Federation for
Housing and

Making Cities Climate Resilient

Mounting climatic stresses are enabling cities to become climate resilient through the adoptance of integrated, multi-functional and robust urban solutions. Safe guarding citizens from climatic pressures is no longer only about flood barriers and emergency infrastructure, it’s an opportunity to provide liveable and green cities.

Members take on Making Cities Climate Resilient

We asked our members about the agenda ‘Making Cities Climate Resilient’. Check out their experiences below, explore best practise and join the dialogue.

Anne Skovbro, Director, City of Copenhagen.

With climate resilience you often start with the fact that we are doing it because we are just nice people! Nice to nature and so on! But I think it is important to understand that climate resilience is also a good business case. In Copenhagen we have worked to improve the sewage system and clean the harbour, we have made it possible to swim there. It all started with the technical stuff… then, once that was done we could add the interesting stuff, the liveability! When you work with this resilience approach you can suddenly add new solutions which bring an extra quality to the city.”


Case examples

1. Saint Kjeld’s Neighbourhood, Copenhagen

The Danish capital Copenhagen, like many cities around the world, is facing a growing number of challenges related to climate change. One of the most urgent is the increasing frequency and extremity of rainfall, otherwise known in Denmark as cloudburst events.


In 2011 Copenhagen experienced heavy flooding following periods of intense rainfall. With estimated damage costs of 9 billion DKK, Copenhagen was prompted to develop its citywide strategy on climate resilience and adaption. In coordination with the European Aqua Add platform St Kjeld’s neighbourhood, a once unremarkable city neighbourhood has become one of the world’s leading examples in technical and civic led climate resilient design.


The neighbourhood, located in the Østerbro region of Copenhagen is primarily a quiet residential quarter with St Kjeld’s square, an 8,000sqm roundabout come parking lot at its core. Local citizens, in partnership with Copenhagen’s municipality and architects Tredje Natur have helped bring numerous climate resilient projects forward, not only safe guarding themselves from future flood events but creating more attractive, accessible and liveable communal spaces.


To minimise the financial costs associated with upgrading the areas subsurface sewage and water handling systems, solutions were developed to deal with rainfall at street level. This vision included that 20% of the neighbourhoods surface area should be converted into green cover, helping manage 30% of daily rainfall locally, avoiding the sewage system altogether. This materialised into 50,000sqm of converted road surface into green corridors, rain gardens, front gardens and street trees. Through the assessment of surface type, building profile, water flow, light, shadowing and noise, architects and engineers replaced asphalt with nature, helping to delay rainfall run off and provide recreational street space. In addition, existing green spaces and courtyards were mapped to form linking corridors between housing and streets, helping channel water away from vulnerable basements. Parking spaces were moved to shaded areas and facilities for biking and pedestrians were incorporated into the new design. Remaining areas of the neighbourhood are set to complete their climate resilient transition by 2016.


>> Tredje Natur

>> Municipality description on Klimakvater

>> Copenhagen Solution’s Presentation


2. Chicago City Hall Heat Island Reduction, Chicago

In 1995 a particularly extreme heatwave struck the US city of Chicago. In just 5 days over 700 residents died, many of whom lived in low income central city areas. Low winds, stagnant air and the urban heat island effect led to nocturnal indoor temperatures exceeding 32 °C. The extremity of the heat wave catalyzed the creation of the Urban Heat Island Initiative Pilot Project.


Under the initiative Chicago’s City Hall moved to tackle heat exposure and rising energy costs through the installment of a 2000sqm green roof. The roof includes over 20,000 plants of 150 different varieties, many native of the local area, and even 2 trees. Results have shown that the roof’s summer surface temperatures have reduced by 30°C, storm water runoff has decreased by 60% and building energy costs are down by 5000 USD a year. More so, the roof now provides a surplus cooling effect, helping cool the local microclimate and surrounding buildings.


Driven by the success of the City Hall, Chicago has taken to green roofs like ducks to water. Now 3.2 million sqm of green roofs have been installed, increasing the retention of water and dissipation of extreme heat across the city.


>> Chicago’s City Hall Green Roof


More Climate Resilient cases


IFHP best Climate Resilient reads


>> Judith Rodin (2015) The Resilience Dividend: Managing disruption, avoiding disaster, and growing stronger in an unpredictable world

>> Leonie Pearson et al (2013) Resilient, Sustainable Cities: A Future

>> Jeffrey Raven (2011) Cooling the Public Realm: Climate-Resilient Urban Design

>> Sustainable and Resilient Communities: A Comprehensive Action Plan for Towns, Cities, and Regions (2011) Andres Duanay



>> Arup/The Rockefeller Foundation (2014) City Resilience Framework

>> Josef Jabereen (2013) Planning the resilient city: Concepts and strategies for coping with climate change and environmental risk

>> World Bank (2009) Climate Resilient Cities

>> Carmin et al (2009) Planning Climate Resilient Cities: Early Lessons From Early Adaptors

>> Thomas Tanner et al (2009) Urban Governance for Adaptation: Assessing Climate Change Resilience in Ten Asian Cities

>> Various downloads International Institute for Environment and Development

>> ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Resilient City Library