Danish capital Copenhagen receives INDEX: Award 2013 for the city’s climate adaptation plan, a plan that provides a unique and robust framework for a massive influx of sustainable design solutions in the future.

Whether or not CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases are to blame, an irreversible fact is that the planet’s climate is currently in a state of change, throwing tsunamis and massive rain pours at its inhabitants. And even though we cannot precisely predict the next natural disaster, we do know that our surroundings are changing dramatically.

Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, found a way to connect and address the climate changes in one master plan – The city’s Climate Adaptation Plan, aiming to prepare Copenhagen for the future by developing the Danish capital as a climate proof, attractive, and green city. The plan is one of two winners in the COMMUNITY category  of INDEX: Award 2013, and jury member Arnold S. Wasserman calls it “a foresight of critical importance.”

Arnold S. Wasserman calls it “a foresight of critical importance.”

“Copenhagen is already a world leader for green and sustainable solutions. By implementing the Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan, the city can stimulate growth and sustainability at the same time. We believe that a climate proof city is more attractive to live and invest in”, says Frank Jensen Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

In the Climate Adaptation Plan, experts have assessed which climate change challenges are the biggest and where Copenhagen as a city can derive the greatest benefit by taking action now and in the coming years. At the same time, the city is looking at how such measures – necessary for Copenhagen to adapt to the future climate – can be of pleasure and benefit to the city immediately. Thus, the Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan is “designing the city of tomorrow today” as INDEX: Award jury member John Heskett puts it.

Copenhagen is taking a lead in addressing climate change by targeting three key levels of climate adaptation:

  • Minimizing potential damage arising from climate change.
  • Warning and response systems to deal with abnormal conditions.
  • Preventive infrastructure to cope with damage, loss and traffic disruption.

A spokesman from the Municipality of Copenhagen says: “By including a green growth perspective in our thinking, Copenhagen will ensure that investments can be made in partnership with external investors. This can contribute to investments being not just an expense for the city, but also a way to create growth and employment – as well as attracting new knowledge and new business to the city.”

The climate adaptation plan is tightly interlinked with Copenhagen’s other key plans for green, sustainable, social and economic development. Taken together, the plans serve as the framework for hundreds of Danish designers, architects and engineers working on designing solutions for a vibrant and resilient metropolis of the 21st century.

The INDEX: Award jury’s motivations for awarding this design is that in a year where climate adaptation plans are mandatory in all municipalities throughout Denmark – and a central focus of city administrations around the world – Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan really stands out with its main focus on seeing flooding and climate adaptation as a resource rather than a problem, benefiting businesses and citizens alike. Thus, by rethinking climate adaptations as a whole, via in-depth analyzes, the Danish capital will use excess water as a vital resource – while implementing flexible design solutions that reduce construction work and saves money for the city.

Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan also stands out because it is based on public-private partnerships and, as opposed to many other climate adaptation plans, is of value because it has been passed in the Copenhagen City Council, in a city of relatively longsighted planning.

Use of award money
Copenhagen City will use the award sum of €100,000 to boost Copenhagen’s new climate adaptation projects, e.g. in the demonstration project for climate change adaptation solutions in the densely populated St. Kjeld’s Square area of Eastern Copenhagen.

The money will be used specifically with a focus on creating innovative design solutions and involving local citizens. In addition, the €100,000 is to be used on promoting and publicizing the opportunities that climate change adaptation provides – for citizens, designers and businesses.

The above use depends on agreement in The Finance Committee, The Technical & Environmental Committee and in the City Council of Copenhagen City.


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