Our region – low lying, with a long coastline and low rainfall – is particularly susceptible to climate change. Water resources are already scarce, and rising temperatures will reduce them further, with the threat of more frequent droughts. Yet at the same time, rising sea levels and more intense rainfall will also lead to more flooding.
These challenges would be significant even with a static population, but our region is one of the fastest growing outside London, with 200,000 new homes expected to be built by 2025 (without factoring in the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Arc) and population growth of up to a million people likely by 2040.
With growth most likely in the areas where supply is most stretched, the risk of flooding is greatest, and the environment most under pressure, the need to adapt to new climate realities is acute.
Our purpose as an organisation is to bring environmental and social prosperity to the region we serve through our commitment to love every drop. To fulfil our purpose we need to respond to the challenges described in our Strategic Direction Statement, one of which is climate change.
In our Strategic Direction Statement, we set four long-term ambitions to help guide our planning - all of which relate to climate change. We have been taking action to manage our key risks from climate change since the 1990s. Despite our long-term efforts to embed climate change into everything we do, we recognise that there is much more to do to make the East of England resilient to the impact of drought and flooding.
We report on our progress and plans for adapting to climate change on a five-yearly cycle. Our previous Adaptation Reports (published in 2011 and 2015) describe the progress we have made.
Our latest Adaptation Report, published in December 2020, is available for download below in both full and summary versions. It describes how we are embedding adaptation across our business and will contribute to government understanding of our level of preparedness to climate change.
The final report has been submitted to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a formal reporting process. This process, known as the Adaptation Reporting Power, sees key organisations across the UK invited to share their plans and actions with government.
We published a draft of the report for public consultation in March 2020. We were grateful to receive feedback from a range of individuals and stakeholders, which has helped to shape the final report. Their responses are published in full and available for download below.