It’s time for our cities to find solutions

The UN and nation states cannot battle climate change alone. We know this. By 2030, 60% of the world population will be living in urban areas. Cities play an integral role in tackling the global challenges. We know this, too. But how can decision makers move from this state of realisation to start implementing actual solutions?

Copenhageners crossing Queen Louise's Bridge on bycycles

By Jens-Peter Saul, Group CEO, Ramboll, November 2015

Burning questions that most city leaders ask themselves remain barriers for action:

How can we plan for an uncertain future with extreme weather? How can our city remain attractive and competitive while we strive for climate-friendly mobility? Which technical solutions will allow us to fulfil our ambitions? What do they cost? And how do we secure the financial incentive to invest and collaborate?

These stumbling blocks can make cities hesitate, and understandably so. But the cost of inaction is overwhelming, and often there comes a point of no return. Accounting for 70% of global CO2 emissions, cities remain a big part of the problem – but also the solution. Let’s move into solution mode.

View climate change as an opportunity

We need to view climate changes, such as frequent heatwaves, cloudbursts and flood risks, not only as threats but as opportunities to co-create more liveable, recreational urban environments and achieve green growth. And we need to realise that governments, cities and companies must work in unison and share their unique knowledge and experiences if we really mean business in our attempt to bring this vision to reality.

As a representative of the private sector, Ramboll is committed to solutions. Working as a sustainable society consultant from Greenland to Europe and the Middle East, we know that it takes urban planning, social coherence, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and most importantly good governance to ensure liveable city development. We also know that these five drivers aren’t enough.

Cities leading the way

Bristol has gone great lengths to ease congestion and reduce its carbon footprint with traffic-free Sundays and renewable energy solutions. Copenhagen has invested heavily in developing ambitious cloudburst plans to become more resilient towards intense rainfalls. In other words, mobility, resource optimisation, climate adaptation and mitigation are essential drivers, too.


Image: As part of the Copenhagen Cloudburst Mitigation Plan it is proposed to lower the water level in St. Jorgen’s Lake in order to provide a central storage area for flood waters.

What these green city innovators have in common is that legislators, city officials, utilities, the industry and citizens vow to contribute. The environmental, social and economic motivations must be defined and aligned between stakeholders to reach this inspiring level of commitment.

This holistic approach is pivotal in finding long-term solutions. COP21 must give the world a clear commitment fighting climate change. Cities must be ready to act.

See overview of climate change related articles 

Learn more

Response #4

As world leaders gather at the COP21 summit in Paris, cities and companies act to prepare for more frequent cloudbursts, prolonged droughts, and other extreme weather events. The 4th issue of Response focuses on solutions to the climate challenge.

Take a look at Response issue #4

From silo mentality to holism

Radical changes await our cities as temperatures and water levels rise, and more people migrate to urban areas. To maintain and develop our current way of life, we have to start preparing our cities for future challenges.

Learn more

Clever cities collaborate

The Compact of Mayors is the world’s largest collaborative effort to measure and reduce carbon emissions. CEO Jesper Nygård explains how cities, big or small, can learn from each other – if they are brave enough to collaborate, that is.

Learn more

Here comes the flood

Extreme rainfalls deluge our streets and overwhelm our drainage systems, resulting in costly cleanups. But by adapting cleverly, cities can turn this around and start capitalising on stormwater.

Learn more

Sustainable Society e-book: 3 steps for resilient cities.

At Ramboll, we deliver the full range of transformational city services. In this e-book we bring you knowledge about stakeholder involvement and socio-economy in particular.

Click here to download the e-book: 3 steps for resilient cities


St. Jørgens sø in Copenhagen

Cloudburst Concretisation Masterplan

On 2 July, 2011 large areas of the city of Copenhagen were flooded. Copenhagen is on the front line of climate change, experiencing increasingly heavy rain events, as they are also on the leading edge of urban innovation with a vision of transforming their city into a sustainable, C02 neutral city by 2025.

Ramboll Group A/S

Ramboll Group A/S
Hannemanns Allé 53
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Tel: +45 5161 1000
Fax +45 5161 1001


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