Climate Change Adaptation and MitigationClimate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
Climate change adaptation and mitigation is a critical imperative of this decade. The case studies highlight leading-edge actions in North American and internationally by cities in their efforts to reduce climate change impacts and mitigate their effects through initiatives such as integrated energy planning, systems-wide and integrated long-term planning and implementation.
City of Copenhagen, DenmarkCity of Copenhagen, Denmark
Alex Fletcher, Member, Sustainability Solutions Group
Published February 3, 2011
Copenhagen, Denmark’s Capital, has a population of half a million, within a wider metropolitan area whose population is over a million. Connections with neighbouring Malmo in Sweden, which is linked by bridge, are very close, and some demographers treat the two cities as a single metropolitan region, with a population of over two million. Copenhagen is the economic and financial centre of Denmark, with a service-oriented economy, and strong recent economic performance.
Sustainable Development Characteristics
The City of Copenhagen has a track record of comprehensive long-term planning and regulation for climate change, and is seen as an innovative leader in several areas including wind energy, district heating, and bicycle transportation. Copenhagen continues to set high goals for the future including, by 2025, becoming the world’s first carbon neutral capital and, by 2015, defining itself as the world’s ‘eco-metropolis’.
These achievements and sustainability-related initiatives will have taken place in the absence of any overarching sustainability or sustainable development plan. This is due, in large part, to the long history of understanding for the concept of sustainability in Copenhagen; comprehensive long-range planning has been a common practice for decades throughout Denmark. Aspects of sustainable development have long been integrated into government frameworks and are now typically intrinsic in the planning and decision-making processes.
Critical Success Factors
Three factors are regarded as critical to Copenhagen’s success in advancing sustainable development:
- Broad political commitment. Collaboration and unity are considered cultural norms in Denmark. In Copenhagen, significant efforts were made to collaborate across party lines and between government departments, thereby gaining approval from both the city council and the public.
- A long-term vision that reaches beyond mainstream initiatives. As the Copenhagen case study shows, ambitious, large-scale projects, that in some cases span decades, are possible and can provide many benefits.
- Priorities and initiatives based on facts and sound science. In Denmark, education is highly valued and free to all citizens, resulting in a well-informed public and an educated workforce. The city employs experts and scientists and engages external expertise, when needed.
In Copenhagen, cycling is widely accepted as a very practical and rational mode of transportation. Copenhagen has a long history of cycling transportation dating back over a hundred years. Due to its size, density, and the city’s comprehensive planning, most commuters only travel a few kilometers to their destinations. At distances up to 5 kilometers, bicycles offer an efficient mode of transport in Copenhagen that can easily compete with buses and cars. Furthermore, because so many young students bike or walk to school, there is strong support, sometimes demands, from the parents to provide safe routes for their children.
Community Contact Information
Hans Christian Christiansen
Senior Advisor, Technical and Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen
Njalsgade 13, 2. sal
1502 København V
Telefon: 3366 5866
Telefax: 3366 7133
Successful strategies and initiatives that worked for the City of Copenhagen include:
The Environmental Protection Act, passed in the 1970’s, provided Denmark with a legislative foundation to make incremental advancements in sustainability over the years.
High taxes have provided the government and municipalities with most of the revenue needed to manage large public programs and projects.
Tax incentives for renewable energy have been effective in incorporating clean energy and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) into the district heating system, as well as encouraging investment in wind energy.
Subsidies and feed in tariffs for renewable energy have been instrumental in securing investments in wind farms.
Wind co-ops have helped increase investment in renewable energy while also increasing public support for windmills.
A strong tradition of collaboration between political parties, municipalities, and different branches of government leads to integrated and comprehensive decision-making and planning, which receives broad political support.
Extensive planning processes, with 4-year cycles and 12-year horizons are standard, ensuring targets are up-to-date, progress is regularly measured, and plans modified to ensure continuous improvement.
The Integrated District Heating (DH) network is a versatile system providing more efficient and affordable heating with lower emissions. The network integrates the DH system between several municipalities strengthening unity and collaboration.
Combined heat and power plants use the waste product (heat) from one system to create efficiencies which translate to reduced emissions and a more affordable energy supply.
Investments in cycling infrastructure have established a safe and efficient cycling environment, which in turn has resulted in a viable and popular mode of transportation that contributes to health and reduced emissions.
Waste incineration for heat has both decreased waste being sent to landfill and provided a local source of energy.
The Finger Plan, a comprehensive urban plan dating back to the mid 1940’s, established a smart growth strategy that concentrates urban growth around transportation routes and services, allows for short and efficient travel distances, and protects green space in close proximity to inhabitants.
What Didn’t Work?
Public campaigns have been unable to engage 100% of the population. As a general standard, about a third of the population is responsive while the rest is either not interested or complacent.
Despite the city’s comprehensive waste management plan and its efforts in waste prevention, recycling, and separation, the city has not been able to decouple waste and prosperity. The waste management plan cites higher spending power in recent years in Copenhagen leading to higher levels of waste.
Introduced in the 1990’s, the Public Bicycle program was initially unsuccessful due to numerous thefts of the free bikes and insufficient resources to support the program; however, through a partnership developed between the city, ministries, and private interests, eventually a system of free public bicycles was successfully implemented and is maintained throughout the city. Collaboration was key to sourcing the initial funding, attracting major sponsors, building public support, promoting theft prevention, and integrating the program into the broader cycling infrastructure planning.
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
The size and capacity of Copenhagen’s administration has played a significant role in enabling the city to manage sustainability projects. High taxes contribute revenue and also enable tax incentives to be very effective in directing investment into priority areas like renewable energy projects. While partnerships with the private sector have not played a large role in financing sustainability projects to date, partnerships are becoming more common and are strategies being considered for financing initiatives in the Copenhagen Climate Plan. Also, as part of the climate plan, an Energy Fund is being considered to capture and reinvest savings from efficiency upgrades to buildings. The Adaptation plan has yet to be approved but is calculated to cost 12 B DKK (approx. $ 2.2 billion CDN) over 100 years. If approved, the next step will be to determine a financing system as well as integrate the planning objectives into existing areas of the government.
Copenhagen spends approximately 40 million DKK per year (approx. $ 7 million CDN) on its cycling infrastructure. One kilometer of traditional cycle track costs 8 million DKK (approx. $ 1.5 million CDN). In the Public Bicycle program, sponsorship and advertising funding was essential to continuing the program.
This case study was prepared using in-depth interviews with city officials considered experts in the area examined and exchanges of email correspondence. All interviewees were asked what worked and what didn’t work in the city’s approach to and its achievements in sustainability. Interviewees were also asked to provide insight into replicating similar models in the Canadian context. Government documents, literature and websites were also reviewed. For some government documents, it was a challenge to locate the text in English. Also, English translations of city plans and other documents were sometimes only available in abbreviated forms of the original Danish versions. Language is, therefore, a limitation in this case study.
Detailed Case Background Description
Sustainable Development: Historical Context
The broad political and social motivation for sustainable development can be traced back to the political climate in the late 1960’s and the far reaching influence of such events as the Youth Revolution in Paris. Components of sustainable development, including concerns for human rights, women’s rights, and the environment became popular at that time, particularly amongst Denmark’s large student and youth population. During this period, the governing Social Democratic Party shifted further to the left of the political spectrum adopting these popular concerns and developing policies to address them.
In 1972, the Danish Parliament also passed the Environmental Protection Act, a ‘framework act’ which defined the newly formed Environmental Protection Agencies’ fundamental objectives. The Danish Act was the first environmental Act to be implemented in the world and was part of a wider trend in the region. In neighboring Sweden, similar advancements were being made and the first United Nations (UN) Conference on the environment took place in Stockholm that same year. Compounding this growing awareness of the environment was the energy crisis. At the time of the energy crisis in the 1970’s, Denmark was importing almost all of the fossil fuels it used for heating. The price shock provided a strong incentive for the Danish government to take action and pursue greater energy independence.
The year after the 1987 Brundtland Commission (UN World Commission for Environment and Development), Denmark developed an Environment and Development Action plan, which was a move towards a broader sustainable development focus. In 1988, Denmark developed its Energy 2000 plan introducing a target of a 20% reduction in green house gas emissions, by 2005.
Decentralized Comprehensive Planning
Considerable authority is delegated to municipalities in Denmark. The national government often coordinates planning through legislation requiring municipal-level planning. For example, since the early 1990’s, under the Danish Statutory Order on Waste, local authorities are required to prepare a Waste Management Plan every 4 years with a horizon of 12 years. The plan is to include a survey section, an objectives section, and a planning section.
Under the 1974 Planning Act, municipalities must go through a planning process before starting a major project. The threshold for a major project has decreased over the years so that planning processes are very commonplace within municipal government.
Political Stability and Collaboration
The City of Copenhagen is governed by a council with representation from seven, mostly left-leaning, political parties. The Social Democrat party has held the mayoral position for over 100 years. While municipal governments may have changed, concern for the environment, sustainable development and climate change mitigation remained constant across all partly lines.
The city’s committees involve all stakeholders in decision-making and planning processes. At the national level, there is an association of local authorities that is consulted when new legislation is proposed. This strong tradition of collaboration in Denmark is considered a practical necessity for advancing projects and legislation. Both the Copenhagen Climate Change Plan and the Adaptation Plan were developed with a broad spectrum of input from opposition parties, as well as different government agencies, to ensure broad support and potential for being adopted by city council. Copenhagen’s Climate Change Plan was adopted unanimously in 2009 and the Adaptation plan is expected to be approved this year.
The tradition of collaboration also has a bearing on leadership styles in Copenhagen. It is not very common for individuals to build a reputation as a champion of a certain cause as this goes against the culture and tradition of building agreement and seeking unity and equality that is associated with a “Nordic way of living”. While there have been ministers that, for example have had the reputation of championing the environment, they are not considered to have been more effective than their less visible counterparts.
In Copenhagen, there are approximately 50,000 employees equivalent to 40,000 full time positions. The size and capacity of the administration of Copenhagen has played a significant role in the city’s ability to manage and finance large-scale sustainable development projects. The city has considerable human and financial capital to work with. There is a tendency to incorporate new issues and initiatives into existing management positions and to integrate them across the different areas of government. For example, a program like the Climate Ambassadors, that trains students about climate change and encourages them to educate their family and friends, is relatively easily absorbed within the existing system of government and education. Also, it has become common practice to include sustainability issues upfront in most areas of planning and decision-making. The strength of government and public institutions has also meant that there is less dependence on non-governmental organizations to fill the gaps.1
Comprehensive Urban Planning: The Finger Plan
Developed in 1947, the Finger Plan is a comprehensive growth strategy that continues to direct urban development in Copenhagen today. Under the plan’s concept, central Copenhagen represents the palm of a hand and 5 transportation and development ‘fingers’ extend out from it. By concentrating growth along designated highway and S-train routes and locating shops, schools and services and dense housing near the stations, people have easy access to essential services and can get around efficiently without the need of cars. In between the fingers green space and agricultural land is protected with the objective of being easily accessible for everyone.
Integrated District Heating (DH) System
Copenhagen is considered to have one of the most extensive and successful district heating systems in the world. It supplies 97% of the city with clean, reliable and affordable heating through a 1,500 km double-pipe network. Established in the 1980’s, with partnerships between municipalities in the metropolitan area, the DH network connects Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, waste incinerators and boiler plants to distribution companies in a one pool-operated system with a total heat production equivalent to about 20% of Denmark’s total heating demand. The integration of four DH systems servicing 18 municipalities in the metropolitan region, allows transmission companies the flexibility to choose which production plants to purchase from on a per hour basis to supply heat and energy at the lowest possible cost, incorporating energy taxes and CO2-quota-costs. The system is adaptable to different fuels and technologies. Some CHP plants have converted from coal to natural gas and others have begun incorporating biomass into their feedstock. As described in the Climate Plan and the Heat Plan Copenhagen, future plans include converting more of the plants to biomass, adding a new CHP plant based on renewable energy, continuing to expand and improve the distribution infrastructure, and increasing the heating capacity of the city’s demonstration geothermal facility. The Heat Plan Greater Copenhagen also projects four different scenarios for the heat supply system, by 2025, based on an assessment of the present and future regulatory framework and an evaluation of future technologies. The plan includes considerations based on a 2050 horizon and a 100% renewable energy scenario.
Today, about a third of Copenhagen’s district heat comes from biomass and waste incineration and the other two-thirds from fossil fuels. Cogeneration of heat and electricity is said to result in around 30% savings compared to the equivalent production in separate heat and power plants. Similarly, green house gas emissions reductions of approximately 40% to 50% are said to be achieved by using centralized production plants instead of individual household boilers running on gas or oil. Waste incineration handles about 40% of the city’s waste production, a significant redirection of waste from landfill. In Copenhagen less than 2% of waste is directed to the landfill. Furthermore, in 2009, the heating cost for the consumer was calculated to be about 50% less when compared to oil or gas. The infrastructure has proven to be durable with pipes installed during the 1970’s still in use today.
Denmark is home to the world's second largest offshore wind farm, Horns Rev. The 80-turbine wind farm produces an annual output of 600,000,000 kilowatt-hours, equivalent to the demand of 150,000 Danish households and representing nearly 2% of Denmark's total electricity consumption. Denmark is also home to Vestas, the world’s largest windmill company.
Key factors in the growth of wind energy include financial support for research and development and development as well as regulatory incentives. Subsidies and feed in tariffs are key to promoting wind farm development. Wind farm co-ops have also played a role and are promoted through tax exemptions for investors. A recent law has made it mandatory for new wind turbines to sell at least 20% of their shares to people who live within 4.5 km of the turbine. An example of local ownership, The Middelgrunden farm is owned jointly by Danish Oil and Natural Gas and a cooperative with 8,650 members. The farm supplies more than 3% of the power used in Copenhagen. Besides increasing investment in wind energy, local ownership has the added benefits of helping generate social acceptance of wind mills, minimizing line loss over the energy grid, and promoting local engagement, empowerment, and employment.
In 2009, 37% (150,000) of people in Copenhagen cycled to work or school. By 2015, the city aims to increase this number to 50%, in effect adding 55,000 more cyclists to the roads. Existing infrastructure includes approximately 350 kilometers of isolated cycle track, 15 kilometers of painted-line cycle lanes, and a system of green routes being built featuring less stops and more natural surroundings. Bicycle lanes are inspected for quality every two years as part of the bicycle policy’s evaluation process, which measures progress towards the policy’s goals. There are also bicycle parking facilities at bus stops and train stations and bicycles are allowed on trains and subways outside of peak demand periods. Safety initiatives like pre-green traffic signals, which turn green for cyclists a few seconds before turning green for cars, have led to a decrease by 67% between 1996 and 2009 in the risk of serious injury to cyclists. In order to accommodate planned growth in cycling, new paths are constantly being created. In 2010, 100 million DKK (approx, $ 18.4 million CDN) was committed for further infrastructure. New efforts target newcomers and seek cooperation with the surrounding municipalities to better accommodate commuters traveling larger distances.
The city maintains a Public Bike program with 120 bike racks and coordinates a winter collection and maintenance each year. Initially unsuccessful due to theft and lack of financing, the program is now financed through sponsorships and advertisement. Maintenance work provides employment for inmates and unemployed people. A new public bike system is being planned that will attract more commuters, expand the bike zone into a neighboring municipality, improve the bikes, and increase the number of free bikes available.
