In May, as it was reported that the world’s glaciers are melting at an accelerated rate, the Prime Minister announced an acceleration of the UK’s climate change commitments ahead of COP26, now pledging a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035.
If we are to meet increasingly ambitious environmental targets, and ensure we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for our planet, a completely fresh approach is needed.
Atkins’ long history in catchment management has opened our eyes to the value of working in partnership with nature across all our projects. This, we believe, is the key to making real progress when it comes to climate change.
A multi-benefit approach
By working in harmony with nature using sustainable and adaptable approaches, we can address existing challenges such as flood resilience and biodiversity loss, while also considering the bigger picture and making realistic strides towards broader environmental improvements and social value.
A natural capital approach is key to this; taking account of the natural stocks and assets around us. In this way we can facilitate positive enhancements and design forward-looking projects that work in partnership with nature in the most effective way possible. Atkins’ Natural Capital Studio accounting tool automatically calculates natural capital across a range of scenarios to make it easier to integrate this approach into project planning, supporting sustainability targets and maximising the value of nature-based solutions.
Atkins has a long history of designing nature-based solutions that make real improvements to habitat quality across catchments. Recently, we worked with the Environment Agency on Defra Natural Flood Management trials on the River Soar. The main objective was to reduce the risk of flooding downstream – which we did through a variety of natural measures – but the approach also highlighted opportunities to maximise natural capital and ended up achieving far broader benefits. By slowing the flow and storing water on the floodplain, the resulting wetland sequestered carbon, trapped sediment and nutrients, and created a rich habitat for a range of wildlife.
Many stakeholders are looking at projects like the River Soar, and realising the real potential of nature-based solutions to maximise the natural capital value of their assets, marking the start of an industry and societal shift to working in harmony with nature.
Tools to work with nature
Unlike traditional engineering solutions which are designed to achieve formulaic outcomes, nature-based solutions are not set in stone. In contrast, they are designed to evolve over time, so it’s not clear what future adaptations might be required.
We’ve developed digital tools that allow us to assess different scheme evolution scenarios to increase confidence in the impact and value of nature-based solutions. Our NFM (Natural Flood Management) Studio uses detailed modelling to identify optimum locations for interventions, calculates capacity and simulates the effectiveness of various natural flood management solutions, while our SuDs (Sustainable Drainage Systems) Studio automates the assessment phase of drainage projects and identifies green infrastructure opportunities through digital mapping.
Using these tools to optimise value, nature-based solutions suddenly become much more attractive. By generating tangible calculations and accurate scenario modelling, technology can support decision making, encourage greener choices and avoid costly wrong turns.
Calling out to local authorities across the UK: We want to hear your voices at Flood and Coast2021! Register for free and join like-minded people focused on the most important issues in flood and coastal erosion risk management and engage with other stakeholders before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Even though climate change is beyond doubt, planning for it involves uncertainty as to exactly how its impacts will progress and how fast. That calls for a flexible approach to building resilience, using adaption pathways to decide and act in a measured, affordable and effective way.
Modelling of earth systems is at the heart of climate science, telling us what changes to expect in temperature, precipitation, sea level rise and acute weather events. Although climate models are calibrated to the observed climate, forecasts of future change come with ranges of uncertainty.
Uncertainty stems from some big unknowns: our ability to meet global emission reduction targets; political determination to cut emissions and use of regulation and legislation to turn intentions into actions; and localised variations in climatic response. So how best to respond when the future looks ambiguous?
By developing climate adaptation pathways and embracing uncertainty, organisations and communities can respond in a planned but flexible way to observed and projected changes. This approach involves applying various ‘if-then’ scenarios and designing options for a full range of possible futures, but only triggering action when the effects of climate change approach defined risk thresholds.
Ready for change
All adaptation pathways must be consulted on and agreed as part of long-term local strategies for improving local lives. When this happens, it makes clients and communities agile. If climate change results in rapid sea level rise, there is a resilience plan to implement. However, if the rise is more gradual, then protection can be pushed back, and investment deferred.
Over time risk profiles may change as a result of altered emissions affecting the pace of climate change, changing land use, and changes in the number of people or value of assets. Adaptive pathways accommodate these variables too, keeping options open.
Uncertainty about the exact trajectory of climate change and the return periods for major climate-related events is a significant challenge to securing investment in resilience. Because the adaptive pathways approach plots physical trigger points for action and clearly defines the consequences of inaction, it strengthens the business case.
Better solutions and outcomes
Deferring action until necessary provides time for new technologies to emerge. There is particular opportunity in digital solutions, which are rapidly improving our ability to model and comprehend large, complex challenges such as climate resilience, make better-informed decisions, engage stakeholders, communicate, make effective interventions, and assess the outcomes.
Asset owners, governments and supply chain organisations are waking up to the potential of harvesting and using data to achieve this, with pioneers doing so to plan and deliver new assets. Immediate benefits include the ability to use data to quantify and reduce capital and operational carbon emissions and cost when developing and selecting resilience options. Libraries of digital assets enable solutions to be rapidly developed using ready-designed components, reducing time required to complete relatively low value design tasks and freeing more time for creative problem-solving, enabling better solutions that deliver greater value for money. Collaboration around shared data and using common tools enables experts from different organisations to work together effectively as teams. And stakeholders – from emergency service providers to community representatives – can understand designers’ intentions, see potential impacts and mitigations, and discuss ways to optimise project performance. All of these benefits are being delivered already through our technology platform, Moata.
Projects being delivered today are providing digital assets for tomorrow. Data created during planning, design and construction provides owners with virtual models of their digital assets that can be augmented with data from diverse sources – sensors and SCADA embedded in the assets, remote sensing and monitoring, meteorological data, and user data, for example. Data is already enhancing our ability to see requirements and opportunities, target action, and achieve the greatest positive impact for our clients, partners and communities.
Adaptive resilience employs a combination of traditional engineering with new approaches, including nature-based solutions that employ vegetation and landscaping to meet some or all of the protection required, while enhancing biodiversity and amenity value for people. The goal is proportionate, cost-effective and sustainable protection from the physical impacts of climate change.
Find out more about Moata and the solutions it supports for carbon reduction, smart infrastructure and augmented delivery.
We are excited to announce Helen Jackson, Niki Roach, Sakthi Karunanithi, Katie Kimber, Rachel Maskell MP, Caroline Douglass and Terry Fuller as our opening plenary speakers at Flood and Coast 2021. They will share lessons learned while working on 'Flooding in a global pandemic' and how we will use this experience to create a more resilient world.
Widespread, severe flooding across the UK in winter 2015-2016 led the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) to commission researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen to look at the long-term impacts of flooding on communities and on individuals. Over three years, the study for the Scottish government gained detailed insight into the experiences of people living in two flooded communities. No previous research has adopted a similar longitudinal, qualitative approach, or engaged with people in communities for such a long time after a flood.
The study analysed responses to an extensive household survey and annual interviews with householders and business owners and managers. It recommends ways for communities, statutory and voluntary agencies to enhance responses to flooding and deliver better support after a flood.
This article focuses on a retired couple, whose names we’ve changed to Graham and Susan. Researchers interviewed Graham and Susan, together, three times; around 18 months, 30 months and 40 months after their home flooded on the morning of Wednesday 30th December 2015. This revealed how complex, challenging and harrowing it can be to pick up your life after a severe flood. Both Graham and Susan felt the impacts long after they returned to their renovated home. Their story shows how many factors after the flood reshape the sense of what is normal. Read full article
At Jacobs, we’re challenging today to reinvent tomorrow by solving the world’s most critical problems for thriving cities, resilient environments, mission-critical outcomes, operational advancement, scientific discovery and cutting-edge manufacturing. We turn abstract ideas into realities that transform the world for good.
We have some 1,200 water and environmental professionals across the UK, and can reach back to a pool of approx. 4,800 working across the globe. Our water and environmental teams work closely with the diversity of technical professionals that is Jacobs, from all engineering disciplines to architects to digital solutions, to bring the best global capability and solutions to every local client.
The Broadland Flood Alleviation Project (BFAP) is a unique 20-year scheme to improve and maintain 240 km of flood defences within the Norfolk Broads, one of Europe’s most important wetland areas. Jacobs is lead consultant, working in an integrated team with Environment Agency and BAM Nutall.
The main purpose of the project is to provide a strategic approach to improving the level of flood protection in Broadland, while engaging key stakeholders and the local community, which is fundamental to achieving this objective. The project area is located wholly within the Norfolk Broads, which is an extensive area of wetland covering some 30 000ha, with a status equivalent to that of a National Park. The focus of the project is to improve and maintain the flood defences along the tidal reaches of the Rivers Yare, Bure, Waveney and their tributaries in Norfolk and North Suffolk. As well as the 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the flood defences also protect 24,000ha of agricultural land, 1,700 private properties, 14 undefended communities, rail and road infrastructure systems, important archaeological and built heritage structural remains, and several recreational facilities.
The project has come to its 20th and final year of implementation and has achieved its objectives of protecting homes and farmland from flooding. It has also meant protection and improvement of habitat for rare and endangered species. Other benefits include: an improved landscape, as well as a safer area for farmers and anglers, through placing over 3km of overhead electric cables underground; enhanced mooring facilities, improved navigation of channels and new slipways for boaters; new platforms for anglers, as well as 100km of upgraded footpaths for everyone to enjoy the area.
We are passionate in what we do and work with our clients and communities to leave a lasting and positive legacy of which we can be proud. We bring unconstrained thinking and creativity to deliver bold sustainable outcomes. We are enabled and informed by new technology and approaches, applying these intelligently to what we do. We attract the very best technical and scientific minds – diverse, collaborative, creative and disruptive thinkers with a will to succeed where others have failed.
Floods can be commercially and personally devastating. That’s why you need to choose the right partner with the right knowledge, experience and product mix to work alongside you and your team to ensure that your project delivers the highest standard of flood protection available.
Flood Control International work with a range of clients including public authorities, architects, engineering consultancies, private businesses and main contractors, that need to design in, or install, dependable flood mitigation measures for their clients or themselves where there is a risk that properties can be flooded and lives put in danger. Since 1994, we have been designing, supplying and installing the most comprehensive range of flood defence systems in the world.
Our now 12 strong team of UK based, in-house designers have unrivalled experience in designing a range of project specific floodgates, flood doors, glass flood walls and flood barriers, with typical projects ranging from £50k to £2.5m.
From our modular, FM Approved, demountable flood barrier system to fully automatic flood barriers that rise up / drop down or slide in to position as required, we will ensure that you get the right flood protection solution for your site.
Our consultants and design engineers can identify the flood management solution that provides the best possible protection from floods. FCI takes its innovative flood prevention designs through the manufacturing process to deliver solutions built to the highest exacting standards using steel, aluminium and glass. A full installation service is available using our highly experienced trained fitters.
From a simple slot-in flood barrier to the largest heavy duty steel floodgates, our professional installers are committed to delivering a safe and efficient service. Once completed, the flood prevention installation can be tested and training provided by our team on the correct use of the system.
Our vision is to be the world leader in the design and supply of flood control barriers and gates for infrastructure and commercial / industrial projects.
Following the success of the 2020 digital series, the 2021 Flood and Coast conference and expo is going virtual this year.
The four-day event will take place on Hopin, a virtual event platform designed to feel like an in-person event. Each day will be fully packed with interactive sessions, live exhibition booths, and networking opportunities, with the audience addressing some of the most important issues in FCERM. Delegates will interact with speakers through the live Q&A sessions, meet with exhibitors in our live expo hall, and connect with new people through video networking.
You can choose to purchase a delegate pass to attend the whole conference (VIP access to all sessions, networking and expo areas) or book one-day tickets to attend the sessions of most interest to you. Visitor passes are also available for those interested in accessing the networking and expo areas only. There will be several opportunities throughout the day where visitors can interact with other delegates.
This session will feature short overviews by the host and each speaker looking at the innovative funding from a strategic perspective, followed by questions from the audience. Practical case study examples will then be shared by a ranged of speakers, with a further opportunity for the audience to ask questions and enable extensive consideration of the issues of most importance to delegates.
CIWEM’s 2021 Consultants and contractors file showcases the companies that bring the solutions to the greatest challenges humanity as ever faced.
The companies listed this year are demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and delivering professional excellence. They are aligned with CIWEM’s mission, to grow a community of people dedicated to sustainable management of water and the environment and meeting the climate and ecological challenges. Access here
The Environment Agency’s prestigious Flood & Coast Excellence Awards (previously known as the Project Excellence Awards) recognise and celebrate work that manages flood and coastal risk, builds local flood resilience and takes action on climate change. We received a wide range of excellent submissions for 2020 which demonstrated real-life examples of what is possible when we apply teamwork, creativity and professionalism to meet the challenges we face across the Flood and Coastal Risk Management sector. See our 2020 winners brochure.
In the coming weeks, we will be opening the nomination period for the Flood & Coast Excellence Awards 2021. More information on the categories and nomination process will be shared.
Adapting for Tomorrow's Environment brings together stories from across the water and environmental management sector, highlighting the importance of rapid action and showcasing some of the latest initiatives in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Access the full programme for free at https://adapt4tomorrow.ciwem.org
The 'Climate emergency: global leadership on adaptation' session, chaired by Environment Agency Chair and Global Commission on Adaptation commissioner Emma Howard Boyd, will look at where the most acute challenges are being faced across the world. How are these nations and communities adapting? What can we learn from their experience? How can it be applied in the UK setting? And critically, how can we lead on climate-resilient recovery from Covid-19 and achieve our net-zero ambitions?
Creating Climate Resilient Places will feature short presentations by our host and speakers, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Topics covered during the 2 hour session include the impact of the UK's new FCERM Policy Statement and the EA's National FCERM Strategy, nature-based solutions and climate resilience, keeping communities at the heart of our approaches and how land use planning can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
We are extremely pleased to announce Town and Country Planning Association Policy Director Hugh Ellis as our esteemed host for the first digital session, Creating climate resilient places, taking place on 13 October.
Hugh’s responsibilities at the TCPA include leading on policy development, and briefings and engagement with central governments and politicians. In 2018 he led the secretariat for the Raynsford Review setting out a blue print for a new planning system in England.
Flood and Coast and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) are pleased to announce a brand-new video series being produced by ASN Media in support of the Flood and Coast Digital Series.
ASN Media are already hard at work producing a news style programme in partnership with CIWEM titled ‘Adapting for Tomorrow's Environment’, due to launch in December 2020 (more information here). Additionally, ASN Media will produce a series of short videos focused around the themes for Flood and Coast 2020 that will be filmed using remote techniques and presented by a reporter from a studio. It will capture some of the key talking points of the conference and explore the biggest challenges facing the FCERM sector in preparation for COP26.
If you’re interested in contributing towards this series please contact Max Smith, Director at ASN Media at email@example.com.
For media enquiries, contact Jane Boland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) has partnered with ASN Media to produce a news and current affairs programme about the role of water and environmental management professionals in developing solutions to the climate and ecological emergency.
Presented by Tom Heap (BBC News, Countryfile, Panorama), the programme will feature interviews and special reports from across the water and environmental management sector that take a multidisciplinary approach to climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience.
“CIWEM is centrally placed as a multidisciplinary knowledge hub to facilitate many of the solutions to the climate and ecological emergency. As the importance of delivering together increases, so does the need to share successes. This exciting partnership with ASN Media enables CIWEM to ensure these stories reach broarder audiences,” said Terry Fuller, Chief Executive of CIWEM.
With governments around the world declaring climate emergencies, CIWEM is clear that bodies at all levels of society must factor adaptation and resilience into their management and development programmes. CIWEM recognises the necessity for environmental professionals and decision makers to develop greater trust with the communities that bear the brunt of the crisis humankind faces from global overheating, extreme weather events and wildlife loss.
‘Adapting for Tomorrow's Environment’ will highlight the work of leaders and organisations advancing the latest initiatives in climate adaptation whilst maintaining the application of scientific rigour and impartiality. The programme will promote professionalism and technical leadership whilst raising awareness and inspiring the next generation of environmental professionals.
Max Smith, Director, ASN Media said, “As our planet faces unprecedented challenges, there’s never been a more important time to broadcast the important work underway to support a sustainable future. We’re excited to engage with CIWEM and professionals throughout the water and environmental management sector to tell those stories.”
‘Adapting for Tomorrow's Environment’ will launch in December during the Flood and Coast 2020 webinar series (a CIWEM event produced in partnership with the Environment Agency). It will then be promoted through an extensive digital marketing and communications campaign to the wider environmental sector, including CIWEM members and partners, government, industry and academia.
Organisations interested in contributing should contact Max Smith of ASN Media at email@example.com.
For media enquiries, contact Jane Boland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUT NOW: CIWEM’s Consultants and Contractors File 2021