Integrated urban water management

Developing solutions that enable cities to withstand the threats of rising sea levels and extreme weather events

Cities around the world increasingly face pressure from both growing populations and climate change. In addition to dealing with the effects of urbanisation and increased population density, cities also need to develop solutions that enable them to withstand the threats of rising sea levels and extreme weather events. An integrated approach to urbanisation and climate change can ensure cost efficiency and synergies in terms of greater value from urban development investments. Through public-private collaboration and long-term holistic planning, many Danish cities have achieved this and at the same time gained greater public support and more liveable cities.

We invite you to explore solutions related to integrated urban water management in more depth below, find potential partners, catch up on the latest related news and discover real-life case examples of how flood integrated urban water management can help solve your environmental challenges.

Connect with us: Tanya Gottlieb Jacobsen, Deputy Director, +45 2249 6514, [email protected]


Urban water systems – for drinking water provision, wastewater collection and treatment, and stormwater management – are key to human health and environmental protection in cities around the globe. They are challenged by urbanisation, by decades of maintenance and by an increased frequency of floods and droughts due to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.

Just a decade ago, most cities saw water as something to hide and remove in sewers. Today, the harbor water in Copenhagen is clean enough to swim in and the area around the Harbour Bath has flourished. This has been achieved through an integrated approach to urban water management, combining a broad range of environmental, economic and social strategies. Although initially more complex, it is ultimately more cost-efficient from an overall societal perspective.

When investments in blue infrastructure are integrated early in the urban planning process, synergies can be achieved and costs reduced. Moreover, in order to meet the future demand for water, there needs to be a strong focus on efficient water management, operation and not least a focus on reducing Non-Revenue Water (NRW). Overcoming barriers to reduce NRW requires attention and involvement from several stakeholders – from politicians to local consumers – as well as new partnerships. The right political framework can create incentives for innovation and optimisation, as well as increase public awareness on the value of having a stable and efficient water supply.

Danish experience shows that climate adaptation can also present an opportunity to rethink urban development and gain greater value from investments. Rather than coming at the expense of urban living, climate adaptation can contribute to greener and more liveable cities. For instance, instead of expanding the underground sewage system, surplus water can be led to structures above the ground such as green beds, canals or lakes around the city. These serve a dual purpose as they – in addition to increasing the stormwater drainage capacity – also function as recreational areas, which help cool the city and increase biodiversity. It can be a great way to pursue a better way of moving than the new way of doing it.

Connect with us: Cecilie Buch Thomsen, Senior Project Manager, [email protected]

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