Project Update: CLIMB (Challenging Links and Integrating Multiple Benefits)

The CLIMB project is making strides in its quest to influence a different way of working within the Environment Agency.

Whether it’s a large scale flood protection scheme or a smaller environmental project, work is traditionally planned and delivered by a specific team.  This approach is common in many organisations, and generally results with a specific outcome being met.  However, if teams and projects were to integrate with each other early in the planning stages, opportunities for projects to deliver additional environment benefits could be found.

This is what CLIMB is about!

In busy, target and KPI driven settings, particularly where teams have individual budgets, there often isn’t the capacity for integrated working.  To try and tackle this head on, Natural Course has provided the CLIMB project with two Project Officers to find ways to plug this gap.

Their role is to encourage and enable teams to find those opportunities where projects can be integrated together at the conception stage, resulting in the delivery of multiple environmental outcomes and additional benefits – or more bang for your buck as the saying goes.

By demonstrating the benefits of integrated planning and delivery, the CLIMB team are helping to facilitate an organisational culture change, where this process becomes the norm.

Having recently completed their end of year report, we thought this would be an opportune time to share with you their progress.


How to bring about change?

When working on any behaviour change project, you need to identify what behaviour needs changing, know which people you need to target, understand what is preventing them from changing in the first place, then find ways of removing those barriers to enable the change to become the norm.

The CLIMB team set up a ‘Project Lifecycle Group’, made up of Project Mangers, Senior Users and Evidence Leads from across the Environment Agency. They were tasked with identifying potential barriers to integrated project delivery and identifying who are the key people to target at both local, national and Defra levels.

The CLIMB ‘Ways of Working’ meetings and a Project Board have been created as places where projects are scrutinised and opportunities for integration are discussed.

Teams send representatives to the ‘Ways of Working’ meetings where ideas are discussed, and mapping tools are used to gain a better understanding of where those integrated opportunities are possible.

With the foundations firmly in place, CLIMB is now trying to influence at all levels.

One particular success has been their input into the Environment Agency’s National Business Case Templates, which are guidance documents used to deliver projects across the country.

The team have also discussed CLIMB and its principles with Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency and Tamara Finklestein, Defra Permanent Secretary.

The progress made by CLIMB has been recognised by the ‘Partnerships and Strategic Overview’ Community of Practice, where at a recent workshop, they were awarded first prize in the Area Spotlight workshop.


So, a busy and successful first year for CLIMB, but the work doesn’t stop there.  As the project progresses, they are looking to build on what they have learned and create an ambitious progress programme for year two.

We will look forward to updating you with updates of their milestones and achievements as the year goes on