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Aerial view of Corrib River and Galway city

Adaptation plan will increase resilience of Irish water sector

In Ireland the impacts of climate change are already being felt and are expected to continue and intensify for decades to come.

The team members have distinguished themselves, and produced a very strong body of work which will inform Ireland’s climate change adaptation actions in the coming years

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

We helped develop an adaptation plan that will increase the resilience of the country’s water sector, safeguarding the long-term provision of sustainable water and wastewater services.

Opportunity

As a result of climate change, Ireland is experiencing more extreme weather events, a rise in sea level and appreciable changes in average temperature and precipitation patterns.

In response, the Irish government published its first statutory National Adaptation Framework in 2018, which sets out the role of key sectors in developing climate change adaptation plans to increase Ireland’s climate resilience.

Working closely with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and stakeholders, we prepared the sectoral adaptation plan for the water quality and water services infrastructure sectors.

Solution

By combining our global experience of adaptation planning with the Irish government’s own guidelines, we developed the adaptation plan using a stage-by-stage or ‘stepwise’ method.

First, we formed a team, including representatives from different government departments and agencies, utilities, academia and local government, to harness the collective expertise of all stakeholders and ensure a collaborative approach.

Through stakeholder interviews and an extensive review of the climate science, impacts on the sector that could result in unacceptable socio-economic and ecosystem disruption were identified.

Then we carried out a detailed assessment and schematisation of adaptation measures and the potential benefits they could deliver to identify priority actions.

These measures were linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, aligning the adaptation plan with international efforts to tackle climate change.

Outcome

This project marks an important first step in climate change adaptation planning in Ireland’s water industry. It has bought together multiple sectors to produce a strong, practical set of priority actions and adaptive measures as well as highlighting opportunities for collaboration.

By taking a logical and formulaic approach, the plan sets a benchmark against which future plans can be measured. Following six weeks of public consultation, it was approved by the Irish government and is now guiding the water sector to take actions that will benefit society and the environment.

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