authority Total number at workshops Total number of survey responses
County 7 14
District 11  23
Unitary 6 11
Metropolitan 4 11
London Borough 0 2
Town 0 1


Figure 2 below shows the geographical spread of attendees.

A map of the UK showing the geographical spread of attendees, explained in Table 2



The objective of the workshops was to gather as much qualitative evidence as possible to report back to the LGA and DEFRA.

Emerging themes


Through the evidence gathering stage several topics were discussed, with certain key themes and topics beginning to emerge, as they were mentioned on numerous occasions by multiple respondents. These have been grouped into the following themes.

Awareness and prioritisation

Adaptation and mitigation should go hand in glove. There is more to do to elevate the significance and need for action on adaptation in line with mitigation. This is evidenced by those who responded to the survey and attended the workshops. The majority of people involved were members of their authority’s climate or sustainability department, and there was limited representation from other service areas/directorates of the council, despite climate underpinning and affecting everything, across all service areas. Workshop attendees said there is a good understanding of, and support behind mitigation actions, but not the same for adaptation.

There is a responsibility for senior executives and leaders to drive climate conversations, influencing form the top down. We had one Chief Executive join the workshop discussions who felt Chief Executives should be leading on this, and comments from others showed a clear appetite for adaptation literacy training, particularly for those in senior roles, and for finance directors.

Through conversations with external stakeholders, it was apparent the majority of engagement with local authorities has been on mitigation actions, as opposed to adaptive action. It was also raised in the workshops that developers understand net zero but not necessarily the gains from adaptation actions, such as urban greening and structural shading. Inclusion of adaptive measures and guidance in supplementary planning guidance should be given the same priority as energy efficiency and net zero.  Local Plan making provides an opportunity for adaptation to be reinforced as a priority – NAP2 states Local Plans as one of the reasons that local authorities have not been included under ARP to date. Local Plans are subject to a public inquiry as part of plan making and adoption, led by the Planning Inspectorate to determine whether or not a plan is soundly made. It could be explicit in the requirements for the plan making and for the inspection that climate adaption measures are properly considered. 

DEFRA currently facilitates the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel (LAAP) which is a multi-agency board consisting of a small group of local authorities, the EA and central government departments. This group is an important pool of expertise and experience and has produced good practice guidance for councils. The group’s current membership however is not representative of the local authority sector as a whole, and is therefore not gaining insights from councils who are facing challenges with internal and external engagement of stakeholders, or who may be progressing with innovative approaches to adaptation but unaware of the LAAP and its role as the intermediary between DEFRA and local government.  


  • Raise awareness across central and local government. Refer to adaptation alongside mitigation, at every opportunity, providing a clear national message on climate change and the need for action.
  • Make effort to reach out to local government beyond the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel, including at more senior officer and political level.
  • Local Plans to have mandatory climate adaptation included.
  • Include adaptation measures alongside net zero and emissions reduction measures e.g. full incorporation into retrofit advice, EPC and DEC certificates etc.
  • Implement a local climate test that all central government policy and funding decisions regarding local government should meet, so that they support local climate action.
  • Provide access to training on adaptation literacy.


Understanding data is the starting point for action, and the base on which everything else then follows. When a local authority wants to understand their actions in relation to mitigation, they first begin by calculating their baseline carbon emissions, to then determine what actions need to be taken to reduce emissions. It was evident, through discussions that it is not clear or understood what the corresponding starting point for adaptation is, and the process of collecting baseline data is not standardised across authorities.

The survey responses identified the following:

  • Twenty-one per cent of respondents said “lack of data” was a barrier faced by the authority in addressing impacts to communities and service delivery.
  • Sixty per cent of respondents said “more data / baselining” is needed to help understand the cost impacts of not adapting.
  • “Benchmarking data / examples sets to assess costs / costs of failure to adapt” was ranked number four when respondents were asked what guidance they want to see from government.

Throughout the three workshops the purpose and importance of data was discussed, and participants were asked if they collected data on severe weather events. The idea of bringing key data sets together on a platform that local authorities can access, providing consistency and the ability to compare data sets, was proposed during discussions, and met with positive reactions, with participants agreeing that a “consistent framework for data would help”. One participant said “the use of data is very important – it has to have a purpose and ideally support funding for increasing action on climate mitigation and adaptation”.

Several of the external stakeholders interviewed already provide data for local authorities. For example, the Environment Agency provides data on flood risk from rivers and the sea, as well as surface water flooding, and the Met Office provides data on climate projections. Joining up key data sources would provide authorities with a strong and consistent starting point, for example connection of the climate heat projections by local area with an understanding of the health demographics of the local population and the local housing stock would provide a basis for assessing areas most at risk from overheating. Public sector agencies largely run GIS databases and the ability to host central data sets in one location, with the ability to download and integrate with existing data sets would be a powerful tool which could be kept up to date. It is likely that DEFRA would need to host the central data sets, with individual local authorities downloading and tailoring their data at a local level.

Critical thresholds

An element of the data that requires further understanding is in relation to critical thresholds. A critical threshold is the point in a system at which sudden or rapid change occurs, and when exceeded, causes unacceptable losses or creates new opportunities. The thresholds, or tipping points, could be based on physical properties (e.g., a temperature threshold above which machinery or people cannot operate, or rainfall levels and surface water or flash flood incidents), or based on attitude to risk and when things become no longer tenable, for example when sudden and specific coastal erosion leads to the evacuation and demolition of homes.

It is clear from our research and discussions with local authorities during the workshops that more work needs to be done to understand what these thresholds are and how they may impact council services. The forthcoming datasets that will be available through the Met Office Climate Hub will support the identification of critical thresholds alongside a detailed review of service level risk registers.

Overlaying these critical thresholds on a national as well as local level would provide a greater picture of risk. Our workshops also indicated that further work needs to be done with local authorities to enable them to understand the concept of thresholds and cascading risks.


  • Provide central statistics and open-source data in a consistent and user-friendly format, with the ability to link into central data sets and overlay other sets of local data and local impacts.
  • Provide a central repository for the data, for local authorities to access, and require these data sources are used to compile their adaptation risk registers and locally led plans.
  • Further research and funding into the cost impacts of not adapting.
  • Provide a central repository for collation of the cost and impacts of extreme weather events (linked to reporting).
  • Provide a central repository for critical threshold data, and guidance on what this will mean for local authorities in their local context.
  • Commission research on the critical threshold trigger points, as opposed to the weather. E.g., at what temperature do council resources and services get diverted / closed.


Providing a reliable basis or framework for authorities to use would reduce duplication and ambiguity on adaptation planning. CCC wants to see NAP3 providing specific and measurable resilience standards and targets for adaptation. The topic of standardisation, and what this could look like for climate adaptation, was included in questions in the survey and discussed in further detail at the workshops.

The survey included the following question “How helpful would you find it to have a standardised approach to adaptation planning and risk assessment across local authorities?” Of the 63 responses to this question, none answered “unhelpful”. Forty-six per cent  answered “extremely helpful” and 44 per cent answered “somewhat helpful”. Table 3 below shows the responses.

Table 3: Responses to survey question "How helpful would you find it to have a standardised approach to adaptation planning and risk assessment across local authorities?"
Response Number of responses Percentage (%)
Extremely helpful 29 46%
Somewhat helpful 28 44%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 6 10%
Total number of responses 63 100%


Another mention of standardisation, in the survey, was as a follow on to a question on cost impacts of not adapting. We asked, “what is needed to help understand the cost impacts?” and provided five options for respondents to choose from, one of which was “a standardised approach to measurement and reporting” and this was the second most selected answer, with 72 per cent of all respondents selecting this option.

Discussions with participants at the workshops explored questions on standardisation and guidance required further, there is a strong appetite for direction and a clear consensus that the current adaption work is based on goodwill. Additionally, it was raised that many local authorities commission individual local assessments, with consultants, and rather than this approach continuing, which eats into budgets, a national guidance would be more helpful.

The second highest ranked response to “What guidance and information do you want to see from the Government on adaptation?” was a “framework for assessing and managing risk” with 43 per cent of respondents ranking it in their top three. This was supported through the workshop discussions; “we need someone to set the framework for us”.


For authorities to have a standardised approach to follow they must also be provided with clear guidance. When asked in the survey “do you have any thoughts and/or examples of how the barriers (to addressing the impacts of climate change to both communities and service delivery) can be addressed and reduced?” a lot of the responses centred around needing clear guidance from central government. In addition, when asked “what is needed to help understand the cost impacts (of not adaptation)?” 60 per cent of respondents selected “Further guidance”.

The workshop discussions sought to understand what participants meant by guidance, who they wanted it to come from, and in what shape or form it would be most helpful. There was also some debate on the usefulness of reporting, which is discussed later in section 4.8.