Copenhagen is currently in the process of approving a Climate Change Adaptation plan. The plan focuses on three key areas: 1. Increased rainfall, 2. Sea level rise, and 3. Heat waves. The plan includes economic risk analyses with projections for 30, 50 and 100 years. With predictions of a 30% increase in rainfall over the next 30-40 years, storm water management presents a significant challenge. The plan takes the approach that it would be too expensive not to take preventative action. It also seeks solutions that provide multiple benefits, such as green roofs, increased green space, natural holding areas and other methods that are included in a catalogue as part of the plan. The plan projects implementation to cost 12 billion DKK (approx. $ 2.2 billion CDN) over 100 years. Once approved, work will be needed to determine how to finance the adaptation projects as well as to integrate adaptation planning into other areas of planning and regulation.
Applicability to the Candian Context
This case study highlights the importance of the following factors for meaningful implementation and exploitation of best practices at national and local levels in Canada.
A culture and tradition of collaboration, open communication and debate and a tendency towards finding common ground and building unity between political parties, municipalities, and different areas of government.
Strong collaborative political leadership.
Developing a standard of ongoing, extensive planning processes every 4-years with 12-year horizons for most projects and across all management areas of municipal governance.
Strong coordination between national and municipal level governments and decentralized municipal level planning and decision-making.
Market incentives, in the form of subsidies, tax incentives, and feed in tariffs to direct private funds towards priority areas such as renewable energy.
Cooperation between multiple municipalities to advance complex large-scale projects.
Large government work force and high taxes.
Strong regulatory framework and collaboration between municipalities and across different levels of government led to the achievement of Copenhagen’s extensive district heating system
- How does Copenhagen’s system of comprehensive planning compare to Canadian municipalities planning practices?
- How has Copenhagen’s historical context shaped its sustainability outcomes?
- How has Copenhagen’s cultural and political context influenced its sustainability outcomes?
- How critical are district heating systems to achieving sustainable development and are there any equivalent examples in Canada?
Resources and References
Braden Reddall, Reuters, Vestas will not chase market share at any price. Sep 1, 2010. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6807MA20100901 Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
C40 Cities, Best Practices: Transportation. Available: http://www.c40cities.org/bestpractices/transport/copenhagen_bicycles.jsp Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
C40 Cities, Best Practices: Energy. Available: http://www.c40cities.org/bestpractices/energy/copenhagen_heat.jsp Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
C40 Cities, Best Practices: Wind. Available: http://www.c40cities.org/bestpractices/renewables/copenhagen_wind.jsp Retrieved Jan 11, 2011.
Cahasan, Paul, Arielle Farina Clark. Five Fingers Plan. Available: http://depts.washington.edu/open2100/Resources/1_OpenSpaceSystems/
Open_Space_Systems/copenhagen.pdf Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
City of Copenhagen, Waste Management Plan 2012 (the short version). The Technical and Environmental Administration, 2008.
City of Copenhagen. Copenhagen Climate Plan (The short version). The Technical and Environmental Administration, 2009. Available: www.c40cities.org/docs/ccap-copenhagen-030709.pdf. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Copenhagen. Copenhagen’s Green Accounts 2009, The Technical and Environmental Administration, April 2009. Available: http://kk.sites.itera.dk/apps/kk_publikationer/pdf/740_K2EECOEUyW.pdf. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
Danish Board of District Heating, Development in Denmark. Available: http://www.dbdh.dk/artikel.asp?id=463&mid=24 Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
District Heating in Copenhagen: An Energy Efficient, Low Carbon, and Cost Effective Energy System. Available: http://dbdh.dk/images/uploads/pdf-diverse/District_heating_in_Copenhagen.pdf Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Infrastructure Factsheet Denmark January 2008. Available: http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/8583/html/entire_publication.htm Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
Network of the Heads of Environment Protection Agencies (Europe), Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Available: http://epanet.ew.eea.europa.eu/european_epas/countries/dk Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
Sørensen, Hans Christian, Lars Kjeld Hansen, Jens H. Mølgaard Larsen, SPOK, Blegdamsvej Middelgrunden 40 mw Offshore Wind Farm Denmark – Lessons Learned, Sept 2002. Available: http://www.emu-consult.dk/includes/middelgrunden_munich.pdf Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
Varmeplan Hovedstaden, Newsletter-October 2009. Available: http://www.varmeplanhovedstaden.dk/files/otherfiles/0000/0045/VPH_Newsletter.pdf Retrieved Jan 10, 2011.
Varmeplan Hovedstaden, District Heating in Greater Copenhagen: Energy efficiency & CO2 reduction. December 14 2009. Available: http://www.varmeplanhovedstaden.dk/files/otherfiles/0000/0049/PSI_workshop_at_COP_15.pdf Retrieved Jan 10, 2011
1 In order to finance this robust public sector servicing, Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world, roughly 50% on income. Danes are used to high costs of living and they are generally accepting of it because of the great social benefits they experience as a result (per.comm., December 23, 2010).
City of London, EnglandCity of London, England
Rebecca Foon, Director, Sustainability Solutions Group
Published March 3, 2011
London’s mitigation strategy aims for over a quarter of it’s energy demand to be met from low or zero carbon local sources such as the London Thames Gateway Heat Network, the largest new decentralized energy development in Europe. Londoners will be generating their own low carbon energy through micro-renewable technologies such as solar panels as well as using waste to heat their homes, with all waste either recycled or converted into low carbon energy at London’s waste-to-energy plants (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 9). London’s emission reduction targets include reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2025 and at least by 80 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2050. Programs include the RE:NEW Program, an initiative to retrofit 1.2 million homes, by 2015 (the largest initiative of its kind for London) and the RE:FIT Program which aims to retrofit public sector buildings with energy efficiency measures. The RE:CONNECT Program involves delivering ten low carbon zones in London each to reduce CO2 emissions by 20.12 per cent, by 2012. The London Waste and Recycling Board is investing £73.4 million in new, clean waste management infrastructure, including energy-from-waste facilities to help London dramatically reduce its overall carbon footprint.
Sustainable Development Characteristics
The draft Climate Change Mitigation strategy aims to maximize economic strategies. By 2025, the vision is for London to be a thriving low carbon economy and to become its own “powerhouse.” London’s mitigation strategy aims for over a quarter of it’s energy demand to be met from low or zero carbon local sources such as the London Thames Gateway Heat Network, the largest new decentralized energy development in Europe. Londoners will be generating their own low carbon energy through micro-renewable technologies such as solar panels as well as using waste to heat their homes, with all waste either recycled or converted into low carbon energy at London’s waste-to-energy plants (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 9). London’s emission reduction targets include reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2025 and at least by 80 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2050. Programs include the RE:NEW Program, an initiative to retrofit 1.2 million homes, by 2015 (the largest initiative of its kind for London) and the RE:FIT Program which aims to retrofit public sector buildings with energy efficiency measures. The RE:CONNECT Program involves delivering ten low carbon zones in London each to reduce CO2 emissions by 20.12 per cent, by 2012. The London Waste and Recycling Board is investing £73.4 million in new, clean waste management infrastructure, including energy-from-waste facilities to help London dramatically reduce its overall carbon footprint.
The GLA is currently developing an electric vehicle infrastructure strategy to introduce 100,000 electric vehicles into the city as soon as possible, as well as develop charging points across the city. A ‘congestions zone’ has been established, whereby car drivers are charged a tariff to enter the zone, an incentive aimed at encouraging sustainable transportation. A passionate cyclist himself, the London Mayor is interested in seeing bicycle lanes implemented throughout the city to encourage cycling. Barclays Bank, a major global financial services company sponsored the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme. This scheme, considered to be a very successful initiative, has placed hundreds of bicycle docking stations throughout the city for residents to take a bicycle for the day (similar to the BIXI initiative in Montreal). London has successfully increased bus use through initiatives such as controlling fare costs and subsidizing bus tickets. The Cross Rail project is a £16 billion east-west underground train project, to introduce larger and faster trains providing more sustainable transport options.
The GLA is introducing green roofs in central London, with plans to increase London’s green areas by 10%, mostly through green roofs in new and emerging developments.
London’s draft Climate Change Adaptation strategy describes London as vulnerable to flooding, drought and overheating and the strategy focuses on a series of actions designed to reduce these risks. The adaptation strategy’s goal is for London to be resilient to flooding and to have emergency plans to handle it. The adaptation strategy also stipulates that, by 2030, London should achieve a sustainable water supply to meet demand, reduce and manage the impact of hot weather, and ensure an emergency plan exists for coping with heat waves (GLA, Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, 12).
London’s housing strategy includes new housing construction sustainability standards and an affordable housing strategy. The draft London Plan sets affordable housing targets including maximizing affordable housing provision and seeking at least 13,200 more affordable homes per year in London over the term of the plan and to eliminate homelessness, by 2012 (GLA, London Plan, 81).
Critical Success Factors
The Greater London Authority Act of 1999 established the statutory obligations on the Mayor of London to produce a number of strategies including: sustainable development; climate change; health; equality; and, community safety. There is a strategic environmental assessment process that sets out a methodology to measure and ensure the sustainable development impact of the different strategies implemented for the GLA. London’s baseline sustainability appraisal has been a vital tool to measure the overall sustainability performance, ensuring that any gaps are filled. London also performs an Integrated Impact Assessment as good practice. Different partners in both the private and public sector are collaborating on projects focused on sustainable development in London. Some examples include the Mayor of London, Transport for London, the London Development Agency, private sector companies, and the 32 London boroughs.
Community Contact Information
Greater London Authority
Policy and Program Manager for climate change and adaptation and water
+44 207 983 4322
London’s sustainable development agenda has been successful partly due to a collaborative, dynamic and flexible governance model as opposed to a top-down model. Communication, relationship building, cross-department dialogue and the development of sustainability working groups have been fundamental to creating strong partnerships and successful initiatives. Strong city leadership and the promotion of strong leadership in the community and workplace through programs like London Leaders, an initiative designed to stimulate leadership in communities, homes and workplaces have also positively impacted sustainable development in London.
London’s strategic environmental assessment methodology and management system has been key in ensuring high quality sustainability performance through measuring and monitoring the sustainable development impact of all the strategies laid out by the GLA and its boroughs.
London has demonstrated the importance of understanding the interdependencies related to how a city functions and integrating these interdependencies in its sustainability plans and initiatives. London has also proved the importance of mapping out the impacts of climate change and the different thresholds and acceptable levels of risk, and building a climate change strategy from the accepted baseline.
What Didn’t Work?
Imposing a top down framework has not been successful in moving the sustainability agenda forward as it reinforces government silos between departments and does not encourage collaboration. Some interviewees also noted that some of London’s short-term efforts to reduce GHG’s may not work in the mid to long-term (for example, developing buildings that rely on cooling in the future). As well, some interviewees noted that the UK currently lacks public support on climate change initiatives.
The European Union emissions trading scheme (EU EUTS) was launched in 2005 and works using the "cap and trade" principle whereby there is a "cap" or limit, on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by industry including factories and power plants. Within this cap, companies receive emission allowances that they can sell or buy from one another as needed. The limit on the total number of allowances determined ensures that they have a value and heavy fines are imposed if a company exceeds the allowances.
Some interviewees have commented that the European Union emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), based in London, may not work as intended as of yet. With too many credits and the price of carbon being very low, some companies may have more credits than they require.
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
London is unable to bear the full costs of sustainable development strategies such as the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation strategies and looks for creative ways to cost-share with other partners both in the public and private sectors. London’s mitigation strategy aims for over a quarter of it’s energy demand to be met from low or zero carbon local sources such as the London Thames Gateway Heat Network, the largest new decentralized energy development in Europe. Londoners will be generating their own low carbon energy through micro-renewable technologies such as solar panels as well as using waste to heat their homes, with all waste either recycled or converted into low carbon energy at London’s waste-to-energy plants (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 9). London’s emission reduction targets include reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2025 and at least by 80 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2050. Programs include the RE:NEW Program, an initiative to retrofit 1.2 million homes, by 2015 (the largest initiative of its kind for London) and the RE:FIT Program which aims to retrofit public sector buildings with energy efficiency measures. The RE:CONNECT Program involves delivering ten low carbon zones in London each to reduce CO2 emissions by 20.12 per cent, by 2012. The London Waste and Recycling Board is investing £73.4 million in new, clean waste management infrastructure, including energy-from-waste facilities to help London dramatically reduce its overall carbon footprint. For example, the projected costs of reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels is estimated at £40 billion of investment. £14 billion will be funded by the GLA and the remainder will be financed through public and private sector partnerships.
London has currently committed over £100 million over three years on direct climate change programs as well as several hundred million more on programs with clear carbon benefits (including hybrid buses, new sustainability-built homes, and cycling). London leverages funding from the European Union and the private sector through the £100 million London Green Fund, a fund set up to invest in environmental infrastructure projects and market development in the areas of waste management, decentralized energy and energy efficiency (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 15). The GLA does not want to depend solely on public sector funding to support sustainable development initiatives, and is exploring private sector investments. For example, the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is a major initiative funded by the private sector. Existing private/public partnerships (PPPs) include London’s water companies contributing £2 million in water efficient shower heads for the RE:NEW Program. The Government and the European investment bank are currently funding the initiative. These PPP’s have proven to be a successful way to reach more people at less cost. The RE:NEW Program aims to be free upfront for all home owners through a pay-as-you-save model. The RE:FIT Program also aims to be free upfront, and financed through a public-private fund.
This case study was prepared using in-depth personal interviews with officials from the City of London Corporation and officials from the Greater London Authority. All interviewees have worked to guide London on its path to sustainable development. All interviewees were asked what worked and what didn’t work with London moving its sustainable development agenda forward. They were also asked to provide insight into replicating similar models in the Canadian context. Government documents, literature and websites were also reviewed.
Detailed Case Background Description
The City of London is one of the world’s leading international finance centres, located in the area referred to as the Square Mile. With only 8,000 residents, the city has 6,000 businesses in the business services sector, which contribute to approximately 19% of London’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 6% of the United Kingdom’s GDP. The city contributes an estimated £31 billion to Europe’s GDP, directly employs almost 320,000 people, and indirectly employs hundreds of thousands more.
There are two mayoral positions associated with London. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, and the Mayor of London, sometimes referred to as the London Mayor, are different, but complementary positions.
The Lord Mayor’s key responsibility is to domestically and internationally promote the City of London. He is also the head of the City of London Corporation, which provides the business and government services to the City of London.
In 1999, the Greater London Authority (GLA) Act brought the City of London and its 32 surrounding boroughs under the strategic jurisdiction of the Mayor of London. Along with the London Assembly, the Mayor of London is accountable for strategic governance of the GLA, regarding transport, economic development, policing (outside of the City of London Corporation area), civil defense, fire services, planning, the environment, as well as the championing and coordination of major London-wide events and international events such as the bid for the 2012 Olympics. The Mayor's revenue raising powers include public transport fares, and the central London congestion charge for road traffic.
Under the GLA Act, the Mayor of London has to produce a development strategy for the Greater London Area and keep it under review. The City of London and the 32 boroughs’ local development documents are to conform to the London Mayor’s development strategy. The GLA legislation also requires that the London Mayor’s strategy take into account: economic development and wealth creation; social development; and, improvement of the environment. Now called the London Plan, the first suite of strategies was published in 2004. Published in February 2008, the second London Plan pulled together two sets of alterations and an update to the 2004 version.
