What is adaptation ?

Adaptation is a process that seeks to lower the risks or maximise the opportunities from climatic change.  It includes physical actions, behaviour changes, and new policies.  Adaptation can take place on a range of levels, from you as an individual to your community. Examples include altering our homes so they stay cool during the hotter summers or encouraging businesses to develop continuity plans for extreme weather.

The UK Climate Impact Programme provides some examples of adaptation below.

Adaptation responses and decisions can be categorised as:

  • Building adaptive capacity – creating the information (research, data collecting and monitoring, awareness raising), supportive social structures (organisational development, working in partnership, institutions), and supportive governance (regulations, legislations, and guidance) that are needed as a foundation for delivering adaptation actions; or
  • Delivering adaptation actions – actions that help to reduce vulnerability to climate risks, or to exploit opportunities.

Measures for building adaptive capacity are fundamental to delivering responsive adaptation actions. Many organisations have begun to build adaptive capacity through understanding the nature of issues and risks, identifying and engaging the community/players, and assessing the situation (objectives, sensitivities and thresholds) and possible adaptive responses.

Establishing the purpose and social, economic, technological and environmental feasibility of potential adaptation measures are essential components of Delivering adaptation actions. Adaptation is usually required due to inadequacies in coping with existing or projected climate risks (including variabilities and extremes) or a desire to exploit beneficial climatic opportunities. These actions and strategies are normally targeted at:

  • Accepting the impacts and bearing losses
  • Preventing effects or reducing risks
  • Offsetting losses by spreading or sharing risks or losses
  • Exploiting positive opportunities

More information can be found at the UK Climate Impact Programme’s adaptation site:


What is already happening in Kent?

Kent has already done a great deal to improve the environmental performance of the county.  But we still faces challenges from the pressure of new development, from air and water quality issues, energy consumption and the effects of climate change – now and in the future.

The Kent Environment Strategy is a three year strategy setting out how partners across Kent will achieve a high quality environment that is low carbon, resilient to climate change and that has a thriving green economy at its heart.

The Kent Adaptation Plan sets out key actions that the County Council and partners will be taken between 2011 and 2013 to help adapt to climate change.


The diagrams below show the type of adaptation measures that could be used to adapt to the changing climate in or around 2030.

2030s Domestic House


2030s Coastal area


2030s Countryside


Source:  DEFRA Future Worlds