6 March 2020 | Reading 6 mins.

Managing flood risk in Oslo

“Combatting and adapting to climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and it can’t be left to someone else, at another time, or in another place.” With these words Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo, officially marked the start of Oslo’s year as European Green Capital 2019. Oslo’s aim for the year has been to spread knowledge, inspire and mobilize citizens and local governments throughout Europe, and beyond, in the struggle against climate change.

Even though cities experience the impacts of climate change in many different ways due to varying geography, infrastructure and many other factors, there is still a lot that they can learn from each other. In Oslo, one major challenge has been the risk of flooding due to its overloaded sewage system. In the spirit of sharing experiences and lessons learned, Oslo has made the story public, of how it is revolutionizing its waterways, and contributed to the Future-proof toolkit for cities, created within the European Green Capital Network.

Heavy rainfall is a major challenge for sewage systems and with episodes of extreme weather on the rise, this is likely to worsen in future. The City of Oslo saw the overloaded sewage system, particularly in the city centre, as a flood risk and as a real threat to water quality and public health. Something had to be done.

Flood in urban arean. Photo: Jonathan Ford

“Stormwater management has to be a central part of city planning. The government must ensure that municipalities have the necessary resources and tools to fund green and open solutions in parks and green spaces and thereby also spare the sewage system,” explains Norway’s Minister for the Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen.

In Oslo, the city decided to change the way it manages its water systems, by adopting a completely new approach – letting its waterways flow freely.

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