In May 2008, the new Mayor of London was elected. A full review of the plan was conducted in 2008, and in 2009, the Mayor put forth his first draft London Plan setting out an integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of London over the next 20 - 25 years (GLA, draft London Plan, 9). The draft plan proposes numerous strategies including those addressing transportation, economic development, housing, culture, a range of social issues, and a range of environmental issues such as climate change (adaptation and mitigation), air quality, noise, and waste.
The draft London Plan incorporates a range of measures to move the GLA along its sustainability path, which include measures to make new buildings more energy efficient, to promote low and zero carbon energy generation and new housing construction sustainability standards through the Mayor’s London Housing strategy in the draft London Plan. The draft plan’s Transport strategy includes measures to reduce London’s transport emissions, including enhancing public transportation, investments in walking and cycling infrastructure, and energy efficiency measures on the London Underground and buses. Low carbon economy programs are under development, including the Low Carbon Employment & Skills Program to deliver skills training and create jobs to ensure Londoners can benefit from the economic benefits of the low carbon economy (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 17).
In 2010, London released a draft Climate Change Adaptation strategy for public consultation. The draft adaptation strategy uses a risk-based approach to understanding the impacts of climate change today and the expected changes to occur throughout the century. As well, the strategy provides a framework to identify and prioritize the key climate risks and then to identify who is best placed to work individually or collaboratively to deliver actions to reduce and manage these risks (Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for London, 8). Scientific reports indicate that in the future, the southeast of England will experience warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers. Greater London will face an increasing risk of floods, droughts and overheating (high temperatures). Without action to manage these risks, the impacts from the changing climate will increasingly affect the prosperity of the city and the quality of life for all Londoners, but especially the most vulnerable in society” (Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for London: 8). Consequently, the draft adaptation strategy focuses on the GLA’s response to reduce the impacts of floods, droughts and overheating. London should be resilient to extreme floods and have intensive emergency plans, should achieve a sustainable supply and demand balance for water in London, by 2030, as well as reduce and manage the effects of hot weather and have in place an emergency plan for heat waves.
London examined the risks and opportunities pertaining to climate change with a risk assessment examining how vulnerable London is to extreme weather today, applied climate change scenarios, and mapping who and what is at risk. The strategy is based on the premise that proactive adaptation is much cheaper that recovering from the impacts of extreme weather, and that there is enormous opportunity in sharing knowledge. London is examining the costs associated with the different scenarios. The GLA is currently mapping surface water flood risks and prioritizing service water hotspots. Supply and demand for water is an issue for Londoners. Fresh water is stressed in the south east of England and there is significant demand for fresh water in London; consequently London must deal with major issues in terms of future fresh water supply. London is currently engaged in a large urban greening campaign, including developing green roofs and walls on all new major development enforced through London’s green roof policy, increasing green cover by 10% by 2050 and planting 2 million trees by 2030. Community flood plans have been developed and, working with high risk communities, flood champions identified to ensure that the elderly and poor are looked after. The final draft of the Climate Change Adaptation strategy will be published in 2011. The Greater London Authority collected the general public’s opinions and votes on the draft strategy through it’s website at: www.london.gov.uk/climatechange.
Climate change mitigation and GHG reduction have become a huge priority for London and other cities in the UK. Over the last two years, the British Parliament has passed the Climate Change Act with ambitious CO2 reduction targets. The new coalition government has plans to create a new Green Investment Bank and an Energy Security and Green Economy Bill. The EU is also committed to a series of leading targets, including reducing CO2 emissions by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 13). The vision is for London to be the greenest city in the world, with a strong and vibrant low carbon economy, with the lowest carbon footprint per person of any big city in the world. London plans on reducing its GHG emissions by 60%, by 2025. The Mayor is currently working with all of London’s boroughs and local communities to cut CO2 emissions by 20.12 per cent by 2012 from ten Low Carbon Zones. The vision includes being a leading low carbon capital, having a secure supply of low carbon energy, having some of the most energy efficient buildings of any large city in the world and having a transport network that will be well on the road to zero emissions. The Greater London Authority predicts that it could realize £3.7 billion of additional economic opportunities annually through to 2025 by securing the equivalent to its global market share in the low carbon market.
The RE:NEW Program is an initiative created by the Mayor, working through the London Development Agency, and in partnership with the London Councils, London boroughs and the Energy Saving Trust, to dramatically increase the development of energy efficiency measures to all of London’s homes. By 2030, London plans to provide London-wide retrofitting of water and energy saving measures in existing homes (1.2 million homes). The GLA has started to deliver the RE:NEW Program, through two pilot projects retrofitting 100,000 homes. Offering free roof insulation, optimizing heating systems, new water efficient toilets, low flow shower heads and aerators have proven very effective measures in saving water and energy. By 2015, the program will educate all Londoners on simple energy efficiency measures including loft and cavity wall insulation where needed. By 2015, the GLA plans on implementing an approach that will integrate a pay-as-you-save funding model to support the installation of easy-to-install energy efficiency measures along with more expensive whole-house measures into every London home that wants it by 2030 (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 12). The RE:NEW Program aims to reduce electricity demand to 756,000MWH in 2020. The program looks at different funding mechanism to support these initiatives including a revolving fund whereby money that is saved feeds back into the fund. London’s mitigation strategy aims for over a quarter of it’s energy demand to be met from low or zero carbon local sources such as the London Thames Gateway Heat Network, the largest new decentralized energy development in Europe. Londoners will be generating their own low carbon energy through micro-renewable technologies such as solar panels as well as using waste to heat their homes, with all waste either recycled or converted into low carbon energy at London’s waste-to-energy plants (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 9). London’s emission reduction targets include reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2025 and at least by 80 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2050. Programs include the RE:NEW Program, an initiative to retrofit 1.2 million homes, by 2015 (the largest initiative of its kind for London) and the RE:FIT Program which aims to retrofit public sector buildings with energy efficiency measures. The RE:CONNECT Program involves delivering ten low carbon zones in London each to reduce CO2 emissions by 20.12 per cent, by 2012. The London Waste and Recycling Board is investing £73.4 million in new, clean waste management infrastructure, including energy-from-waste facilities to help London dramatically reduce its overall carbon footprint.
To date, the RE:FIT Program, London’s public sector energy efficiency retrofit program is delivering savings of £1 million per year from 42 pilot buildings. The program aims to retrofit every public building in London, prioritizing the buildings in terms emissions scales. A major opportunity for London to lead by example, 70% of the buildings will still be around in 2050. The GLA is committed to creating an enhanced Decent Homes Standard that would offer improvements and retrofits to the quality and environmental performance of social housing in London and lower the energy bills for residents.
The GLA involves the public at large in many different workshops and consultation events to engage Londoners around for example its Climate Change Mitigation strategy, a very technical subject. The GLA continually explores new ways to simplify the issues and engage the public in ways relevant to them. Twitter is currently used and has proven to be a successful technique to get the public involved.
The GLA is working with water and energy companies to deliver teaching material focusing on water and energy efficiency as part of the national curriculum. As well, the GLA is examining the water and energy efficiency of its school buildings, retrofitting these buildings and educating students at the same time, which helps to reduce the footprint of the home as well.
London is currently rolling out its first energy master planning exercise and developing and funding a range of decentralized energy projects across the GLA. The proposed London Thames Gateway Heat Network will be the largest new decentralized energy development in Europe. The Decentralized Energy Master planning program has been developed to offer a comprehensive package of resources to boroughs in the GLA, helping them to identify and develop decentralized energy projects. The London Heat Map is a web-based interactive Geographical Information System tool that helps to identify decentralized energy opportunities for the boroughs, generation companies and developers (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 93). The London Development Agency has created a team dedicated to providing strategic guidance, co-ordination of opportunities and support on decentralized energy to the public and private sectors (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 94).
The Renewable Obligation is the principal government program for delivering renewable electricity. Energy companies are required to generate a proportion of their electricity supply from renewable sources; renewable obligation certificates (ROC’s) are issued to show compliance. The Feed in Tariff (FIT) has been created as a financial support scheme to encourage the growth of renewable electricity capacity. The Government now mandates that energy companies purchase electricity from renewable generators for a guaranteed price significantly above the market rate. This helps to support renewable energy and gives micro-generation up to 50kW and renewable energy installations up to 5MW a guaranteed tariff for the electricity they generate as well as for their electricity sales (GLA, Climate Change Mitigation and Energy, 98).
Adaptability to Case Studies in Canada
The London case study highlights the following elements as essential to effective implementation of sustainability planning at the municipal level in Canada.
Developing an integrated adaptation and mitigation plan.
Political leadership through appropriate financing mechanisms, assessment tools, monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
Implementing cross-departmental sustainable development working groups.
Developing partnerships, creating a network of champions, and promoting a collaborative and flexible approach in order to deliver sustainability outcomes.
Engaging diverse communities through dynamic ongoing engagement processes, complimented by education and information programs.
Creating legal requirements to produce a number of sustainable development strategies.
Investing in a low carbon economy.
Developing public/private partnerships in the design and implementation of sustainable development initiatives.
Integrating sustainable development into overarching policy and decision-making.
Thinking about sustainability as performance management as opposed to becoming ‘green’.
- Could the RE:FIT and RE:NEW programs be implemented throughout Canadian municipalities?
- Should cities work together to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies?
- Can Canadian municipalities bridge silos by developing sustainability working groups that bring together city officials from different departments?
- Would it help Canadian municipalities to think about sustainable development in terms of performance management as opposed to being more ‘green’?
- How important is overall leadership to London’s success and in what ways?
- Are there emerging elements of a new governance model here?
Resources and References
Bioregional & Quintain. Compliant Proposal, One Gallions. Available: http://www.bioregional-quintain.com/doc/OneGallions.pdf. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
City of London. City of London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2010 Update. January 2010.
City of London. Adapting Urban Open Spaces. N.d.
City of London. Addressing Climate Change at Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve. N.d.
City of London. Addressing Climate Change at New Spitalfields Wholesale Market. N.d.
City of London. The City Environmental Forum. N.d.
City of London. The Clean City Awards Scheme. N.d.
City of London. Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. N.d.
City of London. The City of London Combined Heat and Power System. N.d.
City of London. The Considerate Contractor Scheme Environment Award. N.d.
City of London. Developing a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. N.d.
City of London. Energy Management in the City of London Corporation. N.d.
City of London. The Sustainable City Awards. N.d.
City of London. River Restoration – a Sustainable Approach. N.d.
City of London. Sustainability Policy. December 2009.
City of London. Sustainability Review 2009-2010. September 2010.
City of London. Tackling Climate Change in the City of London. N.d.
Environment Agency. Green Roof Toolkit. Available: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/91967.aspx. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
European Commission Climate Action. Available: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
Greater London Authority. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/climatechange/. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
Greater London Authority. Climate Change Mitigation and Energy. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/climate-change/climate-change-mitigation-strategy. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
Greater London Authority. An Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan for London. May 2009. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/archive/mayor/publications/2009/docs/electric-vehicles-plan.pdf. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
Greater London Authority. London Plan, Spatial development Strategy. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/vision/london-plan. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
Greater London Authority. Three Mayoral Strategies. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/shaping-london/. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
Greater London Authority. The Mayor’s London Plan. Available: http://www.london.gov.uk/shaping-london/london-plan/strategy/. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
Greater London Authority. The Mayor’s Vision for London’s Waste. January 2010. Available: http://legacy.london.gov.uk/mayor/environment/waste/docs/vision-jan2010.pdf. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
London Development Agency, JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas). Available: http://www.lda.gov.uk/our-work/european-funds/ERDF/jessica/index.aspx. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
London Development Agency. REFIT. Available: http://www.lda.gov.uk/projects/refit/index.aspx. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
London Leaders Programme. Available: http://www.londonsdc.org/londonleaders/default.aspx. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
London Thames Gateway. Regeneration for East London. Available: http://www.crossrail.co.uk/. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
Transport for London. Barclays Cycle Hire Initiative. Available: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
Transport for London. Turning London Electric. July 2010. Available: http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/assets/other/Turning%20London%20Electric%20Heather%20Watkinson.pdf Retrieved December 23, 2010.
URS Corporation Ltd. A Study to Determine the Carbon Footprint f the City of London. January 2009. London Sustainable Development Commission. A Great London: Making It Happen. London Sustainable Development Commission. N.d. Available: http://www.londonsdc.org/documents/research/Making_it_happen_scn_12Oct07.pdf. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
City of Portland, OregonCity of Portland, Oregon
Rebecca Foon, Director, Sustainability Solutions Group
Published February 24, 2011
Portland has had climate change action plans in place since 1993, and its most recent Climate Change Action Plan, revised in 2009, aims for 80% reductions in emissions by 2050. With respect to inner city transportation, its targets are for 90% of residents to use bicycles for short trips. Through an integrated design process for storm water management, eco roofs, cycling, green streets and green roofs and building design and redesign, they have adopted a systems wide approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation and the implementation of sustainable development. The City of Portland demonstrates a clear commitment and creative thinking through its volunteer programs, its public/private partnerships and its collaborative planning and implementation with communities. The city is committed to supporting community building throughout all of its sustainable development and climate change initiatives, unifying the city residents around the goal of becoming a leading sustainable city. This case study demonstrated the importance of investing in education and finding leaders and experts in their specific fields who can be community advocates, building strong community support for the city’s initiatives. Portland has also shown the effectiveness of using demonstration projects, monitoring and evaluation in order to get buy-in from multiple stakeholders. It has proven through its Green to Grey infrastructure developments, that there can be significant reductions in capital improvement costs through embarking on sustainable stormwater management projects (i.e. focusing on green streets instead of replacing pipes to address sewer back ups).
Sustainable Development Characteristics
Portland aims to reduce its carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels, by the year 2050. The city has an interim goal to reduce carbon emission by 40%, by 2030. Portland is looking at ways to make existing buildings more efficient, along with implementing better building guidelines and sustainable elements for new buildings. The city has completed an initial analysis of the benefits and possibility of introducing district heating to the neighborhood of North Pearl. Early estimates show the possibility of a 10-70% reduction in energy emissions depending on the fuel source used.
The city is also setting goals for inner-city transportation. The goal is to have 90% of Portland residents using bicycles for short trips, by 2030. To achieve this, the city is expanding its bike lane infrastructure. The city is also implementing a “20- minute neighborhood” idea that ensures long trips by car are not necessary for residents to fulfill their basic needs. Grocery stores, pubs, restaurants, drug stores, laundromats, transit stops, and parks are all to be included in each neighborhood in the 20-minute neighborhood plan.
The city is also developing a green stormwater management plan to improve watershed health and increase social capital by beautifying the city. Over the last 10 years, the city has closely integrated green with grey infrastructure, optimizing the system. Portland has a combined sewer system designed to transport sanitary sewage and stormwater. Much of the roof drainage is plumbed into the combined sewer system causing rainwater to over flow the system. In 1991, a 20-year plan was created to address the issue and will be fully implemented in 2011. As it is more cost effective to keep stormwater out of the sewer system, green technology has become a priority for the city’s stormwater and sewer system management.
The city’s green street initiative manages stormwater by removing the impervious surfaces along the streets of Portland, exposing the soil. Under this initiative, the city is bringing in additional soil. The city has already implemented this initiative to 900 streets and is planning to green another 900 city streets. The city has a Green Street Steward Program designed to engage and involve the public in the overall maintenance of the green streets initiative. The city also plans to have 43 acres of eco roofs on buildings by 2012 as well as to plant 80,000 new trees. The city’s Eco Roof Incentive program pays up to $5 a square foot to owners and developers. There is also a green building policy for city buildings, implemented in 2009, enforcing requirements for green roofs for both new construction and retrofits. Portland’s green infrastructure developments are multi-beneficial, benefiting the community (livability, street design, bicycle and pedestrian safety, health), watershed health, river health, and their integrated approach is helping to break down departmental silos.
