Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Adaptation Framework for the University of Edinburgh

Our vision: The University will become more climate-resilient, creating a sense of place on campuses and promoting well-being and biodiversity, as an integral part of the wider context of the city of Edinburgh.

Aerial photo of central area

What is adaptation?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) explains adaptation as:

Adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climate stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Climate change has impacts everywhere, including in Scotland, and for the University of Edinburgh.

Carbon reduction is critical for lessening future climate change, however, adapting to an already changing climate is also necessary. Climate change is happening now and will continue to happen despite mitigation efforts.

Adaptation strategies are needed to address the damage, disruption and possible opportunities already set in motion by historic carbon emissions.

Read the Adaptation Framework

Our priorities

Research, learning and teaching Living lab projects, mapping risks to research, teaching and learning for adaptation
Operations and landscaping Mapping and ranking climate change risks to the University, the inclusion of adaptation in estates sustainable design programme, testing of green infrastructure tools
Partnership working Strengthening and growing links in Edinburgh and beyond, exploring funding opportunities for collaborative projects
Communications as part of a climate ready community Raising awareness and engagement internally with staff and students and externally with the public

Key actions

  • Continued development of risk and resilience plans
  • Expansion of living lab projects in adaptation
  • Adaptation as part of estates development, in the new Estates Sustainable Design guidance
  • Use of the Natural Capital Standard for green infrastructure to conserve and expand green spaces on campuses for adaptation and biodiversity
  • Continued engagement with the city through Edinburgh Adapts
  • Internal and external communication plans for engagement


Adaptation Scotland warmly welcomes the University of Edinburgh’s Adaptation Framework. The Framework provides a solid foundation for increasing the resilience of the University and contributing to Edinburgh’s city wide action to adapt. The University is uniquely placed to influence the resilience of current and future generations through its teaching, research and practical action. The Framework demonstrates a genuine commitment to adaptation leadership and action. This is illustrated by the comprehensive set of actions included in the framework and the defined timescales and commitment to delivery.

Anna BeswickAdaptation Scotland Programme Manager


Green infrastructure mapping

Students relax in the gardens of George Square in the Central Campus area
'How Green is Your Campus?' brings together a key non-governmental organisation in the city, Scottish Wildlife Trust, EDINA, the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability and students to develop a unique application.

Hudson Beare Lecture Theatre project

Hudson Beare lecture theatre
The University of Edinburgh Estates Department and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) are undertaking a feasibility study to prepare the ground for a project to adapt the Grade B listed Hudson Beare Lecture Theatre through several refurbishment actions.

Living lab projects exploring adaptation

Bristo square living lab project students and tutors at exhibition
Several living lab student projects have already been undertaken on climate change adaptation topic.