The Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation Taskforce today unveiled a joint vision for future environmental and social prosperity for the Fens with the release of a ground-breaking shared manifesto and a commitment to join the UN Race to Resilience.
The Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation initiative is a collaboration between sponsor bodies Anglian Water, Water Resources East, the Environment Agency and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority along with more than 40 regional partners. The Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation initiative, the centrepiece of a major international event in the Blue Zone at COP26, aims to align multiple agencies and sectors to manage water resources in a better and more joined up way. This can both ensure the Fens can adapt successfully to the consequences of climate change, support the Government’s net zero carbon goals, and unlock a wealth of new opportunities for the area.
Launched at the COP26 event, the Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation Manifesto sets out the bold ambitions of the Taskforce and is the result of extensive mapping and visioning workshops.
The Manifesto sets out the risks, opportunities and shared commitments of the partners. These aim to bring renewed environmental, social and economic prosperity to a region which faces unique challenges in the face of a warming climate due to its low-lying topography that is prone to the twin threats of drought and flooding. It also outlines 10 shared outcomes that the partners are committed to integrate into their own future plans by 2023:
· An integrated water management solution as the collective vision
· Adaptation and resilience to drought and flooding
· Investment bringing much-needed certainty for the future
· The pace of change required for delivery of major infrastructure
· A multi-sector roadmap and convergence of strategies
· Alignment to the government’s growth vision for the OXCAM arc
· Shared international learning and experience
· Levelling up this important region: enhancing quality of life
· Alignment to regional mitigation actions
Speaking at the event, Emma Howard Boyd, Chair, Environment Agency, and UN Global Ambassador for Race to Zero and Race to Resilience, said:
“The communities and businesses that make the Fens their home have a lot to share with, and learn from, people in the world’s low-lying landscapes. As the climate emergency accelerates in the global north as well as the south, this mutual learning and partnership becomes even more important. We are locked into sea level rise, so we need to adapt at pace, at scale and in partnership.
“I hope the Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation Manifesto will provide an example and an inspiration for partnerships between lowland communities globally. So that everyone around the world can Race to Resilience together.”
The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for the Cabinet Office and MP for North East Cambridgeshire, who spoke at Friday’s event, said:
"I welcome the innovative work Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation Taskforce partners are leading to keep pace with a changing climate and growing population. Collectively we need to provide flood resilience and secure future water supplies with an approach that moves past simply responding to the latest weather incidents.
“Action now is critical to the UK’s climate resilience, just as it is to countless other regions and communities around the world. We have an opportunity in the Fens to develop climate solutions which we can roll out more widely, not just across the UK, but from which the global community can also benefit."
Anglian Water Chief Executive Peter Simpson, said:
“This manifesto, and our landmark event at COP26, is just the starting point. We have set the ambition and now the detailed work will take place to bring our shared vision to life and formalise the initiative’s application to the UN Race to Resilience.
“Our commitment to shared international learning is key. We have been privileged to join forces at our event with the Living Deltas Research Hub, and to continue our longstanding partnership with the Dutch Government. Working with and learning from them in the spirit of global north and south collaboration builds on a key theme discussed throughout COP.
“We’re also looking for further insights and contributors to join our initiative. Collaboration, not just nationally but globally, is absolutely vital if we are to make the most meaningful impact on climate change now and into the future.”
Dr Robin Price, Managing Director of Water Resources East (WRE), said:
“Water Resources East is excited to be right at the heart of the Future Fens Integrated Adaptation partnership. Our vision is for Eastern England to have sufficient water resources to support a flourishing economy, a thriving environment and the needs of its population, and for the region to be seen as an international exemplar for collaborative integrated water resource management.
“We are delivering our ambitious vision through planning, research and partnership development with over 180 organisations. The Fens are a truly special place, and we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver our vision and achieve transformational change in the way that water is managed at landscape scale through collaboration and innovative thinking.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, said:
“Fantastic progress is being made by the Future Fens: Integrated Adaptation initative to combat flood management and defend water resources. I am very grateful for Anglian Water and its partners' commitment to promoting a climate resilient environment and facilitating biodiversity improvements, sustainable housing growth and job creation for people in the region.
“Half of the UK's most fertile land for agriculture is in the Fens and it is increasingly threatened by flooding from the sea. Therefore, this water management approach has the potential to benefit not only the Fens but the UK as a whole – and indeed to provide an international blueprint for action. The future of the Fens relies on big ambitions and even bigger actions.”