30 July, 2021
Last week saw blistering heat followed by flooding in London streets and tube stations, and 2020 was not only one of the top 10 wettest years on record, it was also among the sunniest and warmest. Tomorrow’s forecast: increasingly extreme weather.
Which is why Aviva’s Building Future Communities report is so timely. It deals with the impacts of climate change on the natural environment, built environment and social environment, both now and in the future. The report calls on stakeholders, from government to individuals, to take action to better prepare our communities for a changing climate, making seven key recommendations.
Some of the report’s recommendations are bold but expected, such as a call for stronger planning regulation to prevent new buildings being built on flood plains without sufficient protection. One remarkable finding of the report is that since 2009 over 70,000 UK properties have been built in flood zones, with the additional risk and insurance cost going straight to the new home owners. Other recommendations are more radical. Aviva is advocating a serious exploration of ‘nature-based solutions’ for flood resilience, building on the company’s partnership and pilot programme with WWF. The report also speaks to the human aspect of driving change: we vastly underestimate our personal risk from climate impacts, but behavioural nudges could provide a solution.
Going beyond the usual focus on flooding, Building Future Communities explores the impact of extreme heat, for example on building subsidence. The report also considers the climate impact on SMEs, radical new architectural ideas, and the fact that climate change impacts are disproportionately being felt by the most vulnerable.
Alongside such stark warnings, however, there is also hope. Innovative solutions, such as those recommended by Aviva, can help ensure our communities are resilient in a changing climate.
By Marie Guérinet