Scottish Natural Heritage: Creating an organisational culture that promotes climate ready solutions to manage Scotland’s nature and landscapes

Case Study On-going
Date added: 28/01/2019

Mary Christie is the Policy & Advice Manager and Natural Capital Team Manager at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). She has worked with the Natural Resource Management team to build understanding of climate change adaptation throughout the organisation.

Creating an organisational culture that promotes climate ready solutions to manage Scotland’s nature and landscapes:

‘In 2012, we developed Adaptation Principles to guide us in helping nature adapt to climate change. Embedding these principles into our projects encourages the development of climate adaptive actions, which are critical to improve ecosystem health and resilience to current and future climate change (OC3A).

To further mainstream the adaptation principles and help staff understand the impact of climate change on Scotland’s environment, we developed an internal e-learning module for new and existing staff. This is supported by the Climate Champions Network, where one person in each work unit is tasked with updating and discussing climate change with colleagues. Climate Champions report back to the Climate Change Unit on work undertaken in their units, creating a two way conversation between the team and the rest of the organisation (OC3B).

One of the challenges we face is that our staff already have high workloads, and limited time to commit to training or more work around climate change. Climate Champions help share the message that action on adaptation to climate change is not extra work, but a fundamental part of doing our job well. This message is supported by leadership at SNH, who have embedded climate change across all aspects of the new Corporate Plan for 2018-2022. While the previous corporate plan identified climate change as a key theme, the new plan represents a major shift. We no longer have a climate specific theme or target. Instead, climate change is implicit and expected to be considered in every aspect of our work (OC4A).

Climate change risk has also been included in risk management and business planning. Reporting is undertaken on a quarterly basis to assess progress on climate related risks, and managers are then required to review and take further action if necessary as part of their business planning (OC3C).

Changing our culture and attitude to climate change adaptation at the organisational level is an ongoing and iterative task that is far from complete, but we are working across all levels and sectors to embed climate change and adaptation into the way SNH operates.’