Critical Success Factors
The strong support from neighborhood associations, advocacy groups, the Mayor, and local government has been critical to Portland’s overall success with its sustainable development agenda. The green stormwater management plan is successful due to strong citizen involvement and advocacy. The city’s regulations have been fundamental in improving the quality of the river and addressing storm water management in response to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits. The city has integrated improving the river health, stormwater management, and watershed health with green infrastructure projects. The city’s bureaus must monitor and report on their green initiatives’ progress annually. Demonstration projects are also regarded as a critical factor in obtaining city-wide support for the city’s various green initiatives.
A collaborative approach is integral to they City of Portland’s working culture, which helps to get sustainable initiatives off the ground. The city bureaus work together to enhance the overall success of the city’s green initiatives. For example, the stormwater management group brought together key players including senior managers from different bureaus to develop standard specifications for use across city departments.
Community Contact Information
City of Portland
Environmental Services Department
Community Outreach and Involvement Specialist
The City of Portland has a strong outreach program and continually refines its tools based on feedback. The Green Building Department gives 100 presentations a year to the general public. The department’s ‘fix it fairs’ are held in low-income neighborhoods to give workshops on simple retrofits. Portland also has a community outreach program to highlight its eco roofs and green streets initiatives; city staff reach out to public and individual owners to educate, motivate and gain their support. With residential buy-in, street parking has been reduced, which is an important factor for the success of the green streets initiative. The city works closely with Portland State University including collaborating with the Urban Studies Department to research and monitor the impacts of eco roofs and solar panels, as well as different community engagement techniques.
Through extensive modeling, the city has determined how much stormwater needs to be removed from its sewer system. The city’s disconnection program has successfully reduced the amount of rainwater entering the city’s sewers. Volunteer groups and organizations are disconnecting thousands of down spouts from houses throughout the city to allow rainwater to penetrate soil and flowerbeds. The city has been partnering with schools to create rain gardens and is looking into creating bio swells throughout the city’s parking lots. These initiatives have been extremely cost effective for the city as it allows sewer pipes to eliminate upsizing to handle rainwater runoff.
City officials consider it important to conduct on-site visits to each neighborhood to detail the actual landscape of the streets and note the site conditions including conditions of curbs, overhead power lines, the trees at the given location, and the adjacent property use. Gathering specific data has been instrumental in knowledgeably discussing a neighborhood’s needs with its residents, and developing designs under the green streets initiative, which make sense for the residents.
Solarize Portland is an idea that was developed through a neighborhood association in Portland. The community collaborated and, with technical assistance provided by the city, issued a request for proposals to install solar panels in the neighborhood. The community received a lower price by working collaboratively. Three other communities in Portland have now used the same collaborative process and installed solar panels.
Small Trips Portland is a program designed to help people learn ways to reduce their driving through outreach programs including telemarketing and door-to-door communication. This is a low cost program with a large impact, reducing single vehicle occupancy trips by 8-10%. A large cycling culture has emerged in Portland over the last few years.
What Didn’t Work?
In the beginning stages, city officials experienced difficulty in obtaining buy-in from the different city departments regarding the green stormwater initiatives, as it was an innovative and creative idea with which colleagues were unfamiliar. Officials needed to demonstrate the science behind the benefits and brought external experts with the knowledge and science backgrounds to the discussions on their various sustainable development and climate change initiatives.
In the initial design stage, the city encountered problems with individual green street designs. The city constantly monitors performance and modifies the green street designs, incorporating the best vegetation and planting designs. An integrated design process has been fundamental to the overall success of their green initiatives.
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
The city estimates it is more cost effective to keep stormwater out of the sewers than build new grey infrastructure, and therefore is prioritizing green technologies. Planting trees, building eco roofs, bio swales, rain gardens and creating green streets reduces peak flows in the city. Maintenance costs, however, can be expensive due to sediment issues and maintaining the health of the plants. The experience with the city’s green initiatives shows, however, that maintenance costs are lower than projected. There’s an enormous amount of interest in the city’s green initiatives from the public and people have been eager to volunteer. While slow to initially involve large number of volunteers, the city has now created a volunteer maintenance program, the Green Street Steward Program, which helps reduce maintenance costs. The combined sewer overflow controls projects are projected to cost $1.4 billion.
Portland funds its construction projects through revenue bonds (borrowed funds) and pays the debt service and principle on the bonds through the revenues from the city’s sewer and stormwater rates. Eighty-five to ninety percent of the capital improvement projects are funded by borrowed funds. The city’s green stormwater management initiatives are financed as part of the capital improvement program and funded as operational expenditures.
The city works together through both public and private partnerships to coordinate and manage the many different elements of its green initiatives. The Portland Development Commission provides funds towards major retrofits and new LEED construction projects. A green roof fund has been developed from the capital improvement funds, allocating $5 a square foot towards green roof development projects. The city is also trying to provide incentives for people to install swales on private property with city operating funds.
This case study was prepared using in-depth personal interviews with city officials from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and from the Department of Environmental Services, City of Portland. A review of government documents, literature and websites was completed as background research. Interviewees were selected based on their involvement and leadership in guiding the City of Portland through its sustainability initiatives. Open-ended interviews were conducted including questions concerning the city’s key challenges and successes with regards to sustainable development. They were also asked to provide insights into replicating similar models in the Canadian context.
Detailed Case Background Description
The City of Portland has a decentralized form of government. The Mayor and four other members of city council, each responsible for different departments, together make up the council and vote on ordinances to make the city laws. The Mayor designates who is responsible for each agency.
The Mayor’s duties are split amongst the four other city council members. Consequently, there in not one solely accountable; the Mayor does not assume all of the responsibilities. Coordination is a challenge as people report to different members of city council. Council approves any amendments or implementation of city legislation or city codes. The Mayor and the other four members of council each have a vote. Three to five votes are needed for an ordinance to move forward.
The city consists of 20 boroughs each with its own sustainability plan. The city has developed a climate plan and is committed to identifying better ways of quantifying land use planning on carbon emissions. Up until two years ago, the climate plan was the responsibility of the Energy Office (the first plan was created in 1993). Over the years, the Energy Office and the Waste and Recycling Office were combined, then developed into the Office of Sustainable Development. In 2009, the Sustainability Development Office and the Planning Office merged to create one office – the Planning and Sustainability Bureau with a staff of 110.
Portland has a collaborative and dynamic governance model, whereby different stakeholders and departments come together to forge partnerships and push sustainable plans and initiatives forward. Although Portland does not have a ‘sustainability plan’ per se, the city is a leading example of implementing major sustainable development initiatives and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. This illustrates that the city is committed to implementation, showing results, and pushing its sustainable development agenda forward quickly, while not loosing too much time in the planning stages.
Portland has a Climate Action Plan, revised in 2009, which builds on earlier climate protection plans from 1993 and 2001, and on the 2007 recommendations of the Peak Oil Task Force. Created in 2006, the Peak Oil Task Force is a citizen advisory group examining the impact of rising oil and gas prices on Portland and its residents. A Climate Action Plan Steering Committee guides the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. There are eight target areas that Portland is working within to achieve their overall goal of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The target areas are: buildings and energy; urban form and mobility; consumption and solid waste; urban forestry and natural systems; food and agriculture; community engagement; climate change preparation; and, local government operations. The plan outlines the total percentage of the city’s emissions each sector is allowed in order to move toward a 40% emissions reduction target, by 2030. By 2030, the consumption and solid waste sector will be allowed the highest emissions (35% of all emissions), and city and council operations will be allowed the lowest emissions (2% of total city emissions). The overall magnitude of emissions reductions, the scale of economic and community benefits, and the ability of local governments to facilitate the implementation process are key challenges the city is addressing. The city has not currently done an assessment of climate vulnerabilities nor created an adaptation plan. The city is experiencing drastic changes in precipitation patterns and the Water Bureau has undertaken extensive research around water supply and demands.
The City of Portland is committed to watershed health, improving water quality before it gets released to the treatment plant, stormwater management, floodplain management, salmon restoration, tree and native shrub planting and habitat enhancement. Through green infrastructure, the city is managing stormwater runoff at the source and removing as much water as possible from the combined sewer system. The city treats a large percentage of the street pollutants through its vegetated stormwater facilities or living systems (the first green facility went into the ground 10 years ago). New development or redevelopment over 500 square feet must adhere to the Portland stormwater management manual; this is now part of city code. The downspout disconnect programs diverts a billion gallons of water per year from the sewage system. The program has inspired community building throughout the city. Boy Scouts troops, schools and community members volunteer for the disconnection work. Some are taking it one step further by building rain gardens. The city has completed intensive modeling and is working closely with property owners to complete the biggest urban water enhancement project of its kind in Portland. Through the Private Property Program, the city works with property owners to build stormwater retrofit projects on private property.
Communication programs and media coverage on the city’s green initiatives, as well as door-to-door campaigns help citizens understand the various city initiatives and engage them. Bike tours, community events including build your own rain garden events, focus groups and school presentations are held. As well as art exhibits travel around the city’s coffee shops and art museums. The city works closely with the residents in each neighborhood on their green street designs and the residents choose the plants, trees and bulbs. This helps to create a collective feeling of ownership and commitment to the street project.
In 2001, the City of Portland developed a green building policy for city buildings requiring a minimum of LEED gold certification for new construction, as well as performance targets around waste and water. The policy has been updated over the past years. The policy has led to increased LEED certification with currently over 150 LEED buildings in the city. The Portland Development Commission requires all projects receiving city funding and urban renewal money to meet LEED silver certification. The city is working on a green building policy focusing on existing commercial buildings and is developing a benchmarking disclosure initiative to track energy and water use and waste generation of all commercial real estate. Through federal stimulus dollars, Portland is piloting a seed fund that allows homeowners to borrow low interest loans for retrofits and pay them off through their energy bill savings. Financing is available to qualified homeowners; 500 homeowners are currently participating in this pilot project. City plans include making this program available to the commercial sector as well.
The Portland Sustainability Institute, a not-for-profit organization, in partnership with the city, is currently leading a pilot taking green building to a district level. Through state, federal and community collaboration, the project is addressing stormwater, energy and transportation issues in five eco districts. The city’s goal is the development of district energy within the five eco districts. Portland State University has developed a district steam system, and the city has developed a methane digester (micro turbines) at the sewer treatment plant.
The city has invested heavily in light rail and, in 2001, added a three-mile line streetcar. Since the streetcar development, Portland’s local streetcar manufacturers have gone back into business. The city is focusing on creating walkable neighborhoods and is mapping various features of neighborhoods, taking note of where key streets do not connect, which neighborhoods do not have sidewalks, as well as land-use implications. The city is educating and informing the public on how density increases services and walkability; the city is currently engaged in a public process with community residents around creating walkable communities.
Portland is also committed to a five-year strategy to end homelessness (the city is currently in the third year of the strategy). An interim city-wide plan will be released next year.
Adaptability to Case Studies in Canada
This case study highlights the following elements as essential to effective implementation of sustainability planning at the municipal level in Canada.
Integrating collaborative and dynamic approaches and ensuring effective communication between government departments.
Integrating multiple efforts between government departments, while using one stream of funding in order to develop and implement sustainability initiatives.
Facilitating integrated design processes.
Ensuring on going public engagement and community outreach, helping to build community.
Integrating sustainable development into policy and decision-making.
Using practical demonstration projects to educate and inform the population, and to build synergies.
Bringing in community leaders and experts.
Ensuring ongoing monitoring and reporting of all sustainability initiatives.
- Can Canadian municipalities implement an urban green stormwater management plan similar to the City of Portland?
- Can Canadian municipalities benefit from collecting stormwater/sewage rates?
- Would it be of benefit for Canadian municipalities to implement initiatives like the 20-minute walkable neighborhoods initiative?
- In addition to managing rain water with impervious surfaces what other impacts could the city's green street initiative have?
- Portland has been thinking about and planning for climate change since 1993, what does this mean for the rest of the cities in North America in terms of being able to adapt to climate change?
- Is the target of 90% of residents to use bicycles for short trips practical? How could a strategy like this be implemented?
- How has the city been able to unify the city's residents around the goal of becoming a leading sustainable city.
Resources and References
City of Portland. Bureau of Environmental Services. “Ecoroof, Portland’s Ecoroof Program.” Programs. n.d. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=44422&. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Portland. Bureau of Environmental Services. “Portland Green Street Program.” Programs. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=44407&. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Portland. Bureau of Environmental Services. “Grey to Green.” What We Do. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=47203. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Portland. Bureau of Environmental Services. “Sustainable Stormwater Program.” Programs. Available: www.portlandonline.com/sustainablestormwater. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Portland. The City of Portland and Multonmah County Climate Action Plan 2009, October 2009. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=49989&a=268612. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
City of Portland. Clean river rewards program. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=41976. Retrieved December 22, 2010
City of Portland. Downspout disconnection program. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=43081. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
City of Portland. Ecoroof policies. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=44422&. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
City of Portland. Green street policy. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=44407&. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
City of Portland. Grey to Green initiative. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=47203. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
City of Portland. Private property retrofit program. Available: http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=50868&a=260702. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
City of Portland. Sustainable Stormwater management homepage. Available: www.portlandonline.com/sustainablestormwater. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
Sustainable Sites initiative. Available: http://www.sustainablesites.org/. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
Sustainable stormwater management program. Available: http://www.werf.org/livablecommunities/studies_port_or.htm http://hpigreen.com/2010/02/03/interview-with-portland-bes-part-1-of-3/. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
City of Sydney, AustraliaCity of Sydney, Australia
Virginie Lavallée-Picard, Associate Member, Sustainability Solutions Group
Published March 7, 2011
The City of Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia. In 2000, this port city of 4.5 million hosted the Olympic Games. This case study explores the process that led to the creation, in 2008, of the city’s sustainability strategy and plan - Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision, its strategic directions, its climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and aspects of its action framework.
There are ten major strategic directions that the City of Sydney, Australia is aiming to achieve by 2030, as outlined in its sustainability plan, 2030 Sustainable Sydney. The key areas include: i) creating a globally competitive and innovative city; ii) becoming a leading environmental performer; iii) integrated transport for a connected city; iv) a city for pedestrians and cyclists; v) a lively, engaging city centre; vi) vibrant local communities and economies; vii) a cultural and creative city; viii) housing for a diverse population; ix) sustainable development/renewal and design, and x) implementation through effective partnerships. Each key area was identified in response to a public engagement process focused around discussing the direction the City of Sydney should take to become a more sustainable city. Sydney is looking at expanding their cycling paths and networks. Their goal is to ensure that every citizen lives within a 3-minute walk to a continuous green connection for bicycles and walking. The City is also working to increase creative expression throughout the city by commissioning vibrant and engaging art and urban design and celebrating indigenous culture and telling the story of Indigenous life.
The city has claimed to be carbon neutral since 2008, through energy efficiency measures, purchase of green power, and carbon offsets.
Sustainable Development Characteristics
Sydney, its people and businesses, as with other major urban capitals around the world, are facing a host of challenges generated by external forces—from economic globalization to climate change, from petrol price fluctuations to competition for enterprises and creative talent. Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision provides step change progressions towards a more sustainable future, while protecting and preserving those aspects of the city that are valued and which underpin its medium to long-term potential. Global climate change represents a socio-political challenge, which Sydney, and other large urban centres, are facing in their future planning.