A question in the survey also sought to answer this question, by asking “What guidance and information do you want to see from the Government on adaptation?” Respondents were provided with nine options to choose from. “Clear roles and responsibilities” ranked number one overall, and was a topic raised in discussions with stakeholders and authorities. It is explored in further detail below.

The need for direction from central government is apparent, with a keenness for practical and tangible tools for councils to grab hold of and use, the implementation of a framework would also support benchmarking and learning from each other. One participant commented: “We need to be told what the benchmark for achievement is.”


  • Provide a framework for adaptation planning for local authorities to follow. Including guidance on what and how to prioritise, set targets, practical tools for identify and addressing issues, templates to use, etc.
  • Offer a clear and consistent approach to climate risk identification and reporting. This should be in a format suitable format to drive third party TCFD.

Roles and responsibilities

Following on from the above points on guidance, the survey asked “what guidance and information do you want to see from the Government, on adaptation?” the option that came out on top was “clear roles and responsibilities” (28 per cent of respondents ranked this at number one), and this was explored further in the workshop discussions.

Points that arose from the discussions on roles and responsibilities are as follows:

  • There are different responsibilities across county and district councils, a joined-up approach is needed, and this needs to come from central government.
  • We are continually spending money to develop tools as there is a lack of clarity and responsibility.
  • Clarity on authority and accountability across central and local government will drive productivity and reduce duplication.
  • Different departments own different risks, it might be helpful to share that with local authorities.
  • Councils can be unsure where to invest, clarity on responsibility would help.
  • Differing experiences with stakeholders when emergencies occur, clarity on roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders could increase levels of cooperation.

Clarity on roles could align to the following principles:

Ownership of risk – defined by spatial and geographic boundaries such as river catchments, coastlines and urban heat islands and identification of which communities, infrastructure and council service delivery are at risk. Ownership of risks should be determined by lead organisation for future planning of services at the local level. Local Resilience Forums (LRF) are undergoing elements of reform with strengthening of responsibilities through the UK Resilience Framework and may seem like a natural fit for a leading role in adaptation. LRF provide a key role in the emergency response to a wide range of critical incidents (from terror attacks to severe weather events and natural disasters) however the ownership of risk management and delivery of adaptive measures (including communication and messaging) is best held by local authorities as the lead in place making. Cooperation between neighbouring authorities and stakeholders (such as landowners, the EA, coast guard etc) is essential and a strong case can be made for a regional oversight body, to coordinate and facilitate co-operation, collaboration and to provide clarity over emergency response vs adaptive action planning.

Ownership of data, toolkits and reporting frameworks – this is a role that could be best held by DEFRA, to provide access to a repository of robust, consistent data and risk assessment and reporting frameworks. Oversight of the regional activity could be undertaken centrally, based on governance structures that follow forthcoming recommendations from the CCC (CCRA4 will be taking a systems approach to identifying risk and cascading impacts).


  • Assign a clear set of roles and responsibilities for the different councils, and services, Local Resilience Forums, statutory undertakers, landowners and central government departments.
  • Specify sub-national/regional partnership structures/framework bringing together councils to provide strategic and operational delivery of actions.
  • Provide clear identification and powers in relation to specific risks (these may not all be council owned e.g. surface water flooding).
  • Work with Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) to identify opportunities and influence local adaptation action.
  • DEFRA owns overall risk to adaptation and needs to speak with one voice back to government.

Governance, partnership and workforce 

Implementing decisions, developing a skilled capable workforce, and ensuring accountability, will accelerate adaptation action.

Climate underpins everything and it is the job of corporate leaders to open the doors for colleagues for constructive exploration of the impacts of climate on service delivery, communities, and businesses and to facilitate assessment of risk and capital investment.

Councils’ relationships with external stakeholders range significantly. Some are struggling to engage, or simply don’t engage with the likes of utility providers, or local land owners, whereas others have good working relationships. These are often down to the individuals and contacts within the organisations.

The survey found that “lack of resourcing (staff)” was the second most (73 per cent) selected barrier authorities faced in addressing impacts to communities and service delivery.

