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Sustainability strategy

Sustainability strategy for the municipality of Kolding 


- Together we can create the sustainable society of the future

In collaboration with our citizens, companies and educational institutions we want to take the lead in creating a new level of quality of life and a growth based on a circular economy. Together we can change our society and create increased health and well-being for all, a climate in balance, a diverse natural world, an increased focus on water as a resource and new innovative business models that keep the resources in circulation and create jobs. To succeed, we meet in communities in the cities and in the countryside.

In Kolding, we work in a goal-oriented manner to promote the green transition, and to strengthen the quality of life for our citizens and the conditions of growth for business. We continue that effort but with a raised bar and increased ambitions. Overall, Denmark is working on the green transition, but Kolding has taken the lead and exploits the potentials of the transitions towards 2030 to create a new level of quality of life and
sustainable growth based on a circular economy.

The transformation of society is both necessary and at the same time a markedly professional opportunity and we are determined to maximise the effect. It is necessary because the world today is constantly changing and marked by imbalance. As the climate is changing, the natural resources are under pressure, many people are lonely and stressed, and young people are unhappy, we have actively chosen to work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have chosen to work with the SDGs towards the current everyday goals and to use a circular economy as a key tool for creating a sustainable society.

Our ambition is that, by 2030, we will have a sustainable society with a new level of quality of life, where health and well-being is increased, the climate is in balance, where we have a diverse natural environment, an increased focus on water as a resource and where we can ensure that we keep the resources in circulation. Soon, we must design a new and better society by rethinking the way we produce and consume, by creating sustainable communities and developing new innovative business models. At Kolding, design is in our DNA and we are therefore well equipped to realise the potentials of the green transition and to create the way forward.
Why choose 2030 as the ”finish line”? Studies show that humanity has until 2030 to radically change the ”normal” and set a new direction that minimises the negative effects of the damage we have done to the ecosystems and recreate the possibilities for future generations. However, it is still possible to reach the goals if we make wise and long-term decisions and act collectively now. What we do in this next decade is going to have major consequences for our future, and in 10 years, we will not have the same opportunities. The year 2030 is also the deadline for the SDGs.

In 2030, we in Kolding will be able to say that we did everything in our power to make a difference.

We, Kolding Municipality, as a company want to be first movers and commit to a sustainable management
with a number of concrete objectives to ensure our efforts. However, we will not reach the finish line if we are alone. In other words, it is crucial that all parties – citizens, companies and educational institutions, seize the opportunity, so we can create a sustainable society together.
With this strategy, we commit Kolding to a direction – and it is an open invitation for cooperation. Our mantra is: No one can do everything but everyone can do something, and together we can make a difference. We hope that you will make this mantra your own, so we together can take responsibility for creating a sustainable society and a world we can be proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren. en verden, vi kan være stolte af at give videre til vores børn og børnebørn.

To create the sustainable society of the future and fulfil our ambition, we have chosen six areas of action, which will the key areas of focus in developing a sustainable society in the municipality of Kolding:

The six areas of action represent the biggest challenges today in the municipality of Kolding, which at the  same time are also of crucial importance for our basis of existence and ultimate quality of life. The areas of action also represent a grouping and a local translation of the UN’s SDGs. (figure p.7).

The areas of action bring together several initiatives and strategies across the municipality, and set the direction of our work, which means that the proposed solution positively affects one or more of the areas of action. The six areas of action are internally connected and have an influence on each other. It is therefore important that the efforts are located within the individual area in connection with the other areas.

Objectives - The municipality commits itself as a company

Under each action area, we have set up a number of ambitious goals that set the direction for our work. The objectives are divided into a long-term perspective (2030) and a more short-term perspective (2020-2023). The short-term perspective is also divided into objectives for the municipality as a geographical area and objectives for Kolding Municipality as a company, to show that we have committed ourselves to restructuring our own company and taking the lead.

The focus areas’ relationship to the SDGs

1. Screening of the UN’s 17 SDGs.

2. Selection of goals based on the biggest challenges in Kolding.

3. Grouping the goals and translation into a local context.

You can find which SDG sub-goals the six areas of action are contributing to in Appendix 1.

The direction is set – via the six areas of action we can create the sustainable society of the future.
So, how do we fulfil this ambition in practice?

To reach our goal with these ambitions, we must rearrange our current society from a linear to a circular economic community. Today, we primarily have a linear mindset where we act as if we have infinite access to raw materials and resources to obtain cheaply and without consequences. Unfortunately, the world is not like that, never has been and will never be. We only have a limited amount of raw materials and resources, and this clearly has consequences when producing, consuming and disposing of products in the way we currently do.

A circular economy takes place within a holistic mindset, and is based on a circular flow of resources where the same materials are being used multiple times, where ecosystems are regenerated, where harmful chemicals and waste are designed away and where the whole system is based on renewable energy.
In other words, circular thinking is our basic view and our toolbox to solve the challenges we are facing, whether climate, biodiversity or well-being.

How do we transition from a linear to a circular economy? The answer to that question lies within the field of design. We need to rethink and redesign the way we have arranged our society and economy, in the way we produce and consume and in the way we develop and operate. We must, in other words, challenge the norms and change our habitual thinking.

A change of our mindset

Design and design thinking are part of our DNA in Kolding, which enables us to challenge ‘the usual’ and perform complex problem solving where the solution is not found in a linear process. By using design thinking and having a circular mindset, we can transfer symptom treatment to causal treatment, and address the very roots of the challenges we face in order to create a new level of quality of life and sustainable growth. We call this circular design thinking.

Circular design thinking is hereby the core of our efforts, which means that we must arrange ourselves in such a way that the things we do today create new and positive opportunities for the future – which means not making the future worse and more uncertain for the following generations.

Circular design thinking is based on five principles, which we focus on when launching new initiatives (see ‘Five circular design principles’).

Circular design thinking as a lever for the six areas of action

We will ensure that the approaches and solutions given below each of our six areas of action are based on the five circular design principles to create the basis for moving us from a linear to a circular mindset and changing our society.

The five circular design principles

From waste to resource

Our efforts create closed circuits and contribute to regenerating our products and resources. It means that
things are designed so that they can be repaired, recycled and eventually separated so that they can again be
returned to circulation. Everything is a resource, nothing is wasted.

From ownership to parts

We make the best use of our resources and therefore our products and resources are shared between us. It
means that we go from a mentality of ownership to a loaning and sharing mentality, where we share and pass
on our products and resources to the next user and the next generation.

From silos to whole units

We focus on the unity these efforts help to form, where everything is connected in interaction. This means that we work across organisational boundaries and financial coffers, and find solutions in interaction with different actors. In so doing, we ensure that an improvement in a specific area does not create a major unintended problem elsewhere.

From one to several bottom lines

We focus on creating sustainable growth where we emphasise the environmental and social bottom line
equally with the economic one. This means that we relate to all our areas of action when we make decisions
and when the decisions taken are based on the total economy.

From the least possible damage to the greatest benefit

Our efforts must not only avoid doing harm, but also create solutions that benefit the most possible parties,
and regenerate our ecosystem and society. This means that we actively relate to how the areas of action create the most value.

Health and well-being for all

A sustainable society requires a mentally and physically healthy population. It involves creating frameworks and preconditions for the citizens to have a long and healthy life where they can contribute actively to a sustainable society. For individuals, sustainability in relation to health and well-being involves good health, a prosperous life and where we can have the abilities to unfold, deal with everyday challenges and be a part of communities with other people.

In the following years, we face several challenges. The number of senior citizens will be higher than today, and towards the year 2050 the number of 75+ year olds in Kolding municipality will have doubled. This means that there will be a pressure on how to use the resources in the senior field in the best possible way, so that good elderly care can be maintained. In addition to more senior citizens, there will also be more citizens with chronic diseases.

The single factor that degrades our health the most is smoking – i.e. due to cancer, cardiovascular disease and COPD. We have never had more focus on obesity than we have today; at the same time, we have never had so many people that are struggling with food, body and weight issues. Our approach and other methods when meeting people are therefore different – see the example Equilibrium. In the next couple of years, we will also experience an increase in citizens with mental disorders and challenges in their mental health.
Stress, anxiety and depression are a growing problem that can cause permanent injury and reduce our quality of life and working ability.

We are facing a big challenge to create health and well-being both for now and in the future.

A society where it is easy to make healthy and sustainable choices, as both the framework and the preconditions are present in society and are equally accessible to all. Physical activity/movement has a positive impact on many biological processes in the body and has a significant preventive effect on both physical and mental health. We seek sustainable solutions, e.g. that more people walk or take their bike along good and safe paths and everyone has access to nature, which creates a space for both calmness and contemplation and physical activity.

We will develop strategic and interdisciplinary cooperation so that we can together create a sustainable community with a mentally and physically healthy population. One where the elderly are self-reliant as much as possible, children and young people thrive, and we have succeeded in preventing the onset of smoking.
We meet each other with a different approach than today, so more people are satisfied and experiencing living a meaningful life.

We strengthen citizens’ mental health through meaningful communities. We work with holistic efforts, not just focusing on supporting the individual, but which also focus on the social cohesion of society.

It is easy to make a healthy and sustainable choice, as both the framework and the conditions are

  • A meaningful life: Citizens are supported in living a meaningful life.
  • An active life: Citizens are supported in being more active, physically, mentally and socially.
  • Framework for a meaningful and active life: Everyone has the opportunity to make a more healthy and sustainable choice by, for instance, having equal access to nature, good bicycle paths, etc.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • Physical health: Proportion of smokers and people who have challenges with food, body and weight is reduced, and more citizens are physically active.
  • Mental well-being: VWe focus on strengthening citizens’ mental health through meaningful communities. We work with efforts not just focusing on supporting the individual but also focusing on the social cohesion of society. This means, for example, that more young people (16-24 years) experience positive feelings, and several senior living communities are established to fight loneliness in the elderly generation.
  • Framework for health and well-being: We work actively to create the best framework and conditions for it to be easy to make healthy choices (e.g. access to nature, bicycling and running trails, knowledge).

Kolding Municipality as a company

  • Physical health at work: Kolding Municipality is a smoke-free workplace. Most people consider physical activity in work planning, e.g. walking, choosing the servicebicycles or walking to meetings rather than holding sedentary meetings or taking the car to meetings.
  • Improving mental well-being at the workplace: We want to reduce stress in Kolding Municipality. The Management-MED Committee has this objective as a target by the mid-2021 for our own management. The objective will be followed up by the well-being survey in 2023.
  • Flexible work culture: Kolding Municipality is working on creating a flexible work culture, where employees experience having an influence on the task solution and in the organisation of the work, so that it benefits, as well as the needs of the citizen, the efficiency of the workplace and our overall well-being and job satisfaction. The Management-MED Committee determines mid-2021 as a target for our own management in relation to this objective.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Nature strengthens our mental health
- Therapy garden Møllebæk

Behind the Amphitheatre and close to the Geographical Garden is Terapihaven Møllebæk, which is available to people with stress or symptoms of stress, or chronic or life-threatening illness. Research shows that nature and green spaces have a positive effect on our mental health and that this effect may seem stronger when the natural environment offers certain qualities. The therapy garden Møllebæk has been developed from a background of research from the University of Copenhagen therapy garden Nacadia and special natural qualities such as ”peaceful”, ” wild”, ” species-rich” and “feeling of sanctuary” are dominant.

A new approach to food, body and weight
- Equilibrium

In Kolding Municipality, we are first-movers in creating an approach to health together with the citizens. Equilibrium is an example of this and is a team-based course for people who have challenges with food, body and weight. The target group is people who have not experienced long-term success with diets or weight-loss courses. The starting point in Equilibrium takes place in what is considered meaningful to the individual and the team as a whole and the course is adapted accordingly.

Self-reliant seniors
- Rehabilitation in the healthcare at home

Kolding Municipality’s home-helpers train the recipients of home-help to become self-reliant in relation to their traditional tasks. This could be, for instance, dusting or vacuuming for themselves. The required training in this example could consist of walking exercises to contribute to the ultimate self-reliance of the citizen.

  • Do something active: Be physically, mentally, culturally and socially active. For instance, take your bike instead of the car and use the local cultural offerings.
  • Do something meaningful: Prioritise what gives you joy in everyday life. Many find joy and meaning in being part of a volunteer community or association.
  • Do something together: Try to do something with others. Share your wheelbarrow or hedge trimmer with your neighbour, hold anti-food-waste dinners with your friends, where you pool your leftovers and surplus food.
  • Use the nature: Research indicates that nature has a positive effect on our mental well-being. Therefore, use the natural world more in your everyday life – either for a walk, a walk with your dog, exercising, or sitting down on the grass and reading a good book. Therefore, participate in activities that both get the heart rate up and get the heart rate down.
  • Take the lead: Organise a jogging session or other exercise activity for your workplace, school, apartment block l or residential area – perhaps you can combine it with collecting litter.

A climate in balance

We are the last generation that can stop severe climate change. Climate change is already noticeable when floods or droughts hit us.
Each time new climate studies are published, the situation of the climate change is clearly stated to the world community. It is essential that we do everything we can to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The good thing is that we know how – but the initiatives must be accelerated.

Today, up to 70% of power comes from renewable energy sources and our district heating is 95% CO2-neutral in many places in Kolding. We are already well established in the energy sector, even though there is still a lot more to do. However, there are other areas where we still have not even begun. The transport
sector together with the agriculture sector make up more than half of the CO2 emissions in the municipality. In addition, if we look at the actual CO2 emissions the numbers are unfortunately even worse. Imports from other countries constitute a considerable part of the Danish and the people of Kolding’s total CO2 emissions.

However, when we calculate CO2emissions, the emissions from the production of products and materials are attributed to the countries in which they take place. The problem is that in many cases the production takes place in developing countries which have no capacity to restructure the production lines.
That is why it is important that we not just look at the energy sector as we have previously done. We must look at the whole, and not see Kolding as an isolated silo, but instead consider the wider picture and look broadly at society regarding the essential elements that contribute to CO2 emissions.

A society provided with green energy for electricity and heating. Our buildings are smart, so they utilise energy smartly and cheaply. To achieve this, district heating is spread widely and the surplus heat from industry becomes efficiently transferred to the district heating network. We have established renewable
energy facilities around the municipality – solar cells, wind turbines and biogas plants. Our villages work together to establish large efficient heat pump systems.

For short distances our preferred transportation is either to bike or to walk and we can move unhindered around the cities via good path connections. When we travel longer distances, we can drive with others in fossil-free forms of transport. This results in lower CO2 emissions and clean air, as well as lower traffic
noise in the cities. 
In the countryside, farmers can supply their livestock manure and other by-products and residues to a biogas plant. Waste turns into resources and we create a green energy resource as well as better fertiliser for both the environment and the crops. The organic soils, which contain a lot of CO2, are taken out of service so instead of giving out CO2, they absorb CO2 and contribute to the creation of new nature.

Our consumption has become more sustainable and circular. We reuse and recycle the raw materials, and CO2-heavy products have been replaced with more sustainable alternatives.

We are among the municipalities that have reduced CO2 emissions the most, not just by focusing on direct emissions, but also the indirect emissions caused by consumption and import of goods.

  • CO2-udledning geografisk: CO2 emissions within the municipal boundaries, including the energy, transportation and agriculture sector, must not exceed 312,000 tons by 2030. (This corresponds to a 70% reduction compared to 1990).
  • CO2-udledning vareforbrug: The indirect CO2 emissions have been reduced by 50% from imported goods and services as well as investments compared to 2019.
  • Vedvarende energianlæg: Renewable electricity is produced within the municipal boundary, which corresponds to at least 50% of total power consumption by 2030. (50% is estimated at 1551 TJ).

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • CO2 emissions geographically: CO2 emissions within the municipal boundaries, including the energy, transportation and agriculture sector, must not exceed 520,000 tons by 2023. (This corresponds to a 50% reduction compared to 1990).
  • CO2 emissions commodity consumption: The indirect CO2 emissions have been reduced by 15% compared to 2019. 
  • Renewable energy plants: Renewable electricity is produced within the municipal boundary, which corresponds to at least 15% of total power consumption in 2023. (15% is estimated at 380 TJ.)

Kolding Municipality as a company 

  • CO2-neutral energy: We produce or buy CO2 -neutral energy so it is equivalent to 100% of our own power consumption and 90% of our heat consumption.
  • CO2 emissions commodity consumption: Our indirect CO2 emissions have been reduced by 25% compared to 2019.
  • Transportation: 100% of the city buses and at least 90% of the driving hours for the total public bus transportation in the municipality are running on fossil-free fuels and we are reducing 50% of the total CO2 emissions from the municipal vehicles.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

CO2-neutral heat supply
- Collective heat pump system in Vester Nebel

TREFOR in collaboration with Kolding Municipality have installed heat pumps that can supply up to 70 homes with stable geothermal heating for one subscription price, which corresponds to the price of district heating in the rest of the municipality. The geothermal heating system supplies 240- 320 kW, and residents can do the dishes and bathe in up to 50-degree Celsius hot water.

Sustainable transport
- More carpooling

Kolding Municipality has entered into an agreement with the company NaboGo to launch and disseminate a special app that makes it easier to enter into private carpooling agreements.
Today we have started up operations in the villages of Jordrup, Vester Nebel, Agtrup/Sdr. Bjert and Sdr. Stenderup, like NaboGo, has contact with a number of local companies and institutions.

CO2 reduction in municipal properties
- An 85% reduction since 1988

Kolding Municipality has worked for many years with energy renovation of its municipal properties, which has resulted in a reduction in CO2 pr. m² of 85% in the period of 1988-2019.
This is partly achieved through more environmentally friendly energy and partly with various
initiatives, such as installing LED lighting with daylight control and motion sensors, by optimising all operations on various ventilation systems, replacing units, a large electricity saving campaign in commercial kitchens in the senior area as well as by replacing elderly white goods with new A+++ branded appliances.

  • Heat sources: Do not use the fireplace, replace your oil or natural gas boiler with a green alternative, e.g. a heat pump.
  • Energy label: Energy renovate your home. The sale value of the home increases through a good energy label.
  • Green energy: Support the green transition – buy green energy from your energy company.
  • Transportation: Hop on your bike and ignore the car on the short trips. Consider for the longer trips whether you can replace your car with an electric car, take public transport or use car-sharing or a car-sharing scheme, e.g. NaboGo or GoMore.
  • Consumption of goods: Can you repair goods or buy used goods rather than new? Can you rent to own? Is there a relevant sharing solution that meets your needs? Make demands on the goods and products you buy so that they live up to both environmental and social sustainability standards. Buy locally and support if necessary the local socio-economic companies.

A diverse natural world

Biodiversity is under severe pressure in Kolding, in Denmark and in the rest of the world.
This is taking place because the habitats of wild animals and plants are disappearing or deteriorating. In other words, the world is lacking space for nature. We use most areas for food and timber production, cities, housing and infrastructure, while nature is relegated to the remaining areas.
Another essential parameter is that we influence and change nature’s habitats with nutrients, drainage, temperature rises, changed precipitation patterns, pollution, invasive species, noise and much more besides.

It has become increasingly obvious that the way we produce products and food, as well as build up our cities, must be in better conformity with nature. We have experienced that when nature is taken into account, we often achieve a large number of positive effects, such as clean water for swimming or quiet green surroundings where we can relax. We thrive in harmony with nature and need it more and more – a demand that is likely to increase in the future

A society where landscapes with deep forests, wild streams, vast open natural areas and where the fjord and belt are again in balance.

One where we have prioritised the most valuable natural areas, where we stop the loss and decline of habitats.
We have identified biological core areas and here we have created optimal frameworks that make them robust and diverse now and in the future.
We have done this, among other things, by entering into voluntary agreements with the landowners to convert the surrounding areas to nature through, for example, land distribution or acquisitions of areas.

We have strengthened the connection between water and the natural areas of our cities and created attractive green paths, areas and living spaces. We see water and nature as essential elements when we develop the urban areas. We produce food and products in far better harmony with nature and work purposefully
to create the highest possible value for our ecosystem through our initiatives rather than merely reducing the damage.

We have turned the loss of biodiversity into growth in biodiversity, we have ensured the most important habitats against destruction and deterioration, and we have attractive green cities with the possibility to experience nature right outside our door.

We have turned the loss of biodiversity into growth in biodiversity, we have ensured the most important habitats against destruction and deterioration, and we have attractive green cities with the possibility to experience nature right outside our door. 

  • The particularly vulnerable natural habitat: VWe have stopped the decline of biodiversity in the municipality and the main habitats are ensured against deterioration. Nature is protected and prioritised within the larger, biological core areas in the municipality, which represent different habitat types from forest and light-open nature for fresh- and marine water. The biological core areas are robust and have grown in size.
  • Space for nature: Nature has been given more space and is generally in a better condition.
    Projects have been completed that contribute to a natural environment with larger natural areas that are better connected and which offer the wild animals and plants better conditions. The fjord and the belt thrive.
  • Urban nature: Nature and water areas thrive in the cities. There are many diverse natural areas and living spaces for the benefit of animals and humans. Everyone in the city is within a short distance to the nearest green area and to water areas. The quality and distribution of the green paths means that they are used as the preferred infrastructure for soft road users.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • Biological core areas: The most important habitats as well as biological core areas are identified, and the work of minimising the threats to the areas has begun.
  • Space for nature: We are working to recreate the natural processes and create more space and context.
  • Urban nature: We collaborate with companies, citizens and other relevant actors in making cities greener and more diverse.
    When it comes to urban development, it is the starting point that urban nature is improved and increased.

Kolding Municipality as a company

  • Nature areas: We have stopped the decline of biodiversity in the municipal nature areas, including the forests, and we are working actively to increase diverse ecosystems.
  • Agricultural land: Agricultural land is taken out of service if it can contribute to create more space and improve conditions for natural areas.
  • Urban nature: We have begun the realisation of a widespread green pathway network in our cities.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Protect the valuable
– Skamlingsbanken

Ever since the Iron Age, cows and sheep have grazed the steep hills and gorges around Skamlingsbanken. This has created a very special variety of grasses and flowering herbs, which are found only on very old and unfertilised areas. Today a plan has been created for the area. The municipality has bought the land and helped with paths, fencing and grazing agreements. The area has today received better protection and greater coherence has been created.

Naturpark Lillebælt
– a belt in balance

Nature Park Lillebælt wants to create a belt in balance, where the target is more cod and fewer crabs. There is a focus on creating concrete improvements in the marine environment of Lillebælt, for instance by establishing reefs of rocks, reefs for fish to hide, and biohuts.
Project Kolding Stenbank contributes to creating improvements in the belt. This project involves collecting stones from citizens and agriculture which are stacked in an increasingly larger pile at Kolding port, the stone bank, to eventually form a stone reef in Kolding Fjord.

Better access to nature
– Troldhedestien – Meeting places and experiences for everyone

The old railway line, Troldhedestien, connects via its varied cultural-historical landscape Kolding City with recreational areas such as Marielundskoven, Bramdrupdam Dam and Dybvadbro Station. In addition, the nature trail has been extended after Ferup Lake by a further 4.4 km on the initiative of local citizens. With
the project ‘Trollhedestien - Meeting places and experiences for everyone ’ Kolding Municipality will create new outdoor spaces and meeting places for positive experiences and the forming of communities between citizens with widely differing needs. Thus, the Troll Path must be an attractive offer to everyone, including citizens with special needs who are underrepresented in the current area.

More nature in the garden: Bring out the biodiversity in your garden by creating some wild areas where nature is allowed to take care of itself. Feel free to remove cut grass and let old trees stand, even when they die.

  • More animals in the garden: Make a hotel for insects in your garden, set up birdboxes/nests and make small piles of branches that insects and small animals can hide in, both to save a great deal of CO2 and the many trips to the recycling site to deliver garden waste.
  • Seek out wild nature: Take a walk in the wilderness so you can appreciate all the beautiful things that nature has to offer. Look at where there are some great tips for areas you can visit.
  • Help the fish: Do not wash garden furniture and your car with soap and chemicals close to your rainwater drain. Today, most rainwater drains run directly into streams, and we must therefore be careful about what runs into the rainwater drain.
  • Food: Eat more green, organic, and smaller amounts of meat that require far fewer cultivated areas (and less water). Eat according to the season, eat local foods, and preferably eat organic or eco-labelled foods.

Water as a resource

The circuit of water is an eternal cycle in which water moves down through the layers of soil and towards lakes, streams and the sea, to then evaporate again and become rain or snow via the clouds.
On its way through the circuit, water gives life to humans, animals and plants, and is one of our most important resources on earth. 
Without water, there would be no life. Since industrialisation, however, we have experienced the negative consequences of human actions, which are expressed both when we find pesticides in our groundwater, which causes closed drinking water wells, and also when climate change creates drought and floods on land and in cities.
To create the sustainable society of the future it is therefore crucial that we both ensure our clean groundwater and our municipality against flooding, so that Kolding is also an attractive municipality to settle in in the future.

A society where people still have the opportunity to drink clean water directly from the tap without having to worry about either the quality or the quantity. This is due to the preventive focus that has been on protecting groundwater against pesticides, other toxins and nutrients, and a focus on optimising security of supply based on holistic considerations. This means that the water plants are stronger and at the same time have the opportunity to help each other.

Everyone in Kolding municipality can also sleep safely at night without fear of flooding in their residence as the landowners have taken active ownership of activities and risk measures on their own land. The rainwater is therefore seen as a resource and the city can then be experienced as greener and lusher, as recreational areas are created with a space for nature and water for pleasure for both animals and humans in the context of climate adaptation. 
In addition to recreational areas, all recent urban development projects are characterised by the same approach where water management and nature are included from the start.

We have a robust society with a high degree of climate adaptation, high security of supply and
clean groundwater.

  • Clean groundwater: Special protection has been provided for the most vulnerable areas in all catchment areas. This means that there are no potential polluting activities in these areas.
    In particularly vulnerable sub-areas, afforestation or other forms have been established, for example for natural areas that also provide amenity value.
  • High security of supply: The waterworks all have a robust supply structure with emergency supply lines to neighbouring waterworks, parallel process lines, several source sites and boreholes
    for various groundwater reservoirs as well as well-maintained boreholes and waterworks. 
  • High degree of climate adaptation: Solutions have been found for all identified areas at risk of flooding. New residential areas are ensured against a 100-year incident in relation to surface
    water and seawater, and against threats to rising groundwater.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • Polluting activities: All protected areas close to drilling are mapped and have potentially banned polluting activities.
  • Contingency plan: All waterworks have prepared a contingency plan, which explains how a supply can be maintained if contamination is found. This may for example, be via emergency supply lines to a neighbouring waterworks.
  • Risk management plan: For all designated areas in the city of Kolding, which is at risk of flooding from the fjord, lakes and streams are mapped and a risk management plan has been prepared, and the first appropriate steps to meet them have been taken.
  • Private property owners: Citizens and companies take active ownership activities and risk measures on their own accord so that they help to ensure clean groundwater in the future and ensure against floods on their own land.

Kolding Municipality as a company

  • Weed control: We use environmentally friendly weed control.
  • Climate adaptation of own buildings: On the municipal buildings, we want to ensure that our rainwater does not strain the sewers and cause floods. Instead, we try to use the rainwater for others purposes, e.g. irrigation.
  • Climate adaptation of own facilities: In the cases where the municipality itself is the client, we will also ensure our construction projects via local plans ensure new urban development projects against flooding in relation to the guidelines outlined in the municipal plan, the climate adaptation plan and the risk management plan.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Climate adaptation and urban development
– Byparken in Kolding

The city park is close to the city centre of Kolding and is part of the recreational green street, which also contains the park of play, Slotssøen, Vifdam and the more naturally embossed Marielund Sø and forest. The city park was, in 2018, newly decorated, where in addition to offering facilities for recreational stay it can also hold 4000 m3 of water in a rainwater basin and thereby relieve the sewers in Kolding City during cloudburst and prolonged rain. 
Kolding Municipality and BlueKolding have jointly completed the project, and have shown the path to a green oasis in good coherence with the other green areas in the city.

Groundwater protection
– Non-toxic weed control

Kolding Municipality has purchased a new machine for weed control that uses boiling water rather than pesticide. It is planned to develop the machine, so that in the near future water from rooftops and treated wastewater can be used for weed control.

Kolding Å
– Management of rainwater and elevated water levels

The project of Kolding Å consists of several sub-projects: a pump / sluice project at the mouth of Kolding Å and a parking lot for water in the river valley west of E45.
The climate adaptation project must contribute to handling and regulating the large amounts of water in Kolding Å, which originates from cloudburst and prolonged rainfall. The climate adaptation project must also play a role when experiencing an elevated water level in Kolding Fjord in order to be able to regulate the water level in Kolding Å. The plant helps to ensure that Kolding Å does not overflow its banks, and that Kolding Å can at the same time act as a collection basin for roof and surface water from Kolding City centre and from the catchment area

Climate adaptation in the garden: Find out if it is possible to handle rainwater on your property so you help to relieve the sewer system and utilise the rainwater as a resource, e.g. in the garden. Read more at klimatilpasning

  • Save on water: For example, collect rainwater in a barrel or container. Beware of dripping taps and avoid taking long baths.
  • Avoid pesticides: Remember that you live on top of your drinking water – so avoid using toxins for weed control and for cleaning surfaces as it can seep down through the ground and contaminate our groundwater.
  • Buy organic and eco-labelled products: Buy organic food – so you know that no pesticides have been used and thus have not negatively contributed to groundwater pollution.
  • Tap water: Drink water directly from the tap instead of bottled water. Denmark has some of the cleanest water in the world, so it is also more environmentally friendly, as bottled water is both transported around in trucks and leaves behind a large amount of waste in the form of plastic bottles. Water quality is often better in tap water, it is more environmentally friendly and it is approximately 100 times cheaper than bottled water.

Resources in circuit

Globally the population is expanding and we are living longer. Simultaneously more people are lifting themselves out of poverty and into the global middle class, which has the resources to buy and consume. This puts great pressure on the resources of the Earth, as our lifestyle does not correspond to the resources we have available. If everyone was to live the same way as we do here in Denmark, then calculations show that we would need to have four earths to maintain the current consumption. This is the reason why the way we have arranged our society is not sustainable.

To ensure that future generations have the same opportunities that we enjoy today it is necessary to send the resources we use today either back into circulation so they are not destroyed in incinerators or buried in the ground in landfills. The value of the resources must be increased so they can compensate for some of the environmental degradation we have created and continue to create. To do this we must share the resources we have, design our products so that they can be disassembled, be used with flexibility, and by phasing out
toxic ingredients, we must ensure that the materials can be used repeatedly.

A society where everything is a resource and nothing goes to waste. To do this, we must make the best use of our resources through new business models and new future-proof products that are in demand throughout the world. Our results have inspired more actors in society to see themselves as a part of the sustainable agenda, and Kolding has positioned itself as an attractive municipality for sustainable and circular companies and entrepreneurs.

In addition to the material resources, there are no human resources going to waste. We have brought all human resources into play so everyone feels they are contributing to creating something meaningful. These are socio-economic activities where both the human and material resources gain value, and flourish in all areas and corners of the municipality.

In local communities around the municipality, citizens share their resources between each other, so not everyone on the road has to own their own trailer, hedge trimmer and jigsaw.
Items that get broken will be repaired rather than thrown out, and items that cannot be saved will be sorted either at the local recycling site or at the smaller recycling stations close to home.

We have a society where everything is a resource and nothing is wasted.

  • Smart resource use: We use fewer resources by streamlining the use of our resources. We borrow and share resources. We recycle rather than use virgin materials. We attract companies and create jobs, all of which work on the basis of circular principles.
  • Extension of life: We have extended the life of our products and resources, by using quality materials as well as improving the maintenance and repair options. We repair rather than buy new. In Kolding, all citizens and companies can have ordinary objects repaired. 
  • Close the circuit: We have created closed resource circuits by regenerating materials and products. To succeed, companies manufacture products that can be separated into non-toxic individual parts so that they can be recycled. Citizens do not use the ”trash can” – everything is sorted for reuse, recycling or for the biological cycle.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • Circular competence course: All companies have been offered circular competency courses, and the relevant companies have been through the process.
  • Circular companies: Several companies work with reuse, recycling, and services in the form of repair and maintenance of resources.
  • Citizens and educational institutions: Sharing economic initiatives have been set up in all towns and villages in the municipality. All schools and educational institutions have sustainability and the circular economy on the agenda.

Kolding Municipality as a company

  • Purchasing and tendering: All purchasing is based on our resource and procurement policy, where total economy, product sustainability and circularity is in focus.
  • Construction and utilisation: Building according to circular principles and building resources are utilised more efficiently.
  • Reuse and recycling: We will reuse and recycle our resources internally before sending the materials to an external recipient, and we will reduce waste in our municipality, e.g. food waste.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

A new circular district
– Marina City

It is the ambition that the new district of Kolding, Marina City, is being developed as a project example of the circular economy in the construction sector. The project is developed in a partnership between Kolding Municipality, Kolding Marina and the Port of Kolding. The area is recertified gold according to DGNB in urban areas, which highlights that the area will be among the most sustainable districts in Denmark and internationally by far.

The recycling site on Bronzevej
– More direct recycling

At Genbrugspladsen on Bronzevej in addition
to getting rid of your sorted waste in a responsible
way, you can also contribute to promote
direct recycling. There is an area at the recycling
station that is open for citizens to pick up
other citizens’ items for reuse. Used items and
cases can be prolonged instead of ending up
as rubbish.

Socio-economic enterprises
– The human resources are put into play

Both in 2015 and in 2019, Kolding Municipality
has received the award of “Socio-economic
Municipality of the Year”. The award is given to
municipalities that have a social economy high
on the agenda and have shown outstanding
results. Among other things, Kolding Municipality
has entered into a partnership with the
Design School Kolding and several local socio-
economic enterprises in an overall concept
called “Vielgut Studio”.

  • Repair and upcycling: Repair and renew your things rather than buying new items, especially when you can visit Repair Café Kolding if you need help.
  • Share your things: Share your things with others, e.g. by creating a Facebook group with your neighbours, where you can share things with each other. It may also be that you could set up a physical bookcase or cupboard where you can exchange and share things with each other, for example a book-exchange cabinet.
  • Waste sorting: Sort your waste into all the items that you can get rid of at your local recycling site. Read more at
  • Avoid disposable items: Replace disposable tableware, disposable cloths, and plastic bags, etc. with things that can be used over and over again – e.g. a water bottle, reusable coffee mugs and knitted dishcloths, all of which can be recycled when no longer suitable for reuse or repair.
  • Healthy and sustainable products: Ditch products with toxic or harmful products ingredients and use environmentally friendly alternatives instead, for example the Nordic Ecolabel and the EU flower. This also applies to building materials.

Sustainable communities

Communities and close relationships play an important role for our quality of life, self-esteem and well-being, as described in the first area of action ‘Health and well-being for all’. People are social and have a basic need to be with other people.

In Kolding Municipality, we have many different communities – both informal and formal, big and small. Often communities arise entirely by themselves, other times they need a helping hand. Sometimes specific starting points are used to form the framework of communities, e.g. via cultural offerings and urban space development. In other cases the community itself is the goal where we support the actors in meeting about a ‘common third’, e.g. by offering companions.

Communities are important to us humans, and are what create the very foundation of our society.
The word community means a group of people inhabiting an entire area and who are linked by common interests, interdependence and consideration of each other. It requires an effort from everyone to create the sustainable society of the future – it only succeeds.

if everyone contributes. We therefore wish to mobilise our local actors around the ‘common third’ – the sustainable community of the future.

A society that other municipalities can take inspiration from when it comes to the good life and the sustainable agenda. We have succeeded because we have managed to pool our knowledge and forces across the municipal administrations, the local companies, educational institutions and citizens. Everyone feels a responsibility and everyone contributes the best they can, to create a common future with a new level of quality of life and sustainable growth.

In the joint process, new projects, solutions and business models emerged in an attempt to create health and well-being for all, a climate in balance, and a diverse natural environment, as well as getting our water and resources in circulation. It means that in 2030 we in Kolding can say that we have done what we could to create one sustainable society for all.

All the employees, citizens, companies and educational institutions in Kolding Municipality are
committed to the sustainable agenda, and work together to realise it.

  • Sustainable communities throughout the municipality: It is possible to be part of both the city’s and the countryside’s sustainable communities. Everyone is doing his or her best to contribute to a more sustainable world. 
  • Innovative culture of collaboration: Solutions are found across disciplines, interests, age, gender, ethnicity, etc. via an approach to collaboration where we test and do things to learn.
  • Sustainability as a starting point: Sustainability is no longer an add-on, but is the starting point and an integral part of our everyday life, which takes place in relation to the six focus areas: health, climate, nature, water, resources and communities.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Kolding Municipality as a geographic area

  • Sustainable local councils: The local councils in Kolding districts, towns and villages provide support in maintaining a local commitment, promote volunteering and contribute to the sustainable agenda.
  • Joint cooperation: Ambassador groups are found for citizens, companies and educational institutions, as together with municipal employees they must support the transition to a sustainable society, including creating communities around the sustainable agenda.
  • Knowledge and contributions: Around 50% of citizens have gained a greater understanding and knowledge about the common ambition and the sustainable agenda, the need to do something, and
    how they can contribute.

Kolding Municipality as a company

  • Sustainable management: All municipal leaders exercise sustainable leadership.
    The local authority has previously drawn up a code for sustainable management.
  • Conversion and cooperation: All municipal work areas are related to the sustainable agenda, and collaborate to meet the goals outlined in strategies.
  • Sustainable communities in cities and local areas: In the three municipal pools (district, city centre and village pool), a focus is on sustainable criteria for allocation of funds, and local communities are thereby supported so the development of their local areas is increased.

In order to meet these goals, a responsible project manager is selected, who together with relevant actors must make a specific action plan that describes how to reach our goals.

Community around repair rather than buying new
– Repair Café Kolding

Repair Café Kolding is a voluntary association, which has created a community around recycling and repair in Kolding. One day a month, they help and teach you about recycling – how to repair and recreate things instead of just discarding them and buying new.

Sustainable communities
– Kolding Youth Climate Council, Green Kolding

Kolding’s young people want to be heard in the climate debate. That is why Kolding Municipality has set up a Youth Climate Council, where young people between 13-30 have an opportunity to be part of a climate community and contribute to creating the climate efforts of the future, and can learn more about the climate as well as work completely concretely and locally with sustainability, the circular economy and climate issues.

Knowledge of sustainability
– Alminde-Viuf Fællesskole is a world language school

Alminde-Viuf Fællesskole is one of 18 primary schools in the country which may call itself a UNESCO World Language School. The goal is to give students an insight into and understanding of global sustainable themes. School staff and management provide students with competencies further in life and out into the wider world that renders them able to actively take co-responsibility as part of a local and global community.

  • Create a sustainable community: Create a sustainable community where you live or become a volunteer in some of the existing communities in the municipality, for example Food Reformers, New Start Kolding or Kolding Madhjælp.
  • Make a difference: Find out if you can make a difference in terms of health, climate, nature, water, resources and communities. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something – and a little is better than nothing.
  • Sustainable everyday decisions: Try to challenge your everyday decisions, when it comes to, for example, purchasing and transportation. Can you advantageously change something so that it becomes more sustainable? For example by looking at things on a more local level, looking at eco labels or by riding with a neighbour or taking your bike.
  • Collaborate with others: Send an email to if you have a good idea or just want to contribute and collaborate with others on sustainability in Kolding municipality.

From strategy to action

With this strategy, we have created a foundation and a direction. The next step will be to implement and realise it.

This requires that Kolding Municipality in this respect assumes new roles and acts in a different way than we currently do. We must first take the lead, make decisions and implement the strategy and our five basic circular design principles. We must enter into partnerships and collaborations where we facilitate and support that the many different actors in the municipality professions, citizens, organisations and education itself assume co-responsibility and make concrete changes. As we write in the introduction to the strategy ‘No one can do everything but everyone can do something and together we can make a difference’.

To fulfil an action plan outlined under each area of action, that highlights the very concrete actions and measurement points that can contribute to achieve our goals for each area of action and make possible the way towards the 2030 objectives.

Once a year, the City Council and the Finance Committee receive a report with the current status for the goals of the strategy – and at all times the sitting City Council has a duty to act if any signs that we are not reaching our goal are observed.

To succeed in implementing the strategy and take the long cool move towards 2030 is it crucial that we build a culture and an organisation around our work so that we can ensure progress and results.

In order to build a more sustainable culture, we will develop a code of sustainable management (see Objectives under Sustainable Communities), and support all Kolding Municipality’s leaders in incorporating sustainability into the day-to-day task solutions. Additionally, it needs to be connected with the handling of
all significant cases in the Municipal Committee and the City Council, and appear on the agenda text how the case relates to and promotes goal achievement in the municipality’s sustainability strategy.

Another important element in fulfilling the ambitions is to create an organisation and structure around the work across professional groups, administrations, local actors and business.

Therefore, the existing circular process is a transformed economics programme for a circular sustainability programme, where project managers are appointed each of the six areas of action.
In addition to the project managers for the six areas of action, project managers are also appointed for each target group; respectively citizens, businesses and educational institutions, in collaboration with the project managers realise the strategy.

To support the desired organisation, we want to establish a Centre for Sustainability, which goes across professional groups, administrations, local actors and business.

The centre will be a powerhouse for the implementation of the strategy and here the programme group must have its base. It becomes a hub and link between the active municipality and those citizens, educational institutions and companies who want to collaborate and co-create a new level of quality of life and sustainable
growth. The idea is that the project managers of each action area can sit with others who are passionate about making a difference in relationships to the sustainable agenda – such as students, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, local businesses, etc.

Citizens, businesses and educational institutions - No one can do everything but everyone can do something and together we can make a difference
Although this strategy is a political document for Kolding City Council, it is also an open invitation to cooperation. Kolding’s citizens, businesses and educational institutions can play a crucial role in achieving goals with the ambition of creating a sustainable community.

Citizens are the individuals who as consumers and people can make a number of crucial choices on behalf of themselves and society. 
The companies create jobs and growth in our society, which are vital to our well-being and future as an attractive municipality. Educational institutions educate the future citizens, and can – through their knowledge and innovation power – seriously accelerate the road towards a sustainable society.

With this strategy, we wish to take the first steps together to create the sustainable community of the future.

Behind the strategy

Our level of ambition for the sustainable agenda is high. That is why we started the strategy process by allying ourselves with some of the sharpest minds in the field, to get the best starting point in our strategic work.

During 2019, through the European Investment bank funds, we had the opportunity to receive insight into the strategy process from the Dutch consulting firm Turntoo, which is internationally recognised as being at the forefront when it comes to the circular economy. Based on their recommendations to the process we received in early 2020, we gathered a number of national experts who each gave their angle on what it takes to succeed in transforming a society to being sustainable.

From the left: Mayor of Kolding Jørn Pedersen, behavioral researcher Pelle Guldborg, entrepreneur Jesper Buch, Director of Concito Christian Ibsen, Professor Emeritus Steen Hildebrandt. Head of the Sustainability Science Center – Katherine Richardson, unfortunately, could not attend the photo shoot

Behind the strategy are representatives from Kolding Municipality’s five administrations and Business Kolding – which together constitute Kolding Municipality’s programme for a circular economy.

Ina Hviid (purchasing and insurance manager, Central Administration)
Kim Ankjær (project manager in circular finance, Redux)
Stella Jensen (programme manager for circular economy, City and Development Administration)
Trine Zielke (design and innovation consultant, Central Administration)
Jørgen Fuglsang Bruun (business consultant, Business Kolding)
Birgitte Munk Grunnet (chief consultant, senior, Health and Leisure Administration)
Gert Mølgaard (pedagogical consultant, Children, Education and Labor Market Administration)
Torsten Zink Sørensen (climate and sustainability coordinator, City and Development Administration)
Annette Nielsen (team leader in planning and circular finance, Redux)
Mette Winther Hauge (development consultant for volunteering and community, Social Administration)
Tine Roos (socio-economic development consultant, Children, Education and Labor Market Administration).

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