Identifying adaptation ‘on the ground’: Development of a UK adaptation inventory

Katie Jenkins, Alistair Ford, Craig Robson, Robert J. Nicholls

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Adaptation plays a crucial role in managing the unavoidable risks from climate change. The UK is considered to be at the forefront of national adaptation planning. However, the extent to which plans and programmes translate into tangible risk reducing action on the ground, as opposed to adaptive capacity building, remains less clear. Given that there is no formal database of adaptation action for the UK, despite the various needs of government to identify, assess and report on adaptation progress, including the UK national stocktake on adaptation under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, this study outlines the development of an up-to-date and forward-looking UK Adaptation Inventory. The Inventory documents adaptation on the ground, based on national reporting to government by public and private sector organisations and a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature. The framework is centred on identifying and documenting current and planned adaptation; how it is being implemented in terms of the types of adaptation actions; and the sectors where adaptation is occurring and where gaps may remain. For the sub-set of sectors captured there is clear evidence of a wide range of cross-sectoral and sector-specific adaptation being implemented. In total, 360 examples were identified, over 80% of which have already been implemented. This comprises 134 different types of adaptation action, largely aimed at reducing vulnerability using engineered, built environment or technological mechanisms. Compared to the situation a decade earlier, this suggests that significant progress has occurred in the UK in terms of reporting and implementing adaptation, including adaptation by the private sector in climate sensitive sectors. At the broader level, the Inventory is a first step in providing a baseline assessment for the UK stocktake on adaptation; can help inform other organisations about adaptation options that are available; and provide case studies of actions in practice to help support decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100430
JournalClimate Risk Management
Early online date4 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Adaptation
  • Climate Change
  • Implementation
  • Stocktake
  • Systematic review
  • Systematic Review

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