The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

Competencies of climate service and adaptation professionals

This project builds on the work of the SPF UK Climate Resilience Programme, led by Climate Sense and JBA, in establishing a Climate Services standard. It focuses on identifying the knowledge, skills, and behaviours necessary to anticipate and respond to the impacts of climate change.


When delivering climate services or taking adaptation action, complex and varied data sources are brought together, analysed and processed into advice, products and services. While some elements might be prescribed by regulators this process mostly relies on professional judgement. Given the increasing significance and urgency of adaptation, still a relatively new field for many, there is increasing interest in understanding the skills and experience needed and ways to ensure that we have the workforce, with the right experience to deliver it.


This study began with desk research to examine existing work, concerning the competencies, attributes, and professionalisation of individuals engaged in climate change adaptation. This included reviewing the clauses referring to a ‘competent person’ in the ISO Standard on Adaptation to Climate Change- Principles, requirements and guidelines (ISO 14090-2019) and other competency frameworks for adaptation professionals, notably that developed by Resilience by Design, Royal Roads University Canada.

Following this, brief interviews across diverse organisations, including academia, government, and NGOs, operating at various scales and career stages were conducted. Participants’ opinions on the top three attributes or qualities of a climate change adaptation professional were identified. Also identified were insights into the essential attributes, qualities, and abilities necessary for effective practice of delivering climate services and implementing climate change adaptation.

In the final phase, a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with adaptation professionals and professional bodies. This phase aimed to provide a more in-depth exploration of how career development paths for climate services and climate change adaptation could be strategically crafted to promote due diligence and quality control within the field.

Key Learning Outputs

The research identified several learning outcomes that included:

    • What is a climate service professional?
    • What are the competencies needed by adaptation and climate service professionals?
    • How do you support the development of adaptation professionals?
    • How do you develop a new professional system for adaptation?

Interested in this project?

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