ThinkChina Analysis: Blue-Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Stormwater Management; Lessons from Six Municipality-Led Pilot Projects in Beijing and Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

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30 January 2020

ThinkChina Analysis: Blue-Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Stormwater Management; Lessons from Six Municipality-Led Pilot Projects in Beijing and Copenhagen


Managing stormwater on urban surfaces with blue-green infrastructure (BGI) is increasingly  being adopted as an alternative to conventional pipe-based stormwater management (SWM). This paper examines six municipality-led pilot projects from Beijing and Copenhagen; Beijing’s projects attempt to divert from a pipe-based approach, but are dominated by less BGI-based solutions; Copenhagen’s projects combine SWM with amenity improvement, but lack focus on stormwater utilization. Reviewed municipality-led pilot projects are shown to play an important role in both testing new solutions and upscaling them in the process of developing more sustainable cities. Key lessons for sustainable solutions include defining a clear water technique priority, targeting both small and big rain events, strengthening ‘vertical design’ and providing multiple benefits. An integrated stormwater management and landscape design process is a prerequisite to the meaningful implementation of these solutions. Research and documentation integrated with pilots will help upscale the practice at city scale.

Key takeaways:

  • Clear priorities among SWM techniques, targeting both small and big rain events, strengthening vertical design and landscape design are key for a sound project solution.
  • An integrated SWM and landscape design process is seen as a prerequisite for a sustainable solution with multiple benefits.
  • Identifying theoretical and empirical knowledge can help tackle these key steps.

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This analysis is an edited version of an article first published by Water in 2019.