The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

Orkney Islands Council 2 – Embedded Researcher pitch

Interest in climate resilience

In May 2019, Orkney Islands Council (The Council) declared a Climate Emergency and has continued to work with the community and partners to  promote further understanding of the climate emergency and  identify and implement appropriate actions that we can take to contribute to achieving Net Zero. We have supported highly innovative green hydrogen projects, on land and sea, with the community, developed a carbon management programme for carbon reduction across the Council estate and has implemented its first grey infrastructure Sea Wall project in Kirkwall to limit damage caused by increasing tidal variance and extreme weather events.

We aim to retain momentum on decarbonisation projects and consider appropriate future routes to expand on climate adaptation strategies. Goods and services provided by the local authority to community are, and will continue, to be impacted by climate change. We seek to develop a broader, formal, understanding of the key focus areas for climate resilience and the Just Transition. Including:

  • Risks: flooding, traditional industries, tolerance levels for change
  • Opportunities: tourism, skills transitioning, targets, choices
  • Impact of spatial variance: coastal, regional, planning, scenario planning
  • Achieving Net Zero: embedment of climate change considerations in decision making, attracting investment opportunities, sustainable procurement
  • Leadership, Equality & Justice, Community Participation

Motivation for being involved in the scheme

At present the Council has a single Climate Change Project Officer and while there are a number of streams of useful data,  there is currently very limited resource to analyse these streams and evaluate a carbon currency to develop a framework for decision making. Timescales to appropriately respond to climate change are narrow and the remit to develop appropriate responses is expansive.

A researcher would provide significant support the development of Orkney’s localised response to climate resilience, supporting the developing a regional climate adaptation plan, establish the basis of a Net Zero road map and help ensure the implementation of proposed on-going actions. Development of decision-making tools, based on robust local data analysis, will support much needed climate communication in the decision-making process, both internal and  especially, external, to the local authority, ensuring a community and strong scientific-based information approach, fit for the unique Orkney islands setting and climate vulnerability.

Ideas for research topics or knowledge brokering activities

The future of remote rural communities in the face of Climate change is different from its urban counterparts. Orkney has a vast coastline (>1,024km) and small aging populations (22,100 people) inhabiting dispersed settlements in around 18 of our islands. As Orcadians we rely on carbon dense transport links to deliver food, energy and medical supplies. As consumers of services, like energy, transport and connectivity, we pay a premium and have a limited access to the market which leads to market failure.

It would be interesting to look at pathways to Net Zero and Identify key routes to decarbonisation backed up by data analysis. In particular the development of an assessment tool, potentially using carbon as a currency, to assess decision based around the impact on carbon reduction, initially within the local authority.

Data Analyst/Scenario Planner:

  • Undertake a ‘data audit/baselining’ to inform planning and actions across priority climate resilience themes e.g. coastal change, flooding, land use, infrastructure etc.
  • Analyse and communicate data for government, business and community audiences.
  • Review cli mate resilience related plans and strategies to better understand data requirements for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of objectives, policies and projects e.g. the Council Plan, Orkney Local Development Plan, Orkney Islands Regional Marine Plan, the future Shoreline Management, the Orkney Sustainable Energy Strategy.
  • Develop decision support tools to inform planning, actions and projects for climate adaption and resilience.
  • Establishing a data informed monitoring and evaluation framework, including targets and indicators, to enable the effectiveness of policies and actions to be measured.
  • Apply data to support scenario planning for climate adaption and resilience e.g. for flooding, infrastructure investment, services etc
  • Work alongside a community and stakeholder engagement researcher/practitioner to provide data to inform engagement.

Get in touch with Orkney Islands Council

Researchers who would like to discuss this Embedded Researcher pitch with Orkney Islands Council should contact Adele Lidderdale on

Back to the Embedded Researchers funding page