Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Blue-Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services for Stormwater Management and Flood Risk Mitigation. Norwegian and International Experiences


Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Blue-Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services for Stormwater Management and Flood Risk Mitigation. Norwegian and International Experiences

Organizers: Mina Di Marino, Synne Movik and Steinar Taubøll. In association with Landscape Lab and Landscape Democracy Centre, NMBU

International Seminar 14. November 2019. Clock building U215, 12.15 – 16.00


Climate change constitutes a serious threat to buildings, infrastructure, and ecosystems, and it is important that we contribute to reducing flood risks, protecting biodiversity and people, and providing outdoor recreation. This must be taken into consideration in planning, property development, and maintenance of existing structures, both green and grey.

In this context, several disciplines have contributed to the advancement of knowledge such as environmental planning, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban ecology, hydrology, and law. However, the current lack of multidisciplinary communication and cooperation is one of the main challenges for effective storm water management and urban flood risk mitigation.

The aim of the seminar is to bring people from different disciplines together to explore the knowledge gaps that exist between the disciplines and between academics and practitioners. The seminar is guided by the following overarching questions: i) What are the key challenges with regard to integrating considerations of blue-green infrastructure and ecosystem services in urban planning practices?  ii) What are the main legal and institutional barriers to promoting blue-green infrastructures for sustainable urban storm water management? iii) What approaches and tools are needed to facilitate creative and innovative thinking about blue-green infrastructure in urban planning? Who are the actors involved and how do they operate in the governance of storm water management and flood risk mitigation?

These questions will be addressed through reviewing, comparing and discussing national and international case studies and experiences that the participants will present in the seminar.


Invited speakers: Chiara Cortinovis (Lund University, Sweden), Blal Adem Esmail (KTH, Sweden), Lina Suleiman (KTH. Sweden), Marianne Karlsson (NIVA, Norway), Anne-Karine Halvorsen Thoren, Ingrid Merete Ødegård (NMBU), Steinar Taubøll (NMBU) and Mina Di Marino (NMBU).



Interesting insights from the international seminar have been provided by the invited speakers. The presentation covered case studies from Norway, Sweden and Finland. The debate was very stimulating and inteactive considering the audience that was very expert and interested in the topics of the seminar. Here we have summed up the contents of the presentations.


Steinar provided a very comprehensive overview of the Norwegian government on planning guidelines and legal framework which are integrated into the land use. However, the land use planning often presents some vulnerability. Municipal plans should answer to the changes considering the larger picture of risk and vulnerability when e.g. planning new sites for building. However, a horizon of common information should be considered :’if we do not see the problem before then it is too late’ (cit. Steinar). Mapping the vulnerability and legislation are fundamental but not enough. Building owners and land owners should take the responsibility.


Mina showed that the emerging concepts of GI and ES are not yet acknowledged into the planning practices despite the increase awareness between academics, and more recently planners.  The traditional spatial classification of green space is a norm. It is constructed based on the zoning approach by using several parameters such as size, type of green and functions. Planners are still reading ES concept through the zoning approach. The two functions of recreation and preservation of green still dominate the field as well as the connectivity of green infrastructure. Official practitioners ask for further collaborations with research institutes and universities to better understand how to transfer GI and ES knowledge into the planning (land use maps, zoning and so on). Planning tools as well as regulatory frameworks might be revised having both GI and ES approaches in mind. In addition to this, more expertise in house are needed at the regional and local level of planning. There are functions and objectives of ES and GI that cannot be spatialized and visualized in traditional representations such as maps. There are data and information that should perhaps remain in the form of recommendations and pictures, at level of policy and planning strategies.


Bla presented findings from a review of 109 International cases on rain resources and socio-technical system. How the concepts and regulations have been acknowledged within the scientific debate. However, more emphasis is given to the new terminology of Nature Based-Solutions, Sponge Cities and Green Infrastructure, while in the Nordic countries, additional references can be found through the usage other key-words e.g. green structure which has been characterized for example the urban development of the City of Oslo and Helsinki. After analyzing 70000 papers, however, the next step is to provide not only a technical picture but also more narrative (and political) about the actors and measures that should bet taken into account. Who are the responsible for these changes and how to tackle them?.


Chiara discussed on the case of Malmo (which is one of the case studies analyzed within an European project) and who to use the city and neighborhood scale and when (from the big to the small rains events). It sees that there is a demand for exploring small-case solutions. However, how are these cases contributing to the outlines of city strategies?


Kine presented the Norwegian scenario related to the so-called ‘poster’ and how the landscape approach in Norway has considered the flood risks in the latest years. She mentioned that this problem was underestimated and not really embedded into the landscape analyses. However, nowadays, there is an increasing awareness (see the studies on the vegetation cover and solution when dealing with minor, big and extreme rain). However, there is an issue on how to transfer the knowledge on the consequences of flood risk into the land use and planning practices.


Lina showed interesting results from 3 urban districts taken as case studies in the City of Stockholm. Several interventions such as canals, wetlands and green infrastructures have been designed and partially executed in order to protect from the flood risks and manage the stormwater in those neighborhoods. There are still environmental issues related to the water of the canals which are still polluting, for examples. Thus, by analyzing the three cases, Lina realized that that the social and technical learning should be instituzionalized. The learning has to be further positioned and operationalized. The water must be controlled but this requires a commitment by the city. Moreover, the legislation should be able to analyse the problem, facilitated the consultation with experts and amongst private and public sectors.


Ingrid presented several interventions that have been designed and realized on the NMBU Campus. The campus has been used as a Lab to experiment green roofs, wetlands and rain gardens with an interdisciplinary team of experts (from e.g. landscape architecture, horticulture, hydro-geology). Several master students are also engaged in the LAB. A new plot has been identified to extend the experiments of the LAB. These interventions are at the micro-scale can pioneer new processes where outcomes from the small-scale interventions can be used as references into the strategies (and vice-versa). These experiments should be transferred to other contexts (e.g. more urbanized areas such as the City of Oslo).

Published 16. October 2019 - 13:58 - Updated 10. April 2021 - 18:01