Telling people about science and policy is difficult, particularly climate change. So we thought, let’s show them instead.

Meeting the challenge of climate change adaptation will mean changing both the physical environment around us and the way we work. Capturing these changes and embracing this collaborative ethos was at the heart of creating our innovative visual guide to Scotland’s adaptation future: Climate Ready Places.

Rather than simply tell people about Scotland’s climate future, we decided to show them. To do this, we hosted a multi-disciplinary design workshop, bringing together experts from Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland, and the Forestry Commission with designers from Architecture & Design Scotland and professional live-illustrators Scriberia. Working together, participants created attractive, accessible visualisations of six typical Scottish ‘places’ (City; Suburbs; Coast; Industrial; Lowlands; and Uplands). Our adaptation experts then poured over these six places and suggested over eighty adaptation interventions, all underpinned by robust scientific data. Our artists used these interventions to transform the original six places into new Climate Ready versions, giving us two sets of images: showing Scotland as it is now, and as it could be.

By bringing together experts from these differing sectors through the Adaptation Scotland programme, we created both a visually engaging resource to introduce adaptation to a lay audience and a gateway to more detailed information for policy-makers. Explore Climate Ready Places for yourself here.

So far Climate Ready Places has been used to inform the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Strategic Development Planning Authority’s Clydeplan Main Issues Report 2015; has been incorporated into Scottish Natural Heritage’s e-learning system (with over 100 members of staff completing the module since May 2016) and their annual climate change duties report for 2014/15; has been used by Education Scotland to introduce young people to adaptation; and has been used by Planning Aid Scotland in training their network of 400 planning experts and in outreach activities with schools and communities. Our project partners continue to come up with new ways to use this valuable resource.

Breaking down sectoral barriers challenging, but it is also often the best way to solve complex problems. Collaborating with professional artists helped our adaptation experts put their words into pictures and create a powerful awareness raising tool. It is an approach which could work equally well for other policy areas. If you have an idea for a similar tool, let us know.