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Develop your own coastal adaptation strategy by learning key methodologies and techniques.

The IMCORE project ran from 2008 to 2011 and was funded under the EU Interreg IVB programme.

VIDEO: The Couplet Node from Cork Harbour shrre their insights on the benefits of working together

 "If we were to undertake the scenario phase of the adaptation strategy process again, we would conduct it in a much more condensed and intensive way".                 Cork Harbour Case Study

Access or download overviews, tools, techniques and examples of visualisation tools, educational tools, legal and policy tools, future scenario techniques, etc

Practical tips for following the IMCORE approach to planning to adapt to coastal climate change 


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Why adapt? shows coastal Local Authorities a step by step methodology to develop their own adaptation strategy.

this methodology and a variety of tools have been tried and tested at our 9 case studies, see our examples and lessons.


  • No category
  • Do you need an adaptation strategy?

    Read more about adaptation for practitioners and 4 key aspects to consider before you start your adaptation process

    Most of us as practitioners understand what climate change is and given the amount of media coverage it receives most of us are also familiar with the idea of mitigation as a response to climate change. Adaptation as a response to climate change has not received the same level of media coverage and as such is not as familiar. What does adaptation mean? Do you need an adaptation strategy? What is the added value? Why do we need a co-ordinated approach?

  • Guidance

    Introduction to the five key aspects of an adaptation strategy

    Click on the icons to learn the essentials of each aspect:


    E-learning course: Learn how to develop your adaptation strategy

    elearningClick here to go to the course.

    Let us show you through the steps we took to develop our adaptation strategies.

    Learn the methodology and techniques you will need to develop your coastal adaptation strategy.

    • Stakeholder engagement

      Throughout the three steps of the IMCORE approach, aimed at developing local adaptation strategies, stakeholders were engaged within each of the case study areas.


      Different combinations of techniques, workshops and events were used in each area depending on individual needs and stakeholder relationships. For example, in Cork, the Harbour Forum and Focus Group were already in place with a committed group of interested stakeholders who already knew each other - whereas, in Lough Swilly, an expert group with a coastal adaptation focus was developed for the first time as part of the IMCORE project.


      Our guidelines for effective stakeholder engagement can be downloaded here.

      ready steady go

      READY - Why engage stakeholders?

      STEADY - A few tips before you start

      GO! - How to engage stakeholders?

    • Future scenarios

      Once the issues and drivers have been identified, the IMCORE approach uses the futures scenarios approach. Scenarios are special stories that portray plausible future which are designed to systematically explore, create and test possible and desirable future conditions.

      They can help us to:

      • organise and interpret our thinking about the future;
      • understand how to create the conditions in which our desired future can be achieved
      • generate long-term policies, strategies and plans, which bring desired and likely future circumstances in closer alignment


    • Adaptation strategy

      strategyOnce the issues have been identified and stakeholders have agreed to a preferred scenario, the next step is to develop an adaptation strategy.This allows you to understand what the desired future entails and to identify the actions required.
      You need to assess the "implementability" of actions and to ensure there is a comittment to mainstream and/or ratify them by one or various stakeholders.

      The IMCORE approach and therefore methodology was applied by most partners (See the Lough Swilly, North East England or Cork Harbour examples). Other IMCORE partners took different approaches for example, in the Gulf of Morbihan, a decision making tool was developed for policy makers whereas in Sefton the overall output was an adaptation study. In the Severn Estuary however, adaptation guidelines were developed and the East of England created a community adaptation action plan.

    • Institutional capacity

      To effectively coordinate an adaptation process, local or regional authorities need to:

      • Learn and capture knowledge and experience
      • Enhance problem solving
      • Balance power among interest groups

      This can be done as an organisation or as a partnership or network. In the 9 IMCORE case studies the approach was to establish expert couplets between authorities and research organisations.

      An expert couplet is defined as "an innovative model of partnership, whereby regulators, practitioners and research organisations co-operate and collaborate with each other to support capacity-building and policy development for coastal management".


    • Identifying the issues


      To plan for adaptation to climate change we need to understand local conditions and concerns.

      Within each IMCORE case study area, workshops along with other tools and techniques were used to identify the drivers and impacts of climate change. In the Severn Estuary the 7 questions technique was used with planning officers to help understand their key concerns and vision for the future visions. Conversely, in Sefton the focus was on completing a risk assessment. In Belgium thematic issues workshops focused on activities: flooding, fisheries and tourism as well as a general one were held.


  • 9 Case Studies and Adaptation Strategies

    map 9experiences_

    • Lough Swilly

      Our partners addressed coastal and climate issues through development of a strategy aimed at integration and co-ordination of management agencies

      map lought

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      The University of Ulster’s Centre for Coastal and Marine Research (CCMR) and Donegal County Council (DCC)

      Key climate change issues:

      Sea level rise and increases in sea temperature. Increased storminess may also have detrimental affects. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in Lough Swilly; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our institutional framework.

      What we did:

      • Followed the IMCORE approach to develop the Lough Swilly Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

      • The Lough Swilly Environmental and Activity Audit a first step towards Marine Spatial Planning

      • Lough Swilly: A Living Landscape. A semi academic publication

      • Proposals for a Marine Discovery Centre.

      The Lough Swilly coastal adaptation strategy

      Click here to download the Donegal adaptation strategy

      Our unique approach:

      • A strategic approach to the development of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy by involving a consultative group comprising local authority staff, elected members and representatives from state organisations with management responsibility.

      • The process was structured and focused, with a clear objective; this avoided the perception of "just another talking shop".

      What we achieved:

      To bring strategic management agencies together for what they have described a very useful and interesting exercise.

      A consensus that improved co-ordination of efforts by all management agencies is required.

      Improved awareness of climate and coastal change issues.

      What we learned:

      The future for adaptation in Lough Swilly is uncertain due to the current political climate, lack of statutory remit and policy funding. Climate Change will be part of the County Development Plan in Donegal but without a statutory responsibility for adaptation its prioritisation is difficult.

      Read the full summary text of the Lough Swilly case study

      Planning to adapt in Lough Swilly:

    • Aberdeen Beach

      "We made visualisation tools accessible to coastal practitioners to communicate about climate change"

      map aberdeen

       See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council

      Key climate change issues:

      Coastal erosion and flooding. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in Aberdeen Beach; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Issues identification workshop, scenario workshop, GIS training videos, adaptation strategy workshop, training session on PESTLE analysis, provided GIS support, training events with young people and communication activities.

      Our unique approach:

      The council and university work together on planning and implementing a waterfront regeneration project in a long-neglected area of Aberdeen.

      It was our priority to tackle the lack of education and the apathy of some segments of the local population by expanding the communities understanding of climate change.

      What we learned:

      A broader partnership would have been beneficial to improve impact and scope.

      City councils and coastal practitioners wre very interested in visualisation tools. Video training allows them to apply these methodologies in their working environment.

      Data availability is an important issue to be taken into account at the beginning of the process.

      Read the full summary of the Aberdeen case study

      Planning to adapt in Aberdeen beach


    • Cork Harbour

      "Working together we have helped the Harbour community develop the capacity to plan for a changing climate"

      map cork

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      Cork City Council and the Coastal and Marine Resource Centre (University College Cork), Ireland.

      Key climate change issues:

      The most obvious climate change impact on the sectors that routinely utilise the Harbour is flooding as this has historically had negative social and economic implications, especially for residents and business owners in vulnerable areas of the City Centre.. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in Cork Harbour; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      First climate change workshop, Issues workshop, Exploratory Scenaros workshop and development of Narratives, Backcasting workshop, development of an online visualization tool, various communication actions, Cork Harbour Open Day, etc.

      The Cork Harbour coastal adaptation strategy:

      Click here to download the Cork Harbour Adaptation Strategy actions table. The adaptation framework can also be consulted.

      Our unique approach:

      • Implementation of the Integrated Management Strategy for Cork Harbour through the Cork Harbour Management Focus Group.
      • Initiating the development and future implementation of an adaptive strategy for climate change in Cork Harbour.

      Click here to read the full summary of the Cork Harbour case study

      Planning to adapt in Cork Harbour:


    • Belgian Coast

      "We developed a better understanding of how the legal and policy context in Belgium influences adaptation"


      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      The Maritime Institute (University of Gent) and the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (Flemish government).

      Key climate change issues:

      Protection from coastal flooding. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in the Belgian Coast; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      We organised workshops on the issues, drivers and scenarios. The Maritime Institute did research on the legal and policy aspects of adaptive strategies, while the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services made a Belgian Coastal Codex available through a web based application and freely accessible for everyone.

      The Belgian coastal adaptation strategy:

      Click here to download the Belgian Coastal Adaptation Strategy

      Our unique approach:

      • At a second workshop for developing future scenarios we assessed the ecological, social and economic impacts on three important Belgian coastal sectors, namely fisheries, tourism and coastal defence.
      • Adaptation measures were assessed for efficiency and subject to a legal and policy evaluation.
      • We coordinated our work in the context of the development of the Integrated Master Plan for Coastal Safety in parallell with a Decree on Coastal Safety

      What we learned:

      Communicating the purpose of workshops and good promotion and facilitation is essential. Giving the invited stakeholders alternatives to provide input to the process if they cannot attend (ie: questionnaires).

      We realised that adaptation initiatives should be established at a local level, starting from sectoral adaptation plans combined in regional adaptation plans. More communication between sectors is required for successful implementation.


      Read the full summary of the Belgian Coast case study

      Planning to adapt in the Belgian Coast:


    • East of England

      " We tried to understand better the conflicts between economic growth and community needs, against adaptive responses to climate change impacts"


      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      CoastNet worked with the partners of the East of England Coastal Initiative and with the coastal communities of Jaywick

      Key climate change issues:

      Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in the East of England; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Read here about the activities carried out in the East of England

      The East of England coastal adaptation strategy:

      The lessons learned from the coastal initiative have been compiled into a draft summary document presented in powerpoint format. The partners have also compiled a draft action plan to guide the work of a wide range of institutions in relation to adaptation to climate change.

      Together these documents form a wide ranging adaptation strategy for the area of the East of England.

      Draft Summary Document draft-imcore-coastal-initiative-key-findings

      Draft Action Plan coastal-initiative-draft-action-planv1-02

      Our unique approach:

      The CoastNet team in Jaywick consciously chose NOT to follow a traditional approach of issues report, consultation, options appraisal etc. This is because this approach had lost credibility in the community because of the severe challenges in Jaywick leading to the view that 'nothing is ever done'. As a charity we felt we had more freedom to work in a different way. Thus many months were spent in basic engagement with community leaders and groups: listening, getting involved, supporting, building trust. This process has enabled the team to understand community priorities, to gain trust and to give a strong sense of direction to the adaptation strategy, (which we call a community action plan).

      Read the full summary of the East of England case study

      Planning to adapt in the East of England


    • Severn Estuary

      "We now have better informed stakeholders who are more engaged with the debate on future coastal issues, including climate change"

      map severn

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      The Expert Couplet involved Cardiff University and the Severn Estuary Partnership. Stakeholders included local planners and educators and school children were involved from the Welsh side of the estuary.

      Key climate change issues:

      Sea level rise and storm surges. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in the Severn Estuary; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Surveys, workshops, exploratory socio-economic scenarios, adaptation guidelines, simple summaries of climate change science and impacts, a baseline study of the Severn estuary environment, large scale events and education materials.

      The Severn Estuary coastal adaptation guidelines and actions:

      To download the guidelines click here. To download the actions click here

      Our unique approach:

      • Adaptation guidelines instead of an adaptation strategy: there was concern that all the different planning authorities around the Severn were taking varying approaches and using different climate change predictions
      • Special focus on planning and Local Authorities because of their particular concern about development and flood risk on the urban, low-lying and potentially vulnerable shores of the estuary
      • Awareness of the need to raise awareness of climate change in local school children, tomorrow's decision makers.

      What we learned:

      The Severn Estuary is large and complex and it takes considerable time and effort to develop outputs which are meaningful to the estuary community. We've also learnt the value of tapping into local knowledge and expertise. It was clear that our engagement with representative local authorities in addition to estuary-wide forums and networks enabled better 'ground truthing' of the final adaptation guidelines.


      Read the full introductory text to the Severn case study

      Planning to adapt in the Severn Estuary


    • Gulf of Morbihan

      "Our first steps towards adaptation have been to understand public perception, increase awareness and collaboration and provide a decision support tool for policy makers"

      map morbihan

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      The French ECN consists of SIAGM (the Gulf of Morbihan intercommunal spatial planning syndicate) who spearhead the Gulf of Morbihan Regional Nature Park project, and UBO (the University of Western Brittany) via UMR AMURE (the Research Unit/Centre for the law and economics of the sea).

      Key climate change issues:

      Sea level rise. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in the Gulf of Morbihan; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Identifying local climate change issues, detailing the state of scientific knowledgeinterviewing key people, analysing uses of spatial planning tools, developing scenarios, using visualization tools, strengthening adaptive capacities, dissemination to existing networks, public presentation of findings through various communication actions.

      The Gulf of Morbihan adaptation strategy

      For more details please click here to see the results of the scenario to strategy work

      Our unique approach:

      Choosing or developing one single scenario was not possible due to the complexity involved (the large number of stakeholders and the prevailing uncertainty about natural events and timely interactions).

      The interactive tree diagram, as opposed to paper documents, is the best way to make the information immediately accessible and in a format that is both user-friendly and better adapted to the managers' practices, expectations and needs.

      Read more about the overall process and approach of the Gulf of Morbihan Couplet here.

      What we learned:

      Climate change adaptation is not a central issue for the local area.

      French local stakeholders were not used to the scenario development method.

      Scientific knowledge on climate change is inextricably bound to the uncertainties that accompany it.

      Read the full summary of the Gulf of Morbihan case study

      Planning to adapt in the Gulf of Morbihan:


    • Sefton

      "For us, education proved to be a critical investment for climate change adaptation"

      map east

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      Sefton Council and Edgehill University

      Key climate change issues:

      Sea level rise, increasing storminess, changes in rainfall patterns, increasing temperatures and increasing humidity could have potentially significant implications. The knock on effects of these changes could see the Sefton Coast alter dramatically for both better and worse. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in the Sefton Coast; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Raised awareness through the Issue Identification workshop, further developed the local evidence base (ie dune hydrology study, habitat response to an eroding coast, etc.), adaptation workshops and risk assessment, educational activities and pack for primary schools, local forum focused on coastal change and an academic conference.

      The Sefton coastal adaptation strategy:

      Click here to download the strategy

      Our unique approach:

      To support the understanding of future scenarios we developed the evidence base and communicated it to partners before workshops.

      We have a strong committment from key partners on the coast to adapt. There is a need to embed the adaptation approach into existing policy.


      Read the full summary of lessons learned at the Sefton case study

      Planning to adapt in Sefton:


    • North East England

      "We found that connecting coastal communities, local authorities and public bodies was the key to successful adaptation planning"

      map northeast

      See a close up on Google Maps

      Who we are:

      Durham County Council (Durham Heritage Coast) and CTL Consult (formerly Envision)

      Key climate change issues:

      Sea level rise and increased frequency and / or intensity of extreme events leading to, for example, storm surges and overtopping.The North East Coast is vulnerable to coastal erosion, landward migration of sand dunes and overtopping. Click on this link to learn more about Climate Change in North East England; coastal activities that could be affected, drivers and impacts and our specific institutional framework.

      What we did:

      Issues identification workshop, a steering group was set up for the local initiative called ForeSea. They delineated the preferred scenario for the region and then worked backwards to foresee how the preferred future can be reached from the present day.

      Actions were produced with applicable timelines to achieve these activities. Such narratives have been used as a basis for the launch of the North East Coastal Network to forge better communication in the region

      The North East of England coastal adaptation strategy

      Click here to download the strategy

      Our unique approach:

      To build on existing work in the region, specifically on the Climate NE Adaptation Strategy.
      Our focus was on "coastifying" this strategy.
      Emphasis on long term thinking and promoting interaction and "togetherness" among climate change actors.

      Read the full summary of the North East England Case Study

      Planning to adapt in North East England


  • Toolbox
    • Visualization tools

      How to visualize future scenarios: overview, examples and resources


      Visualization: Approaches and techniques
      GIS video tutorials
      Online software for creating simulations
    • Case studies and lessons learned

      Key lessons and case studies to inspire your work


      Key lessons on Adaptation Strategies


      Coastal Risk case studies database

      Factsheets of IMCORE's 9 case studies
    • Institutional capacity building

      How collaboration between science and practice is most effective. Examples.


      Improve science-practice relationships 


      Example of science-practice forum

      New coastal partnership to deal with Adaptation
    • Stakeholder engagement

      Guidance, tips and examples of how to engage stakeholders


      TRUST! Guide to Stakeholder Engagement

      Video: Tips for effective stakeholder engagement


      UK National Voice for Coastal Communities
    • Education and communication

      Influencing different audiences. Examples and tips.


      Overview of educational activities on the coast

      Resource pack from Sefton

      Coastal Literacy for Adaptation
    • Policy and legal

      An overview, reports and tools on legal and policy aspects of Adaptation


      Overview of European and Int. Policy

      The All Party Parliamentary Group experience

      Adaptation and Strategic Environmental Assessment
    • Issue identification techniques, guidelines and examples

      Guidance and techniques to identify issues and understand risks


      E-learning module: Learn how to do it

      Guidelines to run an Issue Identification workshop
      File:Face-grin expert.svg
      Other techniques: consulting experts
    • Scenario building techniques, guidelines and examples

      Guidance and techniques to use  future scenarios to plan to adapt


      E-learning course: How to use scenarios

      Guidelines for future scenarios workshops

      7 Questions technique
    • Adaptation strategy techniques, guidelines and examples

      Guidance and techniques for Strategy or mainstreaming


      e-learning module: the Adaptation Strategy

      Guidelines: Adaptation Strategy

      Technique: PESTLE Analysis
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This learning portal brings together the results and lessons learned from the IMCORE project. This project was funded under the Interreg IVB programme from 2008 to 2011.

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