Coastal cities and rising sea levels

November 6, 2018

The climate is changing and consequently sea levels will rise and more frequent floods will become a reality for Danish coastal cities in the future. Both climate and cities are dynamic which makes it vital to discuss the future of coastal cities; how do we want to live in them, how do we want to use them and how do we make them climate resilient?

Public dialogue

The project is led by the Danish Board of Technology (DBT) and it seeks to initiate a debate on the future of coastal cities in Denmark and how to make them resilient towards rising sea levels. It is one of four parts of an extensive project led by the Danish private foundation Realdania called “Cities and the rising sea levels”. The project in which DBT is involved runs from 2018 to 2020. The purpose is to create a knowledge base and raise public discussions on how we want to live and use our cities in the future, and how these visions are interconnected with climate adaptation in relation to the rising sea level. The project will result in several possible future scenarios of the cities, recommendations for future legislation, responsibilities, funding and organization as well as guidelines for local methods of debate, which can shape the cities of the future.

Creating future scenarios

There is no correct way of shaping coastal cities of the future, which is why the project to begin with will operate with multiple possible future scenarios of the cities. These will create the basis for the debate between several stakeholders, experts, citizens and decision makers at all levels. In this debate the first future scenarios will be discussed, challenged and reshaped until they will ultimately represent a handful of common visions for Denmark’s climate resilient coastal cities of the future.

Engagement of the society in the entire process

The core of the project will be the engagement of stakeholders, citizens, experts and politicians throughout the process. Stakeholders will be engaged from the start and will discuss several issues related to the cities of the future and climate adaptation through workshops, consultations and conferences. Among the issues discussed are the natural and recreational areas of the cities, future transportation, residence and occupation of Denmark’s coastal cities. The result of the stakeholders’ work will afterwards lead to the facilitation of two citizen summits, where citizens from all around the country will meet, discuss and continue to work on future scenarios. A panel of nonpartisan politicians from the Danish parliament, municipalities and cities will follow the progression throughout the project as well as having the possibility of joining with inputs. Also, an interdisciplinary group of experts will work closely with DBT and will have a big influence on developing the future scenarios as well as the final recommendations and local guidelines. At the end of the project, the decisionmakers of the nonpartisan panel will join different meetings and seminars on their options of action based on the result of the process. Finally, all the results will be summarized and further discussed in a public hearing at the Danish parliament.

Encouragement of public debate

To ensure an ongoing dialogue, DBT will write newsletters to the Danish parliament, articles to the political magazine “Altinget” and several other public papers. In this way, everybody who has an interest in the project can share ideas and viewpoints in the debate. The overall aim of the project is that it will lead to knowledge, networks, debate and visionary solutions, which will work as a grounding foundation for the most optimal climate adaptation of Denmark’s coastal cities in the next 100 years, with a focus on how we want our coastal cities to be shaped in the future.