Let investments in sustainable cities be value drivers

29 September 2016
Climate adaptation comes with a cost, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. And the projects can be carried out in a way so they create value.


Thomas R. Vetrano

President and Managing Director, Environment & Health
T: +1 973 286 4260

By Sarah Katz and Michael Rothenborg

“Done right, investments in city infrastructure become value drivers instead of cost drivers”.

That was the key message from Ramboll CEO Jens-Peter Saul at a Seminar on Wednesday in Washington arranged by the Danish foreign ministry on how companies can make cities sustainable.

Jens-Peter Saul was one of three high level panelists at the seminar that is part of a large business delegation to USA, headed by the Danish crown prince.

Jens-Peter Saul referred to the record-breaking devastating cloudburst that the City of Copenhagen was hit by in 2011 – where the total material damage was more than EUR 800 million.

“Calculations have shown that acting quickly and applying a holistic approach to climate adaptation will save Copenhagen up to EUR 670 million”, Jens-Peter Saul pointed out.

The Copenhagen cloudburst master plan which is now being implemented – with Ramboll as a close collaboration partner - is based on a few main principles. The main one being to keep the water on the surface and control it – and thus gaining new blue-green recreational areas - rather than making large expensive pipe extensions underground.

Socio-economic study for New York

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has been inspired by the Copenhagen case and has selected Ramboll to conduct a best practice socio-economic study on cloudburst resiliency planning.

“Climate investments can bring substantial added value in health, welfare and urban liveability if cities take an innovative approach to the challenge – as Copenhagen and other Nordic cities have done and as cities such as New York are starting to do. Then, investments in city infrastructure become value drivers instead of cost drivers”, Jens-Peter Saul said.

He added that we need to see smart technologies not as a goal in itself, but as an enabler to choose smart solutions and to become more sustainable and liveable. And that smart cities is also about smart, more effective governance, where you work across all city departments, and break down silos.

Cities as climate drivers

At the seminar Brendan Shane, C40 Regional Director for North America, gave a speech about the importance of cities as part of the implementation of the goals enshrined in the Paris climate agreement.

More than 60 Danish companies have signed up for the business delegation’s trip to Washington and Boston in the run up to the presidential election in November. Ramboll is participating with a strong agenda on sustainability as well as dedicated sessions on Sustainable Cities, Water and District Energy.


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