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According to Climate Ready Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019-2024, “climate change adaptation is about responding to the changes that we have seen in our climate over the last few decades, and preparing for the challenges that we will face as our climate continues to change”.

Even with accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), adapting to the impacts of climate change will be necessary. This is because historic emissions have already changed our climate and will continue to do so in the decades to come.

Climate trends and projections for Scotland tell us we can expect;

  • Warmer, wetter winters
  • Hotter, drier summers
  • More intense, heavy rainfall events throughout the year
  • More variable weather and extreme events
  • Sea level rise

The public sector has a crucial role to play in enabling Scotland to adapt to climate change. Taking a strong, collaborative and proactive approach will ensure that vital public assets, infrastructure and services are fit for current and future generations and able to deliver positive outcomes across society.

Adaptation Scotland provides advice and support to help Scotland be prepared and resilient to the effects of climate change. Adaptation Scotland is a programme funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the sustainability charity Sniffer.

Public Sector Requirements

The public sector is subject to legislative climate change duties that require action to adapt and report progress. It also has a unique leadership role in driving climate action and influencing change across society.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act places duties on all public bodies to tackle climate change through exercising their various functions. Part 4 of the Act states, [a] “public body must, in exercising its functions, act: in the way best calculated to help deliver any [Scottish adaptation programme].

Read the latest Scottish adaptation programme: Climate Ready Scotland: climate change adaptation programme 2019-2024

Tools, Guidance and Support

Scotland Adapts: A Capability Framework for a Climate Ready Public Sector

Developed by Adaptation Scotland, in collaboration with adaptation leaders across public sector, the Adaptation Capability Framework identifies four capabilities needed for an organisation’s adaptation journey. The framework supports you to identify and learn about tasks that are right for your organisation and to plan and implement action accordingly.

A range of guidance resources are available to help you get the most from the framework. This includes a comprehensive Handbook, as well as a Starter Pack for organisations at the beginning of their adaptation journey.

An interactive Benchmarking tool is available for organisations to track their progress and identify priority tasks ahead. The Benchmarking tool used widely by public sector organisations, with many opting to complete on an annual basis, alongside Public Bodies Duties Reporting. Read more about alignment between PDBR requirements and the Adaptation Capability Framework.

Benchmarking Working Group

The Adaptation Scotland Benchmarking Working Group is comprised of public bodies who work together to benchmark their progress and identify and share learnings on climate change adaptation. The Benchmarking Working Group:

  • Supports organisations to use the Adaptation Capability Framework and Benchmarking Tool
  • Facilitates peer to peer support
  • Provides training and skills development

Case Studies

A range of case studies can be viewed on the Adaptation Scotland website, including examples of public sector organisations progressing adaptation:

  • Insights from Forestry Land Scotland This case study provides an overview of Forestry and Land Scotland’s adaptation story so far and is followed by in-depth insights on the experience of using the Adaptation Capability Framework.
  • Insights from Aberdeenshire Council This case study introduces how Aberdeenshire Council have used the Adaptation Capability Framework in practice and illustrates the benefits of developing the Working Together capability.

The Climate Ready Places resource provides visual examples of adaptation actions across different Scottish landscapes.

SSN workshop sessions on adaptation

  • View the SSN Conference 2024 sessions on adaptation with Richard Miller, Head of Adaptation and Deputy Director, Climate Change Committee and the SSN Sub-Committee.
  • View the 2023 SSN Conference breakout session Integrating Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainability which explored the key climate hazards facing Scottish public bodies, the integrative adaptation and mitigation approaches, which public bodies can adopt to become more resilient and an overview of Scotland's Third Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP3).
  • View the SSN Conference 2022 breakout session on adaptation from 2022 covering some of the key climate hazards facing Scotland and an overview of the adaptation section of the PBCCD report.

Enquiry Service

You can contact Adaptation Scotland using their Enquiry Service, or by emailing

You can also sign up to the Adaptation Scotland newsletter, for regular news and updates.


Becoming Climate Resilient is a 1-day course delivered by Sniffer, focusing on climate adaptation, climate risk, and opportunities to build resilience and a fairer, flourishing future.