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Citizens vote on climate change adaptation options


Detailed description of the Good Practice

The scenario workshop method off ers a way of learning by doing and is a great example of a deliberative political process. In Kalundborg, Denmark the method was used to develop and decide on climate change adaptation options.

The municipality of Kalundborg is situated on Sjælland island in Denmark and has some 20 000 inhabitants. The area is characterized by a large, low-lying area on the coast, consisting of summer cottages, permanent habitation, agriculture and nature resorts. Having coastline, lowlands and delicate areas with delta-like characters, the area is threatened by the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions,
rising sea level and changes in precipitation. Furthermore, infrastructure as well as ground and surface water quality can be aff ected by these changes.

In March 2011, the municipality of Kalundborg together with the Danish Board of Technology (DBT) hosted a citizen summit where 350 local citizens discussed how Kalundborg should adapt to a future with a warmer climate. Changes in precipitation, flood patterns, storm surges and rising sea level will affect the municipality in different ways and many houses, summer cottages and farm land are increasingly at risk of being flooded. To address this situation Kalundborg is currently developing a climate change adaptation strategy.

citizen participation
stakeholder involvement
climate change
climate change adaptation

Objectives of the Good Practice

To develop new adaptation options and to decide on different options in a democratic way.

Participants of the Good Practice

The City Council of Kalundborg, citizens of Kalundborg

Target group of the Good Practice

Citizens, the City Council of Kalundborg

Funding of the Good Practice

The process is part of the BaltCICA project, partly financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund).

More Details of the Good Practice

In Kalundborg, a municipal climate adaptation strategy with clear political priorities is now in the making. This has emerged through a transparent decision-making process involving both stakeholders and citizens in the municipality.

First, local stakeholders were presented with possible climate and flooding scenarios for the Kalundborg case area. On this basis, they developed different solutions to the challenges at a scenario workshop. Local politicians were also consulted and alternative political choices and options identified. Environmental and socioeconomic consequences of these choices and options were estimated and presented at a citizen summit to 350 local citizens, which were selected to reflect the demographic diversity in the municipality. Prior to the summit, the citizens were provided with relevant information material and were then introduced to the pros and cons of different adaptation options. Finally, the citizens discussed and voted on those options.

Two-thirds voted to phase out the current land use (such as farmland and summer cottages) in the most threatened non-urban areas of the municipality and turn them into wetlands, rather than building dikes. 90% of the citizens wanted the municipality to act now and make long-term plans based on climate change scenarios. The participatory nature of the decision-making process allowed local politicians to make more extensive decisions than they might otherwise have felt comfortable making.

Documentation and documents

Available files

Contact details

Søren Gram,
The Danish Board of Technology,

Data sources and references