Powers / duty to co-operate

Local authorities have limited powers to effect change in some areas, including flooding and building design. Climate needs to be at the centre of discussions on master planning. Climate impacts are no respecters of administrative or service boundaries and planning for climate adaptation needs to take a multi-agency approach, that also reaches relevant private sector entities such as utility providers and large local landowners. Whilst the duty to co-operate between planning authorities has historically been fraught with difficulty in some areas there needs to be a mechanism to ensure that relevant stakeholders engage with local authorities in the preparation of climate adaptation plans. Whilst a statutory duty is not a universal solution, requiring these external bodies to engage with the local authority if asked to do so would provide additional leverage to broaden inclusion and improve the quality of adaptations available.


  • Enable and support regional partnership working and introduce a duty for organisations (landowners, water companies, Distribution Network Operators) to cooperate and work in partnerships with councils.
  • All central government decisions to take account of the impacts of climate change, and in particular risks identified by TCFD to feed through into decision making.
  • Work with local authorities to develop a strategy for creating a workforce to the people with capacity, skills, experience to deliver for local authorities and the wider economy.


To make meaningful change and apply sufficient resources to delivering on climate action plans (both mitigation and adaptation), local authorities need additional funding or the ability to generate finance opportunities. It is understood how stretched local authorities are on officer resource and budget, and that a key priority at the moment is just survival. As such, if there is no funding or finance provided for non-statutory activity it is likely to be overlooked by finance directors. A lack of understanding, or lack of data in order to understand risk of underinvestment in climate adaptation is preventing meaningful risk assessment and delivery of adaptive measures.

In the survey, when asked “what do you consider to be the biggest impacts due to a changing climate?” the highest ranked impact, out of the eight options provided, was “Financial” with 41 per cent ranking it as number one, and 76 per cent of all respondents ranking it in the top three.

“Lack of funding/available finance” was also the top identified barrier (93 per cent) faced by authorities in addressing impacts to both communities and service delivery.


  • Provide local adaptation accelerator funding, with allocations to every authority, building on long-term capacity for risk identification and adaptation action planning. Local government to agree top line objectives with central government, to receive the funding.
  • Introduce a time limited technical advisory service to be provided alongside the accelerator funding with the outcome that funding recipients produce and adopt an adaptation plan.
  • Development of a transparent and long-term scheme of tax and incentives to enable delivery of a pipeline of investable projects, prioritising nature-based climate adaptation solutions.


The survey included the following question “What is your preference for reporting on adaptation and local assessment of climate risk?” Of the 63 responses to this question, 46 per cent answered “mandatory reporting” and 30 per cent answered “voluntary reporting”, whilst only three per cent answered “no reporting”. Table 4 below shows the responses.

Table 4: Respondents preference for reporting
Response Number of responses Percentage (%)
Mandatory reporting 29 46%
Voluntary reporting 19 30%
Don't know 13 21%
No reporting 2 3%
Total responses 63  


When the topic of reporting was discussed in the workshops there was a mix of views, a summary of the pros and cons, shared by workshops attendees is captured in below.

Although it is clear there is an appetite for reporting on adaptation, there is a concern that without extra resource or funding the reporting will be difficult. Guidance for reporting is required, as is standardisation, so everyone is reporting on the same thing. It is also worth noting that the survey respondents were largely sustainability officers who may view statutory reporting as a means to gaining more traction, this view may not be echoed elsewhere in the authority such as at CEO or member level.

A requirement to report provides a baseline, monitors progress, allows sharing of information, and could lead to improvements.


  • Ensure the Adaptation Reporting Powers (ARP) pilot focuses on how reporting drives action, impacts, and costs.
  • Working with councils, consider what the value of mandatory reporting would be. Start with voluntary reporting.
  • Support local authorities to identify climate risks and to produce and maintain an adaptation plan. The plan must be capable of scrutiny, therefore there must be a clear monitoring process introduced.
  • Support organisations to report on the cost and impacts of extreme weather events (linked to data).


Central government needs to explore and provide support to local authorities for adaptation planning and action, to ensure local government services and leadership are adapted to the changing climate, where they can be, and resilient where this is not possible. Engagement with the local government sector should capture the wider views and experience in order to design and shape policy that will support councils with understanding climate risk and appropriate adaptive action. 

The third iteration of the NAP could be a five-year adaptation accelerator programme, providing the foundations for the long-term adaptation strategy, for the fourth NAP and beyond. The NAP needs to be a key tool in driving actions towards adaptation and not just a record of current practice and future risks.

To achieve this long-term ambition there are several components involved, led by central government, and working with councils and public sector partners. As shown below.

Summary of recommendations

Contact details

Local Partnerships

Email: [email protected]

Andrew Richmond, Policy Advisor, Local Government Association

Email: [email protected]