Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Built structures for water management

Cloudburst Management Plan in Copenhagen

A short description of the NSB

In 2012, to combat the impacts of cloudbursts, the City of Copenhagen developed a Cloudburst Management Plan outlining priorities and measures recommended for climate adaptation (including extreme rainfall). In particular, the Cloudburst Management Plan consists of 4 surface solutions as well as pipe-based solutions, including stormwater roads and pipes that transport water towards lakes and the harbour; detention roads for storing waters; detention areas to store very large volume of waters (i.e. parks that could turn into lakes during flood events); green roads to detain and hold back water in smaller side streets. 300 projects are planned and the City will decide once a year which projects will be undertaken through a prioritisation selection: it is estimated that around 15 projects a year will be carried out in the next 20-30 years. In addition to the prioritisation of projects in terms of importance for flood prevention, a socio-economic assessment was undertaken. The assessment found that while both the traditional sewer solution and the alternative solution meet the municipality’s objectives concerning stormwater and cloudbursts, the alternative solution results in higher net benefits. The traditional sewer solution has been estimated to cost DKK 20 billion compared to the DKK 13 billion of the alternative solution. Both solutions would reduce the costs of damage by DKK 16 billion; thus, the net gain of the alternative solution is DKK 3 billion compared to the net loss of the traditional solution of DKK 4 billion.

NBS Implementation context
Location Copenhagen (Denmark)
Status (from - to) Ongoing (since 2012)
NBS Scale Object Neighbourhood City
NBS Impacts scale Neighbourhood City
Urban density/ Soil consumption High (dense city center)
NBS Typology

NBS Uban Challenges
Climate Issues Climate mitigation
Climate adaptation
Other 0
Urban water management and quality Urban water management and quality
Flood management
Other 0
Air Quality Air quality at district/city scale
Air quality locally
Other 0
Urban Space and Biodiversity Biodiversity
Urban space design
Urban space management
Other 0
Urban Regeneration and Soil Air quality at district/city scale
Other 0
Resource efficiency Food, energy and water
Raw materials
Other 0
Public health and well-being Acustic
Quality of life
Other 0
Environmental justice and social cohesion Environmental Justice: Recognition
Environmental Justice: Procedural Justice
Environmental Justice: Distributional Justice
Environmental Justice: Capabilities
Environmental Justice: Responsibility
Social Cohesion
Other 0
Urban planning and governance Urban planning and form
Governance in planning
Other 0
People Security Control of crimes
Control of extraordinary events
Other 0
Green economy Circular economy
Bioeconomy activities
Direct economic value of NBS
Other 0
NBS Stakeholders & Governance

The Cloudburst Management Plan developed by the City of Copenhagen was coordinated with Køben-havns Energi (Copenhagen Energy), the City of Frederiksberg and Frederiksberg Forsyning (Frederiksberg utility company), since all rainwater falling in Frederiksberg during an extreme rainfall event leads to either a sewage treatment plant or into the sea via the City of Copenhagen. Furthermore, collaboration was initiated with neighbouring local authorities who lead surface water and waste water through the city to the common sewage treatment plants or to common water courses and lakes.

Initial actors (Leaders) Governments Local government/municipality (the City of Copenhagen)
Involved actors Governments Local government/municipality (the City of Copenhagen, the City of Frederiksberg, neighbouring local authorities),Market Private sector (Copenhagen Energy, Frederiksberg Forsyning,
Ecological scale Local scale green area City scale green networks
Governance model CLUSTER 1: Traditional public administration Closed governance
NBS Financial aspects

The climate adaptive initiatives in Copenhagen are financed by a combination of public and private investments. Private homeowners, on one hand, and the City Administration and the utility company (Københavns Energi) via taxes and revenues from charges, on the other. The city of Copenhagen, the Capital Area Supply Company (HOFOR) and private land owners will share the total costs of around € 1.5 billion. Water charges will finance the part of the solutions concerned with water management. The city can save money if it coordinates the implementation of the cloudburst and stormwater management with other construction projects. The combined solutions also require private individuals to invest in anti-flood backflow valves and local stormwater drainage.

Global (estimated) cost of the project € 1.5 billion
Financing mechanism CLUSTER 4: PUBLIC-PRIVATE
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Non applicable
Social Non applicable
Organisational Non applicable
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Awareness Climate Change
Governance Process efficiencies Collaboration, Co-creation and participation Involvement of urban government Co-production
Economy -
Process inibitors
Knowledge Uncertainty Operational unknown
Governance -
Economy Budget constraints
IM Keywords
  • Closed governance

  • Local scale green area

  • City scale green networks

  • Public-Private financing mechanisms

References The City of Copenhagen. Cloudburst Management Plan 2012. Link: European Environment Agency – EEA (2017). Financing urban adaptation to climate change. Report 2. Link: