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Last update:Nov 19, 2019

Item Status Links
National Adaptation Strategy
  • Adopted
National Adaptation Plan
  • Adopted
Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments
  • Completed
Research programmes
  • Completed
Meteorological observations
  • Established
Climate Projections and Services
  • Being developed
  • The Danish webportal Klimatilpasning contains information on climate variables and a webGIS with maps. From late 2019 until 2021 a new ClimateAtlas will be launched by DMI
CC IVA portals and platforms
  • Established
Monitoring, Indicators, Methodologies
  • Being developed
Monitoring Mechanism Regulation
  • Last reporting on Adaptation (Art. 15) submitted
National Communication to the UNFCCC
  • Last National Communication Submitted

Climate change is expected to increase towards 2100 in terms of higher temperature, more winter precipitation, more frequent and more extreme weather events as well as sea level rise.

Adaptation Strategies

In Denmark, the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) was adopted in March 2008. Following a new government in 2011, a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) was adopted in 2012. The Action Plan for a Climate-Proof Denmark was launched in December 2012 and is the first NAP in Denmark. The NAP is based on the notion that a responsible climate policy must do more than just work to address climate change in the long term, it must also ensure necessary action is taken now to adapt our society to a climate that is already changing, and that all parts of society contribute to climate adaptation.

Dealing with the climate challenge requires collaboration between authorities, organisations, private enterprises and individuals, regardless of whether the project is maintenance of existing roads, coastal protection, construction, or investments in new infrastructure. The Government itself has a responsibility as the owner of infrastructure, buildings and land. However, the principal role for the Government is to establish an appropriate framework for local climate adaptation by, for example, adapting laws and regulations, but also by ensuring coordination and providing information. The Government requested all municipalities to develop their own adaptation action plans within two years. A solid framework for the efforts must support the specific parties involved, so that they can address the challenge in a socio-economically appropriate manner at the right time.

In the NAP, the Government commits to creating the basis for continued technological and knowledge development, so that Denmark will have a strong position on the global market for climate adaptation. The NAP presents 64 new initiatives within five general areas of initiative: an improved framework for climate adaptation; more consultation and a new knowledge base; strengthened collaboration and coordination; green transition; and international climate adaptation. A few national sectors, such as transport, roads and coastal protection, have dedicated adaptation plans In 2017, the Danish government decided to carry out a number of initiatives to support municipalities and property owners in establishing cost-effective and holistically planned flood and erosion protection. A cross-ministerial committee was set up and 15 new initiatives were decided (Denmark's 7th NCC, p. 297).

In 2017 a new national mobile team with a focus of flooding and erosion was established by the Ministry of Environment and Food (MEF) to help share knowledge, best practices and enhance cooperation, primarily with municipalities. In 2018 an amendment to the Planning Act was adopted so that all municipalities how to identify areas at risk of flooding and erosion and ensure remediation measures in their municipal plans. The amendment was in January 2019 followed by national guidelines and examples on how and what data to use in local-government spatial planning.

The Danish Coastal Authority, under the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, is responsible for the implementation of the Floods Directive in Denmark. Under this mandate, the Danish Coastal Authority has reviewed and updated the preliminary flood risk assessment together with an adjustment of identified areas of potential significant flood risks. The adjustment of identified areas of potential significant flood risk has resulted in the confirmation of the 10 areas appointed back in 2011 and the appointment of 4 new flood prone areas in 2018. Municipalities in the flood risk areas will now again be instructed to evaluate and prepare flood risk management plans.

Adaptation strategies have not been adopted at the subnational level but all municipalities have adopted local adaptation action plans in line with the national adaptation plan (NAP). Although not a formal responsibility or obligation, four of five regions have incorporated adaptation into their regional climate strategies: South Denmark , North Jutland, Region Zealand and the Capital Region . Central Denmark Region leads the EU-funded project "Coast to Coast Climate Challenge", which has a goal of formulating and implementing a coordinated adaptation strategy for the region between 2017 and 2022 .

Implementation means

The NAP required all municipalities to develop an action plan for climate change by the end of 2013. The Government formally agreed with the association of Danish municipalities in 2012 that all municipalities should develop an adaptation action plan by the end of 2013. To support municipalities and local-level decision makers in their work, the Government provided support through the establishment of a national task force with specific expertise in local adaptation issues as well as a web-based mapping of risks for flooding, rain fall and storm surges in various time perspectives, modelled according to IPCC 2007 scenarios.

All 98 Danish municipalities finalised their action plans by 2014. Each plan includes a flood risk mapping and sets the priorities for local climate adaptation measures. The Copenhagen Climate Adaptation plan was adopted in 2011 in response to the extreme, water-related consequences of climate change to which the city is exposed. Heavy rainfall in July 2011 prompted the city to develop a specific Cloudburst Management Plan in 2012 . The plan was used to develop 300 specific projects and a detailed management plan approved in 2015 to be implemented over 20 years. The plan was followed by seven catchment areas plans with surface solutions for each of the areas. In 2017 a storm surge plan for Copenhagen was launched.

Two out of five Danish regions have carried out studies on the impacts and risks of climate change, as the basis for regional strategic planning for adaptation. Sectors most covered include health, water management, transport, and buildings. The Capital Region of Denmark has established a cooperation organisation with the aim of supporting municipalities, water utilities and hospitals in their effort to move from plan to action within the field of adaptation . Denmark currently has 6 signatories to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy with a target for adaptation.

Monitoring, reporting and evaluation

The NAP presented 64 initatiatives, where 62 are either planned or implemented. Two initiatives are cancelled. No overview of implementation has been published. In the period February to August 2016, a cross-ministerial working group carried out an evaluation of the municipal climate adaptation efforts. The evaluation of all 98 municipalities' climate adaptation plans showed that all municipalities had adopted adaptation plans but that the level of detail and themes covered were uneven.

Schedule and planned review/revision

As of March 2019, no update is planned of the NAS/NAP.


Sectors addressed in NAS/NAP

The Danish work with climate adaptation revolves around key priority sectors. The overarching goal is to gather and create knowledge in these particular areas for further use. The sectors are:

  • Coastal management
  • Buildings and construction
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Agriculture
  • Forest
  • Fisheries
  • Planning
  • Health
  • Preparedness
  • Nature
  • Insurance
  • Transport

Mainstreaming of adaptation

A wide number of laws now include consideration of adaptation, particularly:

  • Water Sector Law
  • Act on Watercourses
  • Flood Protection Act
  • Coastal Protection Act
  • Nature Protection Act
  • Environmental Goals Act
  • Act on payment rules for wastewater supply companies
  • Roads Act
  • Emergency Management Act
  • Planning Act

According to Section 24 of the Danish Emergency Management Act ministries and underlying authorities are to plan the retention and continuation of vital societal functions within their sector in the event of accidents and disasters. This obligation includes the timely development of preparedness plans. The plans have to be revised to the extent made necessary by development, though at least once every four years. The municipal and regional councils adhere to the same planning obligation in accordance with Section 25 of the Danish Emergency Management Act. The Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) coordinates the overall national disaster risk management planning and is responsible for the inspection and counselling of state authorities, municipalities, and regions regarding their general disaster risk management planning and preparedness plans. Plans have to be inspected by DEMA at least once every four years or once during each municipal and regional parliamentary term. DEMA’s counselling is based, among other things, on the ‘National Risk Profile’, which identifies hurricanes and strong storms, coastal flooding as well as extreme rainfall as the climate-related risks that pose the greatest threat to the Danish society and need to be paid the closest attention to by all authorities with disaster risk management responsibilities. DEMA has produced key guidance documents to support the agency’s advisory and regulatory functions.

The Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing is working with the municipalities to improve the design of roads where necessary. The Danish Road Directorate has published several road standards on climate change adaptation dealing with drainage and stormwater and seepage basins.

In 2018 an amendment to the Coastal Protection Act was adopted, which means that since the first of September 2018 the administration of legislation concerning coastal protection belongs under the local authority.

In 2018 an amendment to the Planning Act was adopted so that all municipalities how to identify areas at risk of flooding and erosion and ensure remediation measures in their municipal plans. The amendment was in January 2019 followed by national guidelines and examples on how and what data to use in local-government spatial planning.

In 2018 the Storm Surge Act was modernised which means that citizens get a higher compensation in the event of storm surges and flooding from rivers.

Observations and Projections

There is an elaborate system in place for the observation of weather variables, e.g. including sea level and storm surges. Some of the data is publicly available, e.g. on the web portal of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). The DMI is also known globally for regional climate modelling (RCM) and is the leading national authority on regional climate change projections. DMI uses Global Climate Models to monitor interactions and feedback mechanisms between atmosphere, ocean, land surface and ice on a larger scale. DMI keeps detailed records of all weather-related events in Denmark in line with international standards.

There have been a number of heavy precipitation events in Denmark during the past decade, affecting different parts of the country. In 2014 the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) prepared a report on the expected climate change in Denmark, focusing on climate change towards the end of this century. The assessment of future climate change is based on the scenarios used by the IPCC 5th Assessment Report . DMI presented the results based on the most recent IPCC, BACC, European studies and the Danish CRES project where a number of climate simulations were performed with several regional and global climate models.

The Danish EPA prepared an analysis and summary of the Working Group II Contribution to the 5th Assessment Report from IPCC, with special focus on implications for Denmark, for policy makers. In 2018 DMI and the Danish EPA launched a guidance on the use of the RCP emission scenarios. DMI will prepare datasets and indicators (Climate Atlas) based on IPCC's 5th Assessment Report. The datasets will be provided to the municipalities from the end of 2019 and is further developed and updated up to 2021. Data will comprise projections and indicators of temperature, precipitation, extreme rainfall, sea level and storm surges.

Impact and Vulnerability Assessment

In 2012 the centrally convened Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation prepared an analysis called "Mapping climate change: barriers and opportunities for action" conducted a sectoral and cross-sectoral analysis of climate risks/vulnerability . It analysed 14 sectors: construction and housing, coasts and ports, transport, water, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, tourism, nature, health, emergency preparedness, insurance, and spatial planning. For each sector, it presented a basic analysis of important effects of climate change, relevant division of responsibilities between the authorities and private citizens, possibilities for adaptation, initiatives planned and in progress, and barriers and opportunities for future action. The report was based on the scenarios used by the IPCC 4th Assessment Report.

In 2016 a detailed risk assessment regarding erosion and flooding was conducted for the entire Danish coastline by the Coastal Authority. The assessment was conducted in a cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and Food, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate and the Ministry for Economic affairs and the Interior. The assessment was focusing on the effects of a future changing climate on the Danish coasts and has been used as a basis for the significant coastal adaptation initiatives being laid out in 2017/18. DMI estimates based on the IPCC 5th Assessment Report were used as a basis for the assessment.


The Coordination Unit for Research in Climate Change Adaptation (in Danish: Koordineringsenhed for Forskning i klimatilpasning - KFT) was established under the NAS. KFT was mandated to strengthen the coordination of national research activities in the context of climate adaptation, to ensure that synergies across a broad range of different research areas were harvested. KFT was a joint endeavour of the National Environmental Research Institute at the Aarhus University, the Danish Meteorological Institute, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), the University of Copenhagen and Denmark's Technical University. KFT reported to the inter-ministerial "Coordination Forum on Adaptation" and provided science-based knowledge to a national web portal on climate adaptation, at that time hosted by the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy.

KFT aimed to collate and transfer knowledge within all Danish (and international) research areas that worked on the issue of climate adaptation, and helped coordinate information access at the science-policy interface. This activity built on strong cooperation across a wide range of scientific disciplines as well as regular interaction with both the policy-makers and other stakeholders. In addition, KFT fostered national and international networks; identified and described knowledge gaps as input for future strategic research programmes. In 2013 the activities of KFT were transferred to a network of research activities on climate adaptation. The website is no longer updated.

The MEF has regular meetings with universities in order to highlight needs for further research on climate adaptation. Recent work is being done on adaptation knowledge regarding local level planning and coastal impacts. In 2019 a new network focused on sea level rise and coastal cities has been established. The network consists of a core-group of researchers from University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Aarhus School of Architecture. The network is financed by the private fund, Realdania The Environmental Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (MUDP) is in the Ministry of Environment and Food. The Programme supports development, testing and demonstration of environmentally efficient technology, including applications to adaptation. Its total budget for environmental technology efforts in 2019 is about DKK 88 million.

Monitoring progress

Every fourth year the Danish EPA publish a report on the environmental status in Denmark which also contains a chapter on climate change. The report will be updated in 2019, and the new report to be launched in autumn 2019 will describe the effects on climate change on e.g. precipitation, temperature, sea level rise and drought. The report will be available in a paper version and as a website.



Central to climate change adaptation efforts is a strong interaction between state and municipalities.


A mobile team (2012-2013) was established as part of the Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation. This team offered guidance and facilitated collaboration between municipal authorities and other stakeholders in the field, for example, with regard to preparing the municipal climate adaptation plans. A new mobile team (2017-2019) of subject specialists on adaptation, flooding, and erosion has been established by the Environmental Protection Agency and Coastal Authority . Its purpose is to advise, guide, support, and help coordinate municipalities in implementing adaptation solutions. The team is at the disposal of municipalities and offers training, workshops, seminars, and customised advice throughout the country at the request of municipalities. The mobile team also encourages cooperation across municipalities and bring in knowledge from other ministeries.

A formal municipal climate adaptation network, chaired by KL - Local Government Denmark, exists to help share knowledge and solutions between municipalities. A number of networks exists to involve stakeholders in the implementation of adaptation policies and measures. An example is 'Water in Urban Areas', which is an innovation network of knowledge institutions, municipalities, utilities, government agencies and private companies. The purpose of Water in Urban Areas is to develop, document and present climate adaptation technologies and associated planning tools for transformation of existing urban areas in Denmark. At the same time, Water in Urban Areas support network members in developing their export potential to climate change adaptation for the rest of Europe and the world.


The Danish web-portal,, established after the NAS in 2008 contains climate change, news, cases about climate adaptation measures and interactive tools. It is managed by the Danish EPA in cooperation with a number of other governmental bodies. Different GIS-based tools are targeted at municipalities, enterprises and the citizens. These tools can e.g. be used to assess risks from rising sea levels and to climate-proof buildings. Other available information includes:

  • data and maps of temperature, precipitation, sea and groundwater;
  • articles and guidance about areas in various sectors affected by climate changes;
  • practical advice on climate change adaptation;
  • examples of calculations of how climate change may be included as a basis for important decisions;
  • useful analysis and assessments for the public and decisions-makers;
  • information on financing adaptation projects;
  • overview of municipal climate action plans.

An English version is available.

An example of a socioeconomic tool is PLASK, which calculates the cost of damages in a project area in case of flooding calculated for different land use types. Historical values of insurance payments are combined with standard values. The tool also incorporates the long-term and short-term investment and maintenance costs of the different flooding prevention measures. Using this data, the tool executes a cost-benefit analysis to calculate the level of the lifespan of the project to get a net present value of the different measures. The tool is available at

International dimensions


The Danish Coastal Authority participates in the EU Interreg co-financed project on adaptation in the North Sea, "Building with Nature" with funds from the ERDF. Furthermore, a number of Danish municipalities and stakeholders are participating Interreg adaptation projects, including in (FRAMES) dealing with flood resilience, and TOPSOIL dealing with soil and water resilience.

Finally, several recent LIFE projects in Denmark have adaptation dimensions, particularly the Inter-municipal cooperation on "Water Management and Climate Change Adaptation for The Stream of Usserød", and the Central Denmark Region leads the EU-funded project "Coast to Coast Climate Challenge", which has a goal of formulating and implementing a coordinated adaptation strategy for the region between 2017 and 2022.

Danish Environmental Protection Agency

Ditte Holse

Chief Consultant

Tolderlundsvej 5, DK-5000 Odense C

Tel. +45 72 54 40 00



The information presented in these pages is based on the reporting according to the Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 525/2013) and updates by the EEA member countries