Sydney is simultaneously pursuing these challenges by aligning the city's work along these themes—Green, Global, and Connected. These themes have proven effective in engaging the City in developing its sustainability strategy and plan and in taking ownership of Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision.
Critical Success Factors
The support of the Lord Mayor, the City Council, and the Sydney CEO is considered one of the critical success factors leading to the creation of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision. Local leadership support was crucial not only to the development of the vision, but as well to the community engagement process and to the formal adoption of the vision, but, more importantly to its implementation. Asked to share a few lessons learned, one of the interviewees emphasized that local leadership “needs to own and drive the project as much as those who are developing its content…to manage expectations and remember that ideas travel much faster than projects can be delivered” (Interviewee A).
Another interviewee identified that support at the senior levels of both the political and the city arenas, and knowledge and expertise of city officials has been fundamental with regards to implementing successful projects.
Building partnerships and fostering opportunities for collaboration is an integral feature of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision. A key message emanating from this case study is to not simply listen to the community but to engage, challenge, debate, and honestly represent the community - especially on the difficult issues. By openly and consistently publishing all information relevant to the development of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision, the community was given the opportunity to own and support it.
Interviewee A also highlighted the importance of supporting city officials while keeping in mind that visioning is a change management process and that all change is difficult, thus the importance of coalitions inside and outside of organizations. Interviewee A also highlighted the need to consider what effects a visioning process has on the existing structure and alignment of an organization as well as the need to apply considerable resources to internal engagement. “Support the staff developing the vision project and consider that everyone in your organization will need to see how their day-to-day activities contribute to the overall vision (Interviewee A).”
Community Contact Information
Strategy Director, City of Sydney
+61 408 415 927
A critical aspect of the initial phase of Sustainable Sydney 2030 was a communicated and demonstrated desire for open and honest engagement on behalf of the authorities involved in the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision, with broad representation from the people. The city’s focus on engaging and sustaining a wide range of partnerships and community leaders was another key factor in achieving wide-scale buy-in and implementation of the city’s vision. A full spectrum of interested individuals and groups were consulted, making it the most extensive engagement process in Sydney's history. During 18 months of consultation, 12 000 people were directly consulted, the 2030 website received more than 15 000 visitors, and more than 2 000 comments were received through the city’s ‘Future Phone’ line. The city engaged the citizens, businesses, and community leaders through forums and events. The city has also been successful in addressing government silos by involving a variety of government sectors such as environment, health and infrastructure into their overall sustainability plan, allowing government staff and officials to engage with each other, and work together to prioritize goals and issues around sustainability.
What Didn’t Work?
Sydney has been particularly successful at building a network of support with the academic, business, residential, and other communities. This seems to have been a very strong way to move forward - not just a consensus of vision, rather a mutually reinforcing collaboration of interests. This may be stronger than a legislative-led approach but it is resource intensive. Interviewee A has pointed out “with a federal system of government, some of the hardest partnerships for local government in Australia to build, however, are with the national government which has not traditionally had a role in local issues or cities (despite for example, their contribution to the national economy). Perhaps an issue to consider is not legislating local collaborations of interest, but in how to develop national policies that have real depth and traction in cities (Interviewee A).”
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
The City of Sydney is currently beginning to address financial barriers related to its energy generation projects and various infrastructure investments. A long-term financial plan is currently being developed in order to further investigate the financing of these 2030 projects (Sydney has already invested $18 million to cut CO2 emissions by 20% by 2012 from 2006 levels). Other aspects of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision that have required large investment include the resources dedicated to community engagement (i.e. hiring consultants), developing various tools, fiscal resources, providing local government staff resources (time and expertise), and researching best practices.
The city also plans to increase its efforts in conducting community cost-benefit analysis to inform decision-making processes. So far, these analyses have been conducted on an as needed basis for particular projects. For example, in 2010 the city commissioned independent research to quantify the economic benefits of the proposed Inner Sydney Regional Bike Network.1
This case study is based on in-depth interviews2 with city officials and an in-depth literature review of government and city documents, in particular Sydney’s extensive online material available describing its experience in developing its 2030 vision. Interviews were conducted with key officials involved in the city’s approach to developing its sustainability strategy and plan, officials from the City’s Energy and Climate Change, Development, Cycling and Strategy Departments.
There has been a great amount of international interest in Sydney’s approach to developing a vision to be sustainable by the year 2030. In response, the city provides a wealth of resources (Council reports, tender documents, specifications, as well as official plans and strategies) on the 2030 Sustainable Sydney website (http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/). Online resources are easily accessible and have the potential of stimulating and helping other municipalities to replicate the Sydney experience. Finally, the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision project is a very recent initiative (2008). As such, new information is constantly being released and new success factors and responses to various challenges will continue to emerge as the City moves further into implementation.
Detailed Case Background Description
A key precursor to the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision was the process of developing Local Action Plans, short-term strategic plans between the city and local communities to improve and protect both the character and the amenities of the city’s communities. To date, approximately 85 per cent of the 415 community projects outlined in the Local Action Plans have been completed or are ongoing as part of the Council's operations. Local Action Plans were an important element in setting the scene for community involvement; they contributed to building citizen confidence in the capacity of the public sector to deliver on and implement requested community projects.
Another key prerequisite to the success of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision was the city's ongoing work with Professor Jan Gehl, a a renown architect, and his team. In 2007, Gehl Architects were asked to lead a public spaces and public life survey for Sydney. The objective was to inform citizens of the development of a public domain plan, which became an essential component in the development of the city’s vision and sustainability strategic plan. One of the goals of this urban design study and initiative was to help the city strike a balance between people, cars, and the built form.
Social and political pre-conditions necessary for the initial stages of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision have included a supportive and action-oriented local government. Other arguably relevant factors include a public sentiment that Sydney had not fully capitalized on the 2000 Olympics, and that the city lacked a vision for the future (Interviewee A). The state government’s perceived failure to address climate change in federal policy may have been another precursor (interviewee A).
Strategic directions, targets, project ideas and big moves
The Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision is composed of ten Strategic Directions, ten targets, ten project ideas and five big moves.
The Strategic Directions are the result of the community consultation process. Strategic Directions reflect the aspirations and qualities that the City must build on while serving as a framework for action to achieve the vision. Each Strategic Direction is further articulated through objectives and project ideas.
The Ten Strategic Directions are:
- a globally competitive and innovative city;
- a leading environmental performance;
- integrated transport for a connected city;
- a city for pedestrians and cyclists;
- a lively, engaging city centre;
- vibrant local communities and economies;
- a cultural and creative city;
- housing for a diverse population;
- sustainable development, renewal and design, and
- implementation through effective partnerships.
Specific targets will contribute to making Sydney more sustainable by 2030. These ten targets are the following.
- by 2030, the City will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and by 70 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050;
- by 2030, the City will have capacity to meet up to 100 per cent of electricity demand by local electricity generation and 10 per cent of water supply by local water capture;
- by 2030, there will be at least 138,000 dwellings, 48,000 additional dwellings in the City for increased diversity of household types, including a greater share of families;
- by 2030, 7.5 per cent of all City housing will be social housing, and 7.5 per cent will be affordable housing, delivered by not-for-profit or other providers;
- by 2030, the City will contain at least 465,000 jobs including 97,000 additional jobs with an increased share in finance, advanced business services, education, creative industries and tourism sectors;
- by 2030, the use of public transport for travel to work by City Centre workers will increase to 80 per cent and the use of non-private vehicles by City residents for work trips will increase to 80 per cent;
- by 2030, at least 10 per cent of City trips will be made;
- by bicycle and 50 per cent by pedestrian movement;
- by 2030, every resident will be within a 10 minute (800m) walk to fresh food markets, childcare, health services and leisure, social, learning and cultural infrastructure. By 2030, every resident in the City of Sydney will be within a three minute walk (250m) of continuous green links that connect to the Harbour Foreshore, Harbour Parklands, Moore or Centennial or Sydney Parks, and
- by 2030, the level of community cohesion and social interaction will have increased based on at least 45 per cent of people believing most people can be trusted.
Project ideas are meant to help deliver a Green, Global and Connected Sydney. The Ten Project Ideas are described below.
- a revitalized Western Edge: The 2030 Vision places a new emphasis on the Western Edge as a place of great future opportunity;
- three city squares as outdoor meeting places: A new civic meeting place in the heart of the City is created;
- protecting the centre: Rethinking the use of city streets to give priority to people and improve the public life of Sydney by making it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to move around the City;
- the celebration and sharing of Indigenous culture by ingraining knowledge, culture, history and stories to the public domain of the city;
- by supporting the City's identity with a Sydney harbourside cultural walking trail, Sydney will continue to offer internationally recognized, unique cultural experiences;
- a liveable green network that is a comprehensive network of safe, attractive and leafy paths across the City;
- a new town centre designed for people connects with local community life;
- a partnership project to deliver access to affordable housing for key City workers. This partnership involves all levels of government, not-for-profit organizations and the private sector;
- improved access to the neighbourhoods surrounding King Street, Newtown supports community life, the arts, retail and creative enterprise and the live music scene, and
- re-inventing the supply of energy and water while securing supply for the City with state-of-the-art gas turbine generation. By-products of this generation could provide greenhouse-free hot water, heating and cooling.
Sydney identified Five Big Moves to transform the city - these five moves are based on Sydney's understanding that economies of global cities, which contain diverse precincts and neighborhoods connected by high quality and dense public transport, are underpinned by creativity and innovation that takes place when skilled people mix in social, business and cultural activities. These five moves are:
- a revitalized City Centre at the heart of global Sydney;
- a liveable green network for walking and cycling;
- an integrated Inner Sydney transport network;
- activity Hubs as a focus for the City’s village communities and transport, and
- transformative development and sustainable renewal.
People and timing
From the start, Sydney decided that bringing the right people together at the right time and in the right place was essential to the success of the visioning exercise. The city's Strategy Director and the Design Director led the project from the beginning to its implementation over a three-year period. Overall, the strong support of the Lord Mayor, City Councillors and the Chief Executive Officer of the city factored into the success of the visioning exercise. Other stakeholders played a crucial role by championing and advocating for the vision including community leaders such as museum and theatre directors, university professors, business and non-governmental organization representatives, etc. As well, a highly skilled internal team of urban designers, economists, statisticians, architects, and planners and an external consultant consortium led by SGS Economics and Planning were involved in the overall visioning exercise.
There exist several formal and informal strategic partnerships and Memoranda of Understanding between the City of Sydney, the State Government, the community, and the three local universities. These partnerships cover a large range of sectors and domains. A few partnership examples are:
Tourism: The city endorsed the Greater Sydney partnership, a non-profit organization established to promote Sydney as a global city. The city is also supporting the Tourism New South Wales Sydnicity campaign. The city is also in the early stages of developing a comprehensive tourism action plan and a sustainability program for the tourism sector.
Governance: The City of Sydney's Advisory Panel, set up in 2007, and composed of architects and designers, provides advice on several development application and city projects. Sydney has also established a division to direct strategic policy relating to 2030 implementation and ensure actions concerning public domain design, city plan controls, urban renewal, sustainability, transport are integrated.
Cycling: The City of Sydney has partnered with 14 other councils to lobby the Federal Government for funding to develop a Regional Cycle Network, which will link more than 160 suburbs.3
Citizen engagement, first undertaken in 2007 with the Local Action Plan process, continued with the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision project throughout 2008. A full spectrum of interested individuals and groups were consulted, making it the most extensive engagement process in Sydney's history. More than 30 community forums were conducted during which approximately 12,000 people provided input.
Over a six-week period, the city’s sustainable plan was showcased during a public exhibition, which allowed visitor interaction and engagement and targeted feedback to the visual presentation. It’s estimated that more than 50 per cent of the 157,000 visitors to the public exhibition visited the presentation. Over 547 people participated in detailed briefings on the vision during the public exhibition.
Information on the 2030 vision was also placed in 19 Council venues across the Local Government Area while the Lord Mayor, the city's Chief Executive Officer and members of the city’s strategy team delivered a series of briefings to Local, State and Federal Government leaders, and business executives. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 website, highly publicized as one of the tools for citizens to stay informed and provide feedback during the vision exhibition, continues to be a key element of the engagement strategy.4
Following the consultation process, the 2030 vision was launched in April 2008 during a City Talks. Presented by the city, City Talks are forums designed to stimulate discussion on the urban environment. City Talks are available online in podcast and video format.5 The City Talks current focus is to explore how the 2030 vision can be delivered as well as how to engage international experts and to enquire into global best practices. City Talks are ongoing engagement activities, which will be maintained as a foundation to deliver the 2030 vision over the next 20 years and beyond.
The innovative community engagement methods used by Sydney were developed by “the internal project team in collaboration with the city’s engagement and communications division, and with input from the consultant consortium. The overall engagement program is considered to have been successful because it generated a broad and deep level of engagement,” advises Interviewee A.
Because each individual project stemming from the 2030 vision has its own engagement processes, the approach to feeding findings from the community engagement process into policy and program refinement varies depending on the project. A five-year review will be undertaken in 2013 of Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision, which will formally evaluate this process.
Sydney is also developing a long-term engagement strategy within a new regulated framework for community consultation by local government.
Overcoming government silos
Sydney continues to work to overcome government silos and to integrate sustainable development planning and decision-making into administration practices and the overall culture. Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision calls for integration, which is occurring at varying degrees. The city's corporate plan is currently being reworked to better integrate the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision. The recently created Chief Operating Officer position is tasked with reviewing the city’s systems and processes to help address government silos.
Action on climate change
The Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision sets the targets and underpins the justification for action against climate change. Community consultation indicated that 97 per cent of respondents wanted urgent action on climate change, which is why this is the primary theme of Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision. The city aims to achieve its C02 reduction target of 20% from 2006 levels by 2012 through energy efficiency measures. The City is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent over the next 20 years (based on 2006 levels). Sydney plans to meet 100 per cent of its energy needs from local generating systems. Projects to date include building retrofits, which have cut emissions by 17% in City buildings. Sydney has a pilot program for LED street lights, which if successful could improve efficiency of city lighting by 50%. The city is focusing on decentralized energy options as well as renewable energy with a goal to have 25-30% of the city’s energy needs supplied from renewables such as wind, solar, marine and geothermal by the year 2020.
The Green Infrastructure Plan
Eighty per cent of Sydney's greenhouse gas emissions come from coal fired power generation. To achieve a 70 per cent reduction in GHG emissions requires replacing the remote centralized coal fired power generation with localized energy sources. In December 2008, a blueprint of how to de-carbonize the city and make it sustainable by 2030 was drafted. This document is called the Green Infrastructure Plan. It comprises the following five Master Plans:
- renewable energy (renewable electricity and renewable gases derived from all forms of waste both inside and outside the city, including agriculture and farming);
- alternative waste treatment (increased recyclables and conversion of non recyclable waste into renewable gases using advanced gasification technologies which can be used for both trigeneration and transport - this would eventually replace natural gas by 2030);
- decentralized water (total water cycle management and a city-wide non potable/recycled water network recovering all water resources), and
- automated waste collection (connected to the alternative waste treatment in the city, and reduce heavy waste collection vehicles and emissions by 90 per cent).
The city recently approved the Trigeneration Master Plan and it is currently being presented to the community through a public exhibition. The trigeneration infrastructure is “by far the largest (about 70 per cent) and most economic of the green infrastructures which will allow the other infrastructures to take advantage of (60 per cent of the cost of implementing infrastructure is trenching so the remaining infrastructures will save this cost),” advised Interviewee B. It also provides the opportunity to implement a city wide recycled water network and an automated waste collection system to replace inefficient and polluting garbage trucks. The objective is to make the city locally self-sustainable as well as reducing emissions.
In addition to the Green Infrastructure Plan, the city is also implementing a series of 'show by doing' demonstration projects to reduce emissions from its own buildings and operations by a 70 per cent GHG reduction, by 2030.
From a national and international perspective, the City is placing all of its tender documents, specifications, Council reports, etc, into the public domain via a dedicated website ‘Powering Sydney – Making It Happen’, partly to freely share its knowledge with others and partly to manage the numerous requests for information from both the public and private sectors from around Australia and the world.6
Other legislative changes
A legislative change to support the city's sustainability planning included a liquor license reform in 2008/2009 as part of a city program to revive laneways and support small bars. This is one element of a broader initiative to revitalize the downtown area and create three linked city squares as well as a public transport zone with cycling and pedestrian infrastructure along one of the major arteries of the city. A grant program was designed to encourage new businesses to re-activate buildings that had been vacant for more than two years. It is estimated that this program generated a turnover of approximately $40 million and created 150 jobs.
Sydney uses a large number of reporting and monitoring tools on a regular basis. Relevant to Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision is the current development of two key organization-wide reporting frameworks.
The first, the Community Indicator Framework, aims to measure the wellbeing of the community over time and the effectiveness of the city's interventions. This project is being developed with the assistance of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, the McCaughey Centre at the University of Melbourne. The indicator framework is based largely on the Community Indicators Victoria (CIV) model.7 The CIV adopts indicators across 5 areas - social, environmental, economic, cultural and governance engagement. At this point, indicators for social, cultural and governance engagement have been developed, that are consistent with the objectives of Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision.8 The remaining indicators are to be developed by March 31st 2011.
The second framework is the Integrated Planning and Reporting model. According to recent changes in planning and reporting requirements introduced by the State Government, Councils in New South Wales have to prepare a series documents including a 10 year Community Strategic Plan, a 4 year Service Delivery Plan and a 1 year Operational Plan.9 These plans consolidate a range of other reporting requirements used in the past including, amongst others, corporate plans, social plans and state of the environment reports. The objective of this new planning model is to create reporting consistency across the state, improve transparency and accountability, increase the focus on sustainability and provide the opportunity for elected Councillors to be more involved in the planning process as the timeframes match election cycles.
Sydney Bike City
In April 2007, the Cycle Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017 was unanimously adopted by the City Council. This initiative predated Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision but fed very well into the subsequent 2030 vision. This strategy is Council's commitment to making cycling an equal first choice transport mode, by building a 200 kilometre bike network and by providing a program of social initiatives to address the barriers that prevent people from cycling. The target is for 10 per cent of trips taking place in the city to be undertaken by bicycles by 2016.
The development of the strategy followed a comprehensive analysis of cycling challenges and gathered input from Sydney’s cycling community. The strategy incorporated submissions made during the public exhibition period as well as findings from targeted social research.10
Progress on the implementation of the Cycle Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017 is reported on (at both design and tender stages for major projects) to Councillors, stakeholders and state agency representatives at the Cycling Advisory Committee. Bicycle infrastructure projects implemented to date include approximately ten kilometres of separated bike paths, the installation of on street bicycle parking rings and racks, provision of free cycling confidence courses and bicycle maintenance courses, promotion of cycling events, provision of bicycle valet parking at other city events and the distribution of 30,000 cycling maps.
Adaptability to Case Studies in Canada
The Sydney case study highlights the following elements as essential to effective implementation of sustainability planning at the municipal level in Canada.
Overcoming the inertia sometimes tied to government processes is achieved with high-level political support, high level management support and someone inside the organization with the knowledge to deliver specific programs.
Involving individuals with sustainability expertise through various partnerships and forums that aim to share innovative ideas and stimulate discussion on the urban environment helps to contribute relevant knowledge and important skills to the implementation of the vision.
Engaging the community in the visioning process provides the opportunity for citizens to own and support the vision from the very beginning.
Supporting city staff and ensuring that everyone sees how their day-to-day activities contribute to the overall vision is key.
Being consistent and ‘demonstrating by doing’ is both an engagement strategy and a requirement for success.
- What are the key findings extracted from Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision that are most relevant to Canadian municipalities and why?
- Could a visioning and community engagement process of a scope similar to that of Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision be implemented in Canadian municipalities? If so, in what ways?
- How critical were the right people coming together at the same time in the right place to the success of City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision?
Resources and References
Cadogan, Alan. Strategy Director, City of Sydney. Email correspondence. December 2010.
Campbell, Fiona. Manager Cycling Strategy, City of Sydney. Email correspondence. December 2010.
City of Sydney. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision Snapshot. Available at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/theplan/Downloads.asp . Retrieved December 2010
City of Sydney. Sustainable Sydney 2030 Support Document. Available at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/theplan/Downloads.asp . Retrieved December 2010
City of Sydney. Sustainable Sydney 2030, Vision . Sydney, 2008 (Online). Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/theplan/Downloads.asp . Retrieved December 2010.
City of Sydney. Cycle Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017. Available: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/documents/ParkingAndTransport/Cycling/CycleStrategyAndActionPlan2007-2017.pdf. Retrieved December 2010.
City of Sydney. Decentralized Energy Master Plan-Trigeneration. Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/makingithappen/documents/CityofSydney-DEMPTrigeneration-Report20101129-LowRes_000.pdf. Retrieved December 2010.
City of Sydney. Appendices: Overview of the consultation process. Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/documents/2030Vision/42_Consultationoverview.pdf. Retrieved December 2010.
City of Sydney. Progress Report Up and Running. Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/documents/3978_CE_FA4_2030_report%20card_A3%20Folded%20A4_web.pdf. Retrieved December 2010.
City of Sydney. Review of International Strategies Sustainable Sydney 2030 Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/documents/Sydney2030InternationalStrategies.pdf. Retrieved December 2010
Jones, Allan. Energy and Climate Change, City of Sydney. Email correspondence. December 2010.
Mcmahon, Tye. Strategy Specialist, City of Sydney. Email correspondence. December 2010. Prime Minister's Task Group on Energy Efficiency Issues Paper Submission. Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/makingithappen/AllanJones.asp. Retrieved December 2010.
1 Cycling related research projects are available at: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/ParkingAndTransport/Cycling/EcononmicResearchCycling.asp
2 Interviewees preferred to provide written responses to questions, which were conducted by email.
3 More information on cycling infrastructure is available from the progress report “Up and Running” available at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/documents/3978_CE_FA4_2030_report%20card_A3%20Folded%20A4_web.pdf
4 An overview of the consultation process is available at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2030/documents/2030Vision/42_Consultationoverview.pdf
5 Videos and podcasts of City Talks presentations are available online at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/podcasts/default.asp
6 For more information on this initiative, see - 'Powering Sydney – Making It Happen', available at: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/podcasts/citytalks/default/default.asp
7 For more information on the CIV model, see http://www.communityindicators.net.au/
8 More information on Sydney's research and approach in regards to community indicators is available at: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Council/MeetingsAndCommittees/2010/Committees/081110/environment.asp (item number 4)
9 More information on this process is available at: http://www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/dlg/dlghome/dlg_generalindex.asp?sectionid=1&mi=6&ml=9&AreaIndex=IntPlanRept
10 Information on the cycling social research undertaken by Sydney is available at: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/ParkingAndTransport/Cycling/SocialResearchCycling.asp
Malmö, Sweden: Integrating Policy Development for Climate Change and Sustainable DevelopmentMalmö, Sweden: Integrating Policy Development for Climate Change and Sustainable Development
Professor Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, Trudeau Fellow (2004), Royal Roads University, School of Environment and Sustainability
Published January 25, 2011
For more than a decade, the City of Malmo has invested in progressive climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives as it works towards its goal to be a world leader in sustainable urban development. The city has committed to becoming climate neutral by 2020, and by 2030 the city is further committed to energy use based entirely on 100% renewable energy. Malmö is advancing citywide climate change policies, adaptation strategies, education strategies in partnership with the local university, as well as recycling, waste management, biomass, and city beautification projects.
This case study examines the city’s sustainable urban development initiatives and climate change strategies, in particular the redevelopment of a brownfield site located in the Western Harbour District, and the revitalization of an existing housing and industrial estate, the Augustenborg District. A once decaying industrial area, the Western Harbour District has been transformed into a sustainable urban environment with its own energy supply, energy efficient buildings and residences, household, surface and waste management systems, and very few cars. An aging district from the 1950’s, the Augustenborg District has been revitalized into a sustainable urban environment with improved water management, green roofs, renewable energy and recycling projects.
Research revealed that the success of the city’s initiatives is based on a combination of statewide comprehensive legislative and policy leadership, innovative integrated design strategies, stable access to unique funding opportunities, educational programs, and commitment to multi-stakeholder processes that ensures community commitment and implementation. As well, since decision-making is located at the municipal level due to the high level of decentralization in Sweden, Swedish municipalities are able to directly implement projects uniquely designed to meet the needs of their communities, and have access to the necessary funding and political support for local projects.
Sustainable Development Characteristics
Climate change adaptation and mitigation is one of the world’s most critical socio-political imperatives. The need to connect the fields of climate change and sustainable development has been increasingly recognized by many experts and scientific panels (Swart et al., 2003). The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argued that sustainable development may be the most effective way to frame the mitigation question (Banuri et al., 2001) and a crucial dimension of climate change adaptation and impacts (Smit et al., 2001). And the linkage between climate change and broader issues related to population, lifestyles, environment and development is a constant theme in a recent state-of-the-art review of social science literature relevant to climate change (Rip & Kemp, 1998). Clearly, “integrated policy development may not only provide new opportunities, but may even be a prerequisite for successfully addressing both issues” (Swart et al., 2003: 819), as evidenced in this case study.
Critical Success Factors
Sweden is recognized as one of the most progressive countries in the European Union (EU) for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, policies and action. As early as 1991, the Swedish government introduced a carbon tax with the goal of eliminating the country’s dependency on fossil fuel, by 2020. It also developed its first sustainable development strategy in 2002, which included a suite of legislation and financial incentives available to municipalities to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation practices. The EU also provides funding for sustainable urban development initiatives, including funding for educational programs. A key characteristic of the Swedish government’s sustainable development strategy is the system-wide and integrated approach it encourages for the implementation of sustainable development.
Following the collapse of the Kockums shipyards and the closing of the SAAB plant in the Western Harbour, the city council and stakeholders seized the opportunity to develop a clear and well-defined vision for the future City of Malmö. Mayor Ilmar Reepalu calls the development of a vision rather than a plan a significant step “because it demonstrates that adopting a vision gets results.”
As consensus is intrinsic to Swedish policy decision-making, a multi-stakeholder approach was adopted for determining a new vision of the City of Malmö. Stakeholders agreed and committed to the city transforming itself into a centre for knowledge and an eco-city.
As well, the city’s continuing multi-project approach to achieving its vision is regarded by city officials as a major contributor to the progress the city has achieved in a relatively short time.
Community Contact Information
City council and stakeholders developed a clear and well-defined vision of what the City of Malmö should be within a ten-year horizon, i.e., a centre of knowledge and an eco-city. City planners then undertook a number of projects simultaneously designed to realize this vision.
Comprehensive coordination and cross-sectoral integration was critical to mitigating delays in project completion. As well, the multi-stakeholder roundtable developed a comprehensive framework of new sustainable guidelines that directed all project planning. Involving key stakeholders at the early stages was also successful in identifying novel ideas and energy-saving solutions, and ensured that stakeholders were well informed of the new policies and requirements.
The Mayor of Malmö was elected in 1994 and is a champion of sustainable development, thus, there was strong political support and leadership for the multi-stakeholder process that developed the city‘s vision and guided the revitalization and redevelopment projects. Interactive and iterative planning workshops were led with citizens, businesses, construction companies, and the respective government divisions integral to successful project completion.
City departments worked collaboratively on the projects; departments successfully bridged silos and stovepipes (Dale, 2001) that ensured ongoing inter-departmental co-ordination, as well as open discussion and communication on the project implementation. Sustainable development was integrated into every department’s policy decision-making, and there was strong interdepartmental co-operation between the environmental, the planning, and the property departments.
What Didn’t Work
Initially, the projected data for energy consumption and savings for the Western Harbour projects did not correlate to projected estimates after the buildings were constructed and operational as builders used different standards and methods for calculating energy efficiencies. City planners subsequently introduced uniform standards and measurement methodology to ensure consistent methodology for information gathering and reporting.
Education and information are seen as essential to successful adaptation. Initially, the city used two methods for educating citizens about the recycling, biking, public transportation, and other sustainable programs in Western Harbour. A website allowing citizens to email with questions or concern was implemented in 2000, however, the website did not see much engagement as daily use of the Internet was not as prevalent as today. The second method was to locate information officers in the city core to provide information about the new programs. Information officers, however, were in place for only the first year or two of a new program. After two years, the promotional information was no longer available to new residents, so in the early years, there was a discontinuity in the education and information. The city now uses a variety of methods to educate and inform both citizens and visitors to the city and to improve its citizens’ understanding and commitment to sustainable development such as educational materials in the local schools, a newsletter on greening issues, exhibits in the Malmö Museum, and an expanded promotional website.
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
The City of Malmö has access to a variety of financial grants and funding for adaptation initiatives from the EU or the Swedish government. Numerous EU-financed projects have been implemented in the city within the areas of technology and environment, culture, labour market, sustainable city planning, social issues and education. For example, the city accesses the EU’s Green Tools for Urban Climate Adaptation funding program for the installation of the green facades and rooftops in Malmö, which reduce the effects of flooding and heat waves caused by climate change. Over the years, the EU has also provided funding for educational and communication programs.
The Swedish government has various funding programs to accelerate sustainable urban development at the municipal level. For example, Sweden’s Local Initiatives Program (LIP) provides grants to mitigate local environmental problems. The LIP provides funding normally up to 30% of the project and is cost-shared with business and the municipality. Certain aspects of the Western Harbour and the Augustenborg projects were funded in part by the LIP, and cost-shared with business and the City of Malmö. Malmö also receives ongoing state funding for some of its sustainable development programs.
An extensive literature review was conducted of the Swedish government’s and the city’s documents, and website information. Semi-structured open-ended interviews were designed to identify how barriers were overcome, and to explore the social, political and financial contexts behind Malmo’s leadership in sustainable development. Interviews were conducted with officials from the city’s Environment Department and the Sustainable Urban Development Unit, and the Institute for Sustainable Urban Development.
Detailed Case Background Description
In 1991, Sweden introduced the world’s first carbon tax. Consumers are taxed on their oil use, while the application to industry has varied over the years (from partial tax to some industries being exempt). December 14, 2010, the Minister of the Environment announced that with 2009 emissions falling by a further 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, that emissions have now dropped by a total of around 17 per cent since 1990. This reduction has been achieved without affecting economic growth as the Swedish economy grew an average of 2.3% annually from 1990 to 2007. Decreases in emissions have been realized in the residential and service, agriculture and waste sectors and not in the industries or transport sector, which have increased.
While the Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren has stated that the “…carbon emissions would have been 20% higher without the carbon tax”, it is only one of the tools in the Swedish government’s sustainable strategy. The first National Strategy for Sustainable Development published in 2002 (revised in 2004 and 2006, and to be revised in 2010) describes the Swedish approach for integrating the social, cultural, economic and ecological aspects. The Swedish government supports sustainable development by means of economic instruments and legislation, and other various tools including planning documentation and methods for analysis and assessment.
