UK environment and sustainability professionals can now access specific information to help them develop a thorough business case and secure senior management buy-in for addressing climate risks following the release of new guidance by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) and the Environment Agency.

As organisations across the economy increasingly face resource and supply chain issues, as well as the effects of severe weather, the release of this guidance aims to support environment and sustainability professionals to provide leadership around managing risks from a changing climate in a way that addresses key business concerns.

Produced by IEMA with support from the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Team, the Climate Change Adaptation: Building the Business Case guidance was developed as part of a Defra-funded project established to help businesses address the limitations, challenges, risks and opportunities presented by the changing climate. IEMA memberes were the first to find out about this guidance as a launch article appeared in the May issue of 'the environmentalist'.

The fourteen-page guidance document provides insightful learning points from practice (over 300 IEMA members contributed their experiences to shape the guidance) and useful recommendations. It directs environment and sustainability professionals through the framework, terminology and principles necessary to build successful business cases. Top tips offered by practitioners that have been published as part of the guidance include:

  • Understand your business – an essential starting point
  • Engage widely across your business – build awareness, seek interest and share the challenge and use business-relevant language
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel but do use existing decision-making opportunities
  • ‘Piggy back’ opportunities onto other projects and developments
  • Use recent and future weather impacts as an early opportunity for business response (can also help in building awareness for longer term climate change adaptation)
  • Additional to risk, consider opportunities and dependencies, including any competitive advantage from increased resilience to extreme weather and climate
  • Look for ‘early mover’ opportunities and do not under estimate the value of making a start e.g. through trial schemes or adaptation linked to wider initiatives

IEMA’s Nick Blyth, Policy and Practice Lead on climate change issues at IEMA who authored and co-ordinated the project says: Climate change adaptation is starting to feature across multiple business processes, from risk registers and organisational management systems, supply chains and procurement, through to sales, service delivery and even product design. Environment and sustainability professionals are instrumental, helping organisations to understand and address varied climate change risks and opportunities. Our guidance has been directly informed by practitioners and will be an essential guide to others as they develop approaches to build resilient and sustainable organisations.”

This collaborative project ultimately aims to empower environment and sustainability professionals to lead the way in future-proofing their organisations by putting forward suitable and successful business cases which achieve cross-organisational support.

Kylie Russell, Business Resilience Lead for the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready service said of the guidance project: “Many of the businesses we speak with highlight the importance of developing a robust business case for acting on climate risks. This guide is a valuable tool to help sustainability managers with this process and we were pleased to work with IEMA on its development. The impacts that severe weather has had in recent years underlines that addressing climate risks is a critical issue to securing resilience and long-term competiveness. Harnessing organisational support for action through a strong business case is a good place to start

The guidance document is available to all members as a free download from here.