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Economic and legal responsibility for climate change damages


Detailed description of the Good Practice

The City of Bergen is located at the west coast of Norway, directly facing the North Sea. Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, with about 250 000 inhabitants. Climatically, Bergen has a very exposed position, and the Bergen population is used to continuous as well as heavy downpour, strong wind, river flooding, landslides and high waves. With future climate changes, these challenges are predicted to intensify, and in addition, Bergen will have to cope with en estimated sea level rise of about 1 meter over the next 100 years.

Among Norwegian cities, Bergen is in front regarding climate change adaptation. Within the BaltCICA project, the economic and legal responsibility for climate change damages has been evaluated in Bergen. The Bergen region is characterised by fjords, mountains and islands. Annual precipitation is expected to increase by 25–30 percent over the next 50 years. The sea level is expected to rise by approximately 75 centimetres and the storm surge level may increase up to 221–276 centimetres by 2100. Such changes will have devastating impacts on the city’s infrastructure, transport system and tunnels, buildings and sewage system. They also highlight questions of economic and legal responsibility.

climate change
climate change adaptation

Objectives of the Good Practice

To develop new adaptation options for climate change,
to coordinate and establish routines for knowledge sharing and learning across municipal sectors and between the municipality and other stakeholders,
to identify areas that were not yet covered by Bergen’s vast adaptation strategy (cost and responsibility issues and cooperation between municipality and developers).

Participants of the Good Practice

Researchers, local regional and national administration, other stakeholders such as businesses and NGOs

Funding of the Good Practice

Activities are part of the BaltCICA project, partly financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund).

More Details of the Good Practice

Bergen participates in several climate change projects in order to build knowledge about local climate models, registration of climate vulnerability and drawing up forecasts and scenarios to help identify what adaptation measures will be necessary in the Bergen area. This work is linked to national and international research communities.

In the municipal planning work, an overarching risk and vulnerability analysis has been carried out for land use following the principles defined by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning. The main principles of the analysis have been incorporated into the municipal master plan. Special risk and vulnerability maps have been drawn up for landslides, floods, wind and waves. These thematic maps are linked to the municipal master plan, and the provisions and guidelines in the land-use part of the plan are based on the thematic maps.

Bergen is also actively supporting the climate change plan for Hordaland County which focuses on land use and transport, agriculture, aquaculture and waste and economic business development. Bergen is also carrying out a project on climate change and human rights.

Within the BaltCICA project, Bergen is trying to integrate the various climate change adaptation projects into one overarching adaptation strategy and to develop a structure for information flow between the projects and between each project and the city, in order to enhance mutual learning.

In 2010, a stakeholder workshop discussed the following questions: How can legal rules contribute to resilience and a fair sharing of costs related to both preventing and compensating for negative impacts of climate change? Who is responsible for planning, mapping and implementing adaptation measures? Who should pay for what (ex ante), and what should be compensated, by whom, when climate related damage occurs (ex post)? What roles can insurance play in preventing and compensating for negative climate change impacts? Participants included local, regional and national administration, the business sector, environmental associations and the university sector.

The workshop created increased awareness on economic and legal responsibilities and on possible adaptation measures. Existing networks were strengthened and the business community was encouraged to play a more active role in climate change adaptation policies. Proposals that the City of Bergen can incorporate in their climate change adaptation strategy and in their work vis-à-vis stakeholders in urban development plans were produced.

Documentation and documents

Available files

Contact details

Ove Langeland,
Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research,