Significant to this case study, the Swedish government’s sustainability development strategy encourages a holistic approach to spatial planning and not just the physical environment alone, and calls for engaging the public, business, civil society, organizations, and citizens in the decision-making, coordination, thus building on synergies. The government’s policy is that new urban developments and the revitalization of existing urban areas should be based on sustainable development and it provides municipalities with the knowledge, tools and financing to achieve this.
The City of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, is located in the southern part of the country, on the ocean and across the Oresund strait from the City of Copenhagen, Denmark. Completed in 2000, the Oresund Bridge connects the two cities with a twin-track railway and daily commuter trains. The City of Malmö is considered Sweden’s most culturally diverse city with over 170 different ethnic groups represented and has a population of approximately 293,883. Population growth is estimated at 50,000 annually and densification and social cohesion are concerns.
With the collapse of the Kockums shipyard in the early 1980’s, the local economy faltered, unemployment rates were high, and the City of Malmö searched for ways to attract new industries, create new jobs and revitalize the city landscape. The entire town, business community and associations, political parties, and other stakeholders were invited to join the city council in creating a vision of what the city would be in ten years. The consensus vision was to transform the City of Malmö into a knowledge and residential area, and eco-city, starting with the former Kockums industrial site. Now called the Western Harbour, this district of approximately 140 hectares would be transformed from a heavy-duty industrial area into a diversified conurbation with space for attractive homes, businesses, schools, service facilities, parks and green spaces. Emphasis was placed on incorporating the area's proximity to water and on providing all citizens with access to the sea.
The first knowledge transformation project was the completion of the new University of Malmö, located in the Western Harbour, in 1998 with an enrollment of 25,000 students. The first phase of urban development in Western Harbour started in 2001 with a residential housing demonstration project built to coincide with the holding of the European Housing Exhibition -- Bo01 Expo. This demonstration project of 350 apartments showcased a renewable energy system; all of the demonstration housing’s energy is produced locally. Building on the success of this demonstration project, the city has continued to introduce new forms of renewable energy over the years such as wind and solar power and ground and seawater heat extraction, in Western Harbour and other areas of the city.
All of the Bo01 houses were built to the standards set out in the quality program jointly established by Bo01 Expo, the property developers, and the City of Malmö. The program set guidelines for architectural qualities, sustainable choice of materials, energy consumption, green issues and technical infrastructure designed to ensure that buildings were built and continued to operate as sustainably as possible. The Flagghusen Quarter, the second large-scale urban development in the Western Harbour stresses environment, energy and quality aspirations, whilst incorporating affordability — demonstrating that sustainable construction does not have to be expensive. Flagghusen included two passive buildings i.e. buildings that are heated by warmth from human bodies, electrical apparatus, lighting and solar radiation. The goal is that 30 percent of new buildings constructed in Western Harbour will fulfill the requirements to be termed passive buildings. The Fullriggaren Quarter, the third urban development in the Western Harbour functions as a link between existing areas to the west, east and south to create a cohesive urban area.
Planned as a standalone community with close access to goods and services, the Western Harbour District has virtually no cars. Most residents park their vehicles outside the area and walk to their homes. Bicycles and pedestrians have priority within Western Harbour, and the harbour area can be easily reached from the other suburbs of Malmö by biogas buses operated by the local public transport company. Municipal regulation is designed to encourage sustainable transportation such as allowing free parking for electric cars while charging high parking fees for fossil fuel cars.
Significantly, the Western Harbour itself has been cleaned. Waste is no longer deposited in the water, and the harbour is now a public swimming area for citizens in the summer. Households sort their food waste, which is then sent to the local municipal waste treatment company where the organic fractions are digested for biogas production and the rest is incinerated for heat and electricity production.
Launched in 1998, the Augustenborg project was the revitalization of an existing housing and industrial district originally built in the 1950s. One of the key aims of the city was to involve residents as much as possible in the process, from the conceptual stage through implementation, to create a sustainable city district through consensus around the integration of ecological, social and economic imperatives. Each project required the commitment of the residents to succeed. Once implemented, projects were modified with the residents’ feedback on expectations and performance.
The Augustenborg residents identified housing as their key issue and the city worked extensively with them to identify the critical housing preferences and with architects and construction companies to identify solutions. Residents identified energy efficient and comfortable homes, areas with a lot of green space and nearby attractive outdoors areas as priorities. Architects worked directly with construction companies to retrofit buildings that met the city’s objectives of energy efficiency and the residents’ priorities and which balanced the built and the non-built environments.
To reduce recurring flooding in the Augustenborg District, a significant problem in the area and one of the contributors to a high tenant turnover rate, initially an open stormwater runoff system was introduced to divert runoff into canals and ponds. Canals, dams and ponds are now connected throughout the city and stormwater runoff is cleaned by natural flora before reaching the sea. The city now diverts 90% of the stormwater runoff into the stormwater runoff system.
Begun in 1999, the aim of the city’s green roof project was to produce a new method of managing rainwater. Augustenborg District now has 9,000 m2 of grass-covered roofs offering multiple advantages such as helping to prevent flooding by curbing rainwater runoff, cleaning the air, increasing biodiversity, and providing energy-saving insulation. Situated in Augustenborg, the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute provides information and inspiration for the inhabitants of the city, and other locales within Sweden and the EU to adopt green roof technology. The green roof concept has developed considerably since its inception in the Augustenborg District. Today, Malmö is currently the leading city in Sweden for investments in green roofs, which are regarded as an important part of the city’s efforts to create sustainable urban development and climate change mitigation.
The city works with a variety of stakeholders to achieve the goals of energy-efficient buildings, public transportation, an extensive biking infrastructure, and waste management infrastructure. City builders must consider and apply the ‘green space factor’ to nearly all projects. The green space factor policy has led to not only yards and gardens with lush green vegetation, but also the roofs and facades of houses are covered with plants that encourage bio-diversity, facilitate rainwater management and contribute to a pleasant, recreational environment. Municipal green space has also been designed and introduced throughout the city to the extent that the city is frequently called the ‘City of Parks’. City parks and green spaces are designed with an emphasis on natural diversity to allow for habitat for a variety of local species and the city has installed bird and bat boxes to help improve the urban forest and species environment.
In 2008, the Augustenborg District introduced a pilot to study separating food waste to make biogas. Today, there are 15 recycling houses in the Augustenborg District for residents to dispose of food waste and the district recycles 65% of its household and school waste for use by the local energy utility to produce biogas. The city is expanding its waste management infrastructure and renewable energy projects and has reached 70% of its 90% target to recycle all waste within the city.
The City of Malmö has received a number of awards and international attention for its sustainable development efforts. The EU named the Western Harbour transformation as the best example of a successful regeneration from a polluted, industrial town to a sustainable residential area of outstanding quality in the world. In 2010, the Building Exchange, a major European industry meeting awarded the city the Best Master Plan for Bo01 and the Western Harbour area. In 2009, the city received the United Nations’ Habitat Scroll of Honour for its efforts in sustainable development, and was recently awarded the United Nations World Habitat Award for its work on revitalizing the Augustenborg District. In 2009, the business journal FAST COMPANY ranked Malmö as one of the 13 most creative cities in the world.
The City of Malmö’s stated goal is to be climate neutral by 2020, and by 2030 the whole municipality will run on 100% renewable energy through projects such as wind and solar energy expansions, as well as increased electric public transport. Recently, the Swedish government made statements that nuclear expansion (up to 10 new plants added to the ones in existence) will be needed if Sweden is to achieve its fossil-free goal of 2020, which has other implications for its future sustainable development, with respect to the risk and management of used nuclear fuel.
Malmö sees its progressive environmental agenda as paying off not only from an ecological perspective but also from social and economic perspectives. The city now works with other international cities to share insights and information on sustainable development and promotes its expertise abroad. Malmö’s Western Harbour and Augustenborg Districts are key tourist attractions, contributing to a more diverse economic base for the city. International tourists visit the Western Harbour and Augustenborg Districts, its museums and other institutions for guided tours on how to build in a climate-friendly manner adapted to the environment.
Adaptability to the Canadian Context
This case study highlights the importance of the following factors for meaningful implementation and exploitation of best practices at national and local levels.
Developing a national vision and leadership across the country.
Creating a national sustainable development strategy, which includes goals and targets, establishes a legal framework to support the strategy.
Providing national leadership through appropriate financing mechanisms, assessment tools and reporting mechanisms.
Using a systems-wide approach to spatial planning for integrating the economic, social and ecological imperatives at multiple levels of government.
Engaging diverse communities through dynamic ongoing and iterative engagement processes, complimented by education and information programs.
Ensuring implementation at the local level through local autonomy.
Private/public partnerships in the design and implementation of sustainable development projects.
Integrating sustainable development into policy and decision-making and accountabilities.
Using practical demonstration projects to educate and inform the population, to build synergies, and from which to learn and adapt for the different areas of the country.
- Do cities need to create a vision like Malmö’s to implement projects such as green roofs, stormwater diversion, and green spaces? Are goals and targets necessary? What role, if any, does a vision, goal or target play?
- Are there any benefits for Canadian municipalities to adopt the City of Malmö’s sustainable development practices now rather than later?
- Does implementing multiple-projects accelerate progress towards goals? Are there potential hazards to this approach? What would be necessary to successfully implement simultaneous projects?
- Would introducing climate change issues into the public school curriculum be a critical success factor to achieving sustainable development? Are there parallels to be drawn to the education campaign against cigarette smoking?
- Does sustainable development expertise provide a competitive edge? Can it be exported?
I am indebted to the work of my research associate, Elaine Dale, MBA, and to the research assistance of Krista Gallagher in the preparation of this case study.
Resources and References
Banuri, T, J.Weyant, G. Akumu, A.Najam, L.Pinguelli Rosa, S. Rayner, W. Sachs, R. Sharma, and G.Yohe. 2001. “Setting the Stage: Climate Change and Sustainable Development.” Climate Change 2001: Mitigation, eds. B. Metz, O. Davidson, R. Swart and J. Pan. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom
City of Malmö. “Eco-Building.” Augustenborg Eco-City. n.d. Available: http://www.malmo.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Augustenborg-Eco-City/Eco-building.html. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
City of Malmö. “Education and Fairtrade in Malmö.” Sustainable City Development. n.d. Available: http://www.Malmö.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Education-and-Fairtrade.html. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
City of Malmö. “Energy Efficiency and Production.” Augustenborg Eco-City. n.d. Available: http://www.Malmö.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Augustenborg-Eco-City/Energy-effeciency-and-production.html. Retrieved October 18, 2010, November 10, 2010.
City of Malmö. Environmental Programme for the City of Malmö, 2009-2020. (Online). Environment Department, 2009. Available: http://www.malmo.se/sustainablecity. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
City of Malmö. “The Green City.” Augustenborg Eco-City. n.d. Available: http://www.Malmö.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Augustenborg-Eco-City/The-Green-City.html. Retrieved October 18, 2010, November 10, 2010.
City of Malmö. “Waste Management.” Augustenborg Eco-City. n.d. Available: http://www.Malmö.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Augustenborg-Eco-City/Waste-management.html. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
City of Malmö. “Western Harbour, Buildings.” Sustainable City Development. n.d. Available: http://www.Malmö.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development/Bo01---Western-Harbour/Buildings.html. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
MalmöVision. “Malmö in Brief: Population.” 2009. Available: http://www.malmo.com/thecity/malmo_brief/population.asp?Menu=City. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
Rip, A. and R. Kemp. 1998. “Technological Change.” Human Choice and Climate Change, eds. S. Rayner and E. Malone, Battelle Press, Columbus, OH, pages 327-399.
Smit, B., O. Pilifosova, I. Burton, B. Challenger, S. Huq, R.J.T. Klein, and G. Yohe. 2001. “Adaptation to Climate Change in the Context of Sustainable Development and Equity.” Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptations, eds. J.J. McCarthy, O.F. Canziani, N.A. Leary, D. J. Dokken, and K. White, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Southern Sweden Expo, Malmo receives prestigious UN-award for Ekostaden Augustenborg. 2010. Available: http://www.southernswedenexpo.cn/news/malmo-receives-prestigious-un-awa…. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
Swart, R., J. Robinson and S. Cohen. 2003. “Climate change and sustainable development: expanding the options.” Climate Policy 391: 810-849
Sweden. Sustainable Sweden – Progress Report and New Measures for an Ecologically Sustainable Development. (Online). Ministry of the Environment, 1998. Available: http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c4/29/70/52bece1b.pdf. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
Växjö, Sweden: The Greenest City in EuropeVäxjö, Sweden: The Greenest City in Europe
Professor Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, Trudeau Fellow (2004), Royal Roads University, School of Environment and Sustainability
Published March 7, 2011
This case study examines the relationship between political and social motivation and the realization of sustainable development at the municipal level. Specifically, it looks at Växjö, Sweden as a case study of success in collaboration, community engagement and political leadership in addressing the ecological and economic imperatives of sustainable development, blending politics and social inclusion.
The focus in Växjö shifted from one of environmental degradation in the 1960’s, to thirty years later being considered Europe’s greenest city following the municipality’s decision in the mid-1990’s to be a fossil fuel free city. Now, Växjö is routinely described in the media, and promotes itself, as “The Greenest City in Europe.” Växjö has a long tradition of broad institutional collaboration on environment-related initiatives, of taking the lead in monitoring its CO2 emissions and introducing policies to reduce these emissions in the city’s operations and within the its geographical boundaries.
Sustainable Development Characteristics
People migrate to cities for different economical, social and political reasons. In 1950, 30 % of the world's population resided in urban centers. By 2008, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. By 2050, the number residing in urban areas is estimated to increase to 70% of the world’s population (Population Reference Bureau, 2011). The increased concentration creates new issues, and added pressures on the urban environment including waste management, adequate water supply, and urban sprawl issues.
Cities can be centres of innovation, creating synergies where stakeholders can work towards new sustainable technologies and advancements. Växjö blended the relationship between politics, ecological health, economic advancement, and social inclusion. In Växjö, local politicians have a long history of including all three elements of sustainability: ecological, economic, and social, and using broad institutional collaboration to build upon the city’s experiences and strengthen local networks.
The issue of sustainability has remained entrenched in its society and at the forefront of the political agenda since the city’s first political declaration, in the 1990’s, for a fossil fuel free Växjö. This case study will detail the important link between the political and social motivation at the municipal level to foster this level of enduring sustainability success.
Critical Success Factors
Sweden is recognized as one of the most progressive countries in the European Union (EU) for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, policies and action. As early as 1991, the Swedish government introduced a carbon tax with the goal of eliminating the country’s dependency on fossil fuel, by 2020.
As consensus is intrinsic to Swedish policy decision-making, the City of Växjö’s approach of collaboration between the city administration and stakeholders, including its industry, citizens, not-for-profit organisations, and the university was critical to gaining broad support for its proposals. City politicians cite this continuing collaboration between the municipality, residents and business as essential to achieving their targets (Environmental Programme, 2010).
While political support and broad collaboration are critical elements of the city’s success, access to the necessary financial resources, especially in the start-up phase, was also essential. Securing funding is the most important challenge for local authorities, since most climate mitigation measures carry high up-front capital costs albeit initial costs may be realized over the life of the project. Sweden has developed a suite of legislative and financial incentives available to municipalities to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation practices. The EU also provides funding for a range of sustainable urban development initiatives, including funding for educational programs and demonstration projects. The Swedish government’s and the EU’s funding programs have been critical for the implementation of the City of Växjö’s sustainable initiatives.
Community Contact Information
Växjö kommun, Box 1222
Phone: +46 470-41 000
Växjö’s long history of environmental awareness at the political level, coupled with a high citizen awareness and involvement has created a culture where sustainability is at the forefront regardless of changes in political party. City politicians attribute the start of this history of political commitment and political unity to the 1960’s and 1970’s when the city was cleaning up its heavily polluted lake district. Young politicians educated on environmental issues worked with local actors to create a political environmental agenda that continues to this day (personal interview, September 24, 2010). The unanimous support of all political parties was an important starting point for the progress achieved in Växjö.
In Växjö, environmental education is integrated into early childhood school programs, and is offered to businesses and interested stakeholders through information sessions and programs provided by city council. By connecting its stakeholders through education, Växjö’s residents, community groups, businesses, politicians, and media have access to the same information and knowledge, reducing misunderstandings and miscommunication. Education is considered important in demand side management, necessary to achieve a number of strategies such as reducing tenants electricity use by 10% .
Education and information sessions on environmental issues have also led to a broad understanding of the economic, social, and ecological reasons about why city council and interested groups advocate for sustainable development programs. This in turn has created transparency for residents and business and support for the city’s budget allocations through its environmental management system -- ecoBUDGET, and understanding of the long-term economic gains that result from the high capital start-up costs of sustainable projects.
What Didn't Work
In the 1970’s and 1980’s when sustainable development projects were first introduced, broad understanding and support was not obtained. This led to a number of projects not being realized to the extent that they are today, such as passive housing projects and the expansion of district heating programs beyond the initial demonstration project. As consumers had not been educated on the benefit of goods being offered, there was not wide take-up on the services and products from the initial small-scale biomass plant Sandvik I; the project was not initially considered successful due to the lack of a consumer market (personal interview, August 25, 2010).
As well, city-owned companies were not investing in energy efficiency projects as the return on investment horizons for the high start-up capital costs exceed the private sector horizons of ten years or so. Investing in any energy efficiency projects with long-term payback horizons impacts on the city’s future plans to sell any of its companies to the private sector. As markets tend to work on short-term time frames, if city-owned companies switched to energy efficient passive housing and district heating projects, their debt load in the short-term would make them unattractive to the private sector, even though profits would be realized in the decades to follow (personal interview, August 25, 2010). This is something Växjö has not yet been able to overcome. “It is critical to a project requiring innovation, that the stakeholders take the time to understand and appreciate conflicting values, come to a common understanding of the goals in order to ensure full implementation of the ecological, social and economic imperatives of sustainable development” (Dale, 2001).
Financial Costs and Funding Sources
In 1997, the Swedish government allocated €600 million for local environmental initiatives under its Local Investment Program (LIP). The City of Växjö accessed the LIP funding for a number of its climate-related projects, such as the start-up costs of its expanded biomass plant for district heating and power, the Sandvik II plant. The Swedish National Energy Agency has also provided funding for the city’s projects, such as the start-up costs of Växjö’s biogas plant.
The EU provides financial support for national and municipal environmental programs. For example, SESAC (Sustainable Energy Systems in Advanced Cities), a €25 million program of which the EU provides €10.4 million funded the biogas and biomass demonstration projects in three cities -- in Växjö, Sweden, in Delft, Netherlands, and in Grenoble, France. As well, SESAC funded a project to develop an environmental management system – called the ecoBUDGET within these same cities, which was co-ordinated by Växjö.
SESAC has funded other projects in Växjö including energy efficient buildings and passive houses constructed from sustainable wood, biomass for district cooling, photovoltaics, pedagogic systems to educate residents in reducing energy use, and transfer of best practices. With these large programs financed by other governments, the municipality of Växjö has been able to budget for smaller programs such as municipal subsidies for buying environmental vehicles (2002 – 2004), the creation of the centre for biomass gasification established at Växjö University (2003), and continuous expansion of the city’s cycling network.
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency also provides finances to cities to describe what the city is doing to address climate issues, its goals and the actions to be taken under its local climate investment program (KLIMP). In 2004, Växjö accessed KLIMP funding to enlarge its cycling network, and to make public transport more attractive.
Information and insights were drawn from interviews, including with the current mayor of Växjö, city officials, and the municipally-owned energy company, VEAB. The interviews used semi-structured questions designed to explore the social, political, and financial context behind the claim that Växjö is ‘The Greenest City in Europe’. Another research objective was to examine how Växjö has overcome the barriers experienced by many municipalities attempting full-scale sustainability, and what worked and what didn’t work. Information was also gathered from official city documents and its website, and international organisations’ websites such as the United Nations, and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
Detailed Case Background Description
Växjö is located in the south of Sweden in the province of Småland and consists mostly of forests and lakes, with a small proportion of land used for agriculture. It is a regional business and trading centre, with a population currently of about 83,000 inhabitants. The population has increased steadily over the last decade.
The city is less than two hours by train from Copenhagen, and there are several daily flight and train connections to Stockholm. There are major industries and a wide range of small and medium-sized companies in sectors such as engineering, bio-energy, retailing, telecom, heavy vehicles, wood processing, furniture and IT, and a university with more than 14,000 students specializing in entrepreneurship, logistics, business development and bio-energy. Forests cover more than 60 % of the region and the forestry and bio-energy sectors are well developed.
The City of Växjö’s first environmental decision was taken in the 1960’s to restore Lake Tummen, as the water quality of the surrounding lakes had become an issue for Växjö’s residents, and its city council (Environmental Programme, 2010). The restoration of the area’s surrounding lakes continued through the 1970’s to today where residents enjoy and promote the recreation of its clean lakes. This could be considered a fairly early start on dealing with environmental projects relative to other European municipalities.
Following the oil crisis in the 1970’s, Växjö and similar cities throughout Europe looked for ways to introduce local, renewable sources of energy. The City of Växjö and the local energy supplier, Växjö Energy Ltd. (VEAB) saw the opportunity to use the local forestry industry’s waste – wood chips and shavings as an energy supply, and in the 1980’s Växjö started using this biomass to produce some district heating. While oil continued to be used to meet the majority of the city’s energy needs, over time, its use for district heating has now been reduced to 1% (Fossil Fuel Free Växjö – the Story, n.d). With such an early start in the use of biomass for heating, Växjö was in the enviable position of being able to immediately offer cheaper energy to its citizens when the Swedish government introduced its CO2 tax, in 1991.
The original biomass project, Sandvik I was expanded with the construction of the Sandvik II plant, in 1997. This plant is a combined heat and power plant that uses biomass on a larger scale than the original demonstration project. City officials regard the biomass energy plant as one of its most successful renewable energy projects. The energy generated provides electricity, and 90% of the city’s heating and hot water needs. There are also smaller district heating plants built between 1997 and 2000 outside of the city core, which produce heat only. Other renewable energy measures aimed at attaining a fossil fuel free status have been subsidies for rural residents to convert from electric heating or oil burners to heating with wood pellets. Again, the strategy has been to take advantage of the region’s strengths – a readily-available input.
City officials cite a number of regional characteristics that led up to the first biomass plant project – an entrepreneurial culture in the region, independence from the Swedish government, and a solutions approach to problems and to trying new ideas. After the 1970’s oil crisis, city officials did not want to be dependent on outside sources for their primary source of energy. With the second global oil crisis in the 1980’s, the city began to look at more sustainable and domestic sources of fuel and was in the fortunate position of being surrounded by woodlots. By using the waste from the surrounding mills, Växjö addressed the issue of environmental waste from the mills, and used it in a sustainable and environmentally beneficial way. The construction of the later large-scale biomass plant, Sandvik II, also created jobs for locals, and ensured that Växjö is not dependent on outside sources for district heating and power needs.
When Agenda 21, the United Nations program for sustainable development was created in 1992, Växjö’s decision-makers decided the city should take a leading role in sustainable development. In 1993, Sweden ratified the UN Climate Convention and that same year, Växjö approved an environmental policy and started monitoring its carbon dioxide emissions per capita (The City of Växjö – a successful sustainable energy programme in Sweden, 2003). An Agenda 21 strategy was adopted in 1999, that was the result of a broad collaboration between the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), city council and other local actors in Växjö.
Starting in 1995, the city worked with the SSNC to develop a series of environmental projects and to position itself uniquely as a leader. There was ongoing dialogue over three years between the SSNC, city staff, and politicians as well as numerous roundtables were held with business, non-governmental organisations and residents for their input and to gain broad support. Using its entrepreneurial expertise, analysis was also conducted on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). The city considered that it was well positioned to take a lead role given its early experience with biomass for the production of heat and power and the local university’s biomass research. In dialogue with SSNC, a link was made between local work on a global problem and the city made its first pronouncement, in 1996, that it would be a fossil fuel free city (although no ’by date’ was indicated this first time) and that CO2 emissions should be reduced by 50 % per capita by 2010 compared to 1993 levels (Fossil Fuel Free Växjö, The Story, n.d.). This early pronouncement attracted media attention and Växjö started to be regarded as perhaps Europe’s greenest city.
In 2006, Växjö developed its first enviromental programme, using ecoBUDGET, an environmental management system used to manage natural resources and municipal budgets, which Växjö piloted with other municipal partners, in 2003. Växjö acted as the coordinator for this EU-funded project to demonstrate ecoBUDGET at a local level in three cities -- in Växjö, Sweden, in Delft, Netherlands, and in Grenoble, France. EcoBUDGET provides local authorities with a model for annually tracking environmental resource consumption. Although strictly non-monetary in nature, ecoBUDGET tracks environmental spending (the use, degradation or destruction of natural resources) in the same way a financial budget tracks financial spending. Based on measurable physical indicators spanning different environmental areas or issues, the system requires short and long-term target setting as well as collaboration between different municipal departments. Common ecological indicators have been set by the city administration, and for all boards and municipally-owned companies. Evaluations are conducted every 6 months and linked to the economic budget reporting.
In addition to its initial biomass and renewable energy projects aimed at achieving its goal to be completely fossil fuel free, the city continues to introduce other energy-related projects such as energy efficient street lightning, energy efficient building/construction, energy reduction by consumers, solar panels, more cycle paths, environmentally friendly cars, free parking to energy efficient cars, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of buildings, subsidies to homeowners for solar panels, free energy advice to residents with 2000 consultations per year (The City of Växjö – a successful sustainable energy programme in Sweden, n.d.), biofuels in public transport with expansion planned for 2013, and has taken actions to improve bus use.
Växjö’s environmental programme of 2006 had set a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2010, from 1993 levels. By 2008, emissions had been reduced by 35% per inhabitant while economic growth had increased by 69% (Environmental Programme, 2010). Sweden, and its municipalities such as Växjö, have decoupled economic development and CO2 emissions reduction.
While projects such as the biomass plant have created jobs in Växjö, its reputation as “The Greenest City in Europe” and its leadership and expertise in bioenergy have also given it a regional competitive edge; its efforts help to develop new economic development opportunities such as exporting, and creating new jobs locally. The BioEnergy Smaland – Expo Växjö project started in 2003 built a cluster of Swedish bioenergy technology expertise for export. Växjö also conducts technical tours of its projects, and provides its expertise to other municipalities. An investment grant of €18 million from the Swedish Ministry of Environment in the early 2000’s, in turn leveraged €17 million in new investments in local private and public organisations. Växjö regards its leadership role taken in 1996 as directly contributing to the development of these new economic opportunities and its success in attracting EU funding for various projects (City of Växjö – a successful sustainable energy programme in Sweden, n.d.).
Växjö’s environmental programme, which was revised and approved by city council in 2010, has three visions: Living Life, Our Nature, and Fossil Fuel Free Växjö. The vision of a fossil fuel free Växjö is that its energy consumption does not lead to any climate effect. Continuing to be a leader in the field, the city continues to set targets that are more ambitious than those in the national legislation (Environmental Programme, 2010).
The overall targets in the city’s 2010 update to its environmental programme continue to be to cease using fossil fuels and use energy efficiently. The 2010 update sets new targets for 2015 as the following.
- Consumption of electrical energy shall be reduced by at least 20 % per inhabitant from 1993 to 2015.
- Cycle traffic in the City of Växjö shall increase by at least 20 % by 2015 from 2004.
- Public transport as part of city traffic shall increase by at least 20 % per town inhabitant and for country traffic by at least 12 % per county inhabitant from 2002 to 2015.
- Energy consumption shall be reduced by 15 % per inhabitant between 2008 and 2015.
The strategy for a fossil fuel free Växjö has consistently included initiatives aimed at changing the behaviour of its residents. Acknowledging that changing people’s behaviour is difficult if it involves financial sacrifice and a change in lifestyle, the city seeks ways to make it easier for its residents to live without fossil fuels, for example by providing cheap and convenient district heating, attractive public transport and good walking and cycling paths (Environmental Programme, 2010). The 2010 environmental programme also reports on its performance in key areas, as of 2008, and includes budget indicators and concrete follow-up indicators.
The city routinely holds information meetings, has created a comprehensive website with the city’s goals clearly outlined, and introduces new information sessions based on lessons learned such as eco-driving lessons to its employees and citizens. A citizen survey is conducted bi-annually on environmental and sustainability awareness. City officials report seeing a significant increase each year in the participation rate, and in the level of sustainability awareness (personal interview, August 25, 2010).
As well as receiving media attention for its efforts, Växjö has received international awards for its achievements. For example, in 2000, Växjö was awarded the international environmental award for excellent atmospheric protection, and in 2007 was awarded the EU’s inaugural Sustainable Energy Europe Award.
The city also participates in numerous partnerships with other international environmental actors. Växjö is affiliated with a number of networks including; the Covenant of Mayors, Energy Cities, ICLEI, IDA International DME Association, REVES, Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign, Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), Climate Neutral Network, and National Network, Climate Municipalities.
Adaptability to Case Studies in Canada
This case study highlights the importance of the following factors for meaningful implementation and exploitation of best practices at national and local levels:
providing national leadership through appropriate financing mechanisms, assessment tools and reporting mechanisms;
engaging diverse communities through dynamic ongoing and iterative engagement processes, complimented by education and information programs;
ensuring implementation at the local level through local autonomy;
clearly identifying a niche (access to woodlot waste) and optimizing its contribution to sustainable development, and
integrating sustainable development into policy and decision-making, municipal budgeting, and accountabilities.
- Växjö’s city politicians and officials regard the international recognition of its early leadership role and its expertise/experience in renewable energy projects as reason for its initial and continuing success in accessing Swedish and EU funding over the years. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to being a leader in this field?
- Växjö cites broad political, business, organisational, and citizen support as essential to its success. What role does institutional collaboration play in sustainability success?
- Is political leadership necessary to begin, and successfully implement sustainable initiatives at the municipal level?
- What role does education play in obtaining public support for sustainable initiatives that are a cost to the taxpayer?
- What is the interplay between paying increased taxes for sustainable initiatives and demand management (behaviour modification)?
I am indebted to the work of my research associate, Elaine Dale, MBA, and to the research assistance of Krista Gallagher in the preparation of this case study.
Resources and References
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“The City of Växjö – a successful sustainable energy programme in Sweden.” unep.org. United Nations Environmental Program. n.d. Available: www.unep.org/GC/GCSS-IX/Documents/Swedish-1A.pdf. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
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