Water in the sustainable city

Working Paper Published: October 2016 Publisher:

Cities worldwide are facing growing challenges in storm water management. This working paper compiles experiences from Copenhagen, Dordrecht, Hamburg, London, New York and Seattle, based on interviews and a conference held in Gothenburg, Sweden in November 2014.


Urbanization is a continuous and growing process all over the world, as it is in Sweden. At the same time, we are threatened by climate change, which will affect us all wherever we live. The degradation of the environment is counteracted by many means, but new threats continue to emerge. Nine out of ten catastrophes globally are connected with water – too much water or too little. In the face of what might seem to be a dark future, many cities have taken steps to plan for a brighter future. Some cities focus on climate change, some on environmental threats, and others take a holistic approach and plan for a better, healthier, and economically vibrant city under all circumstances.

The same is also true for many Swedish cities. In doing so, they are constantly looking for good examples abroad. In order to facilitate this searching for advice and good examples, Swedish Water House started a project designed to describe the planning processes in cities that are known to have dealt with the problems in a way that might be also interesting in the Swedish context. At the same time, the City of Gothenburg is in a planning phase where they explicitly express interest in learning from other cities. It was decided to arrange the “Water in the Sustainable City” (“Vattnet i den hållbara staden”) conference, which drew together representatives from cities that could help Gothenburg on their journey. The six cities selected to be included in this report are:

  • Dordrecht, the Netherlands
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • London, UK
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • New York, USA
  • Seattle, USA