Why is it important at BU?

Climate adaptation means adjusting to the impacts of a changing climate. Even as we try to reduce our emissions as fast as we can through our Climate & Ecological Crisis Action Plan (pdf, 1.5mb), we are already feeling the impact of the climate crisis through increased droughts and flooding, irregular weather patterns and energy insecurity.

Over the coming decades, we will see warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers across the UK. On the south coast, we are projected to see the largest decrease in summer rainfall across the country, while all areas face risks from rising sea levels.

These events can impact nearly every area of BU, from course delivery and research projects to our supply chains and building operations. Therefore, as well as reducing our emissions rapidly, we need to prepare for and adapt to a changing climate.

What are we doing about climate adaptation?

In education: MSc Disaster Management

Our MSc Disaster Management course prepares students with advanced knowledge and skills to lead on disaster management. Informed by our Disaster Management Centre, they learn risk reduction, resilience strategies and develop major incident management systems that respond to and help recovery from a range of disasters. 

In research: BU Disaster Management Centre (DMC)

BU’s research also contributes to the management of climate risk internationally. Our DMC host a range of projects globally and are a leading centre of expertise for this work.

High water surrounds a metal shack Flooding in Sierra Leone

One notable project is Driving African Capacity Building in Disaster Management (AFRICAB), based in Sierra Leone.

The aim of the project was to meet the urgent needs of African disaster managers and stakeholders; to be able to detect and understand deficiencies in their disaster management systems that have the potential to lead to partial or full breakdowns in disaster management prior to and during disasters.

AFRICAB researchers co-authored a Freetown City Council Facilitators' Guide to Disaster Management and led training workshops to provide accessible guidance to District Disaster Management Committees, Community Disaster Management Committee, local councillors, community leaders, tribal chiefs and volunteers in the 360 districts and wards of Freetown that cover disaster response for over 1.2 million people.

Download the AFRICAB report (pdf, 9.1mb)

In practice: creation of sector guidance

In March 2021, Shona Nairn-Smith, BU's Head of Operations and Resilience, was awarded an honorary fellowship to The Alliance for Sustainability in Higher Education (EAUC) for her work on climate change adaptation and risk management. This work included the creation of the BU climate change risk register, as well as lead authorship, on the sector-wide guidance for ‘Adapting universities and colleges to a changing climate’. This was developed collaboratively between the EAUC and the Higher Education Business Continuity Network (HEBCoN). 

The comprehensive report (pdf, 10.1MB) provides guidance for other institutions in the sector to assess their readiness to effectively address climate adaptation, build their case for action, and develop a climate change risk register. 

We have ongoing relationships and work with EAUC through the Managing Climate Risk Working Group.