Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö is located on the south-western tip of the country and has a direct link to Denmark and the European continent via the Öresund bridge. The city has undergone a significant transformation since the early 20th century, from being an industrial town with its roots in shipbuilding and textiles, to experiencing an economic crisis with the collapse of these industries and, through the establishment of a university and an environment for business innovation, redefining itself as a ‘city of knowledge’.
Malmö's challenges and opportunities
In comparison to other Swedish cities, Malmö’s population is one of the youngest and has one of the highest proportions of foreign-born residents. The city is often portrayed as being unequal, segregated, and having high rates of violence, poverty, unemployment and social tensions.
One of the clearest indicators of inequality in Malmö is shown by the difference in life expectancy between different areas. To address these issues, Malmö set up the Commission for a Sustainable Malmö in 2010, which resulted in a report and policy recommendations to address some of the identified structural social inequalities. One of the main conclusions of the commission was that good and equal health is a precondition for all three dimensions of sustainable development.
Malmö also faces challenges related to its urban environment and climate change. For example, the city only has few green areas within or close to the city, and its continuous densification leads to additional stress on those areas.
Additionally, the city has a flat topography composed of a primarily clay-based foundation and relatively few water drainage outlets, making Malmö vulnerable to flooding during heavy rainfall. Located close to the sea, rising sea levels are also problematic.
To address these challenges, the city has spearheaded several development areas such as the Western Harbor with a focus on environmental solutions and innovative architecture, and Augustenborg with a focus on sustainable urban drainage systems. As one of the early adopters of Agenda 2030, Malmö continues to prioritize its sustainable urban development.
With CLEVER Cities, Malmö has chosen to support health-related issues through nature-based solutions in the neighborhood of Lindängen.
Lindängen was developed during the late 1960s and 1970s as a part of the country’s Million Program, an ambitious public housing program to build a million new homes in response to a housing shortage, a growing population, and increased urbanization.
Lindängen is located to the south of the inner ring road, which has become a physical barrier between Lindängen and the more central neighborhoods of Malmö. It features several high-rise blocks as well as detached houses, a community center, a shