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Engaging coastal communities with climate change

Organisation: Defra / JBA Consulting

Case study focus

Raising Awareness / Community engagement / Coastal flooding / Coastal erosion

This case study summarises a research project that was conducted to identify effective approaches for engaging coastal citizens, communities and the third sector with the UKCP09 projections. The research project was finalised in 2010 and focused on 12 coastal communities around England.

What was it used for?

The project is an example of stakeholder engagement with individuals and organisations that are not generally well informed on wider environmental matters, or on the impacts of climate change on their communities. The project also helped to identify how key messages from UKCP09 can be used to raise awareness at a local level to engage a specific target audience.

Which UKCP09 products were used?

Marine & coastal projections report

Climate change projections report

Maps & key findings

Approach and how UKCP09 was used

The research was divided into three phases:

  • baseline research and planning for the overall project including desk research to establish existing approaches to climate change communication and engagement;
  • delivery of 12 focus groups at locations around England considered to be at long term risk from climate change, discussing and gaining insights into current levels of knowledge and attitudes towards climate change and the UKCP09 projections;
  • evaluating feedback from the focus groups and all other project research to provide guidance and recommendations on effective methods of engagement with citizens and groups in at-risk communities.

The project used messages and maps as presented on UKCP09's Marine & coastal projections report and Maps & key findings pages. It also presented similar information in different ways to determine how different types of information were received and how the messages were interpreted and understood.

Difficulties & limitations

It was at times difficult to explain to some stakeholders how this research fitted in among a number of other coastal related projects and communication activities that were being undertaken around the country. Specifically, the team found it difficult to keep some consultees focused on UKCP09 and climate change projections in general.

Lessons learned

UKCP09 formed a crucial part of the evidence base in preparing communications messages for coastal communities. However, it was found that it could be difficult to convey messages and engage with some stakeholders or members of the public when using the UKCP09 wording verbatim. In engaging the public, the project found it helpful to tailor the messages in UKCP09 appropriately for intended audiences.

The UKCP09 scenarios do not provide outputs for possible changes in year-to-year climatic variability, such as altered frequencies of successive dry winters. The project team found that this information may have helped in discussions with consultees, and may be an area for future work.

How will the result be communicated?

The results are presented in a full project report published by Defra. The report details the research approach and methodology, trialling different approaches to stakeholder engagement and conveying messages about climate change to local communities and related stakeholders.

Find out more

  • Contact: Katy Huyerman, Defra, Flood Management, Area 2D, Ergon House, Horseferry Road, London. SW1P 2AL.
  • Contact: Steve Maslen, Director, Maslen Environmental part of the JBA Group, Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Saltaire, Shipley, West Yorkshire. BD18 3 LF.
  •   Download the full case study [304kb] [01/09/2014]
  • Download the full project report [3689 kb] [31/01/2011]