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Mid-Counties Co-op: Planning Adaptation

Submitted by Ben Smith 7th November 2011 14:26


The Midcounties Cooperative is one of the largest independent cooperatives in the UK. They have a number of diverse businesses: Food Stores (including some Post Offices); Travel; Pharmacy; Funeral care and Child care. It is an ambitious business which sticks closely to its values and principles to ensure that everything it does profits its members and the wider community.

Like other retailers, Midcounties Cooperative is sensitive to weather variability. It expects this pattern to persist in the future, and is motivated to reduce its sensitivity by adapting to future change. Because of the size and complexity of the business they recognised the need to assess the level of the climate risk before planning to adapt. Midcounties Cooperative worked with UKCIP to plan how to adapt to climate change using the methodology outlined in the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard.

Key messages and learning outcomes

Midcounties is a complex business with multiple interests and business areas. Many of these business areas might be exposed to climate change impacts abroad as well as in the UK.

    Priority climate risks include: more frequent extreme weather causing members’ events to be cancelled, damage to local communities, staff and members’ personal property and changing seasonality of precipitation making sourcing of local goods difficult.

      Cooperative values and principles have an important bearing on the organisation’s attitude to climate risks and its approach to climate adaptation.

        Adaptation outcomes

        Next steps are being considered:

        A more formal process of identifying adaptation options. This could be facilitated by UKCIP.

          Identify individuals in the business that would be best placed to progressing responses to the climate risks identified in this assessment.

            Use outputs from the work to date to secure any additional resources from Senior Management that may be required to implement climate change adaptations.

              Enabling factors

              Individuals were given information and encouraged to carry out work in between meetings. This approach allowed more colleagues to engage in the process, and yielded rich information.

              Participants engaged enthusiastically with the process.

              Appointment of an intern to the lead team increased the capacity of the lead team which had allowed work to progress again.


                Delays were caused by competing work commitments and priorities (including the relocation and merging of two key offices).

                  Challenges relating to the risk assessment process - deciding whether or not the rating for a particular risk should assume that some adaptation or not to the risk would occur presented a challenge. It was agreed that incremental adaptation to climate risks should be assumed, but that all assumptions should be carefully recorded in the risk matrix so that the logic behind the risk rating would be transparent, and that the ratings could be re-visited in future.


                    Mike Pickering: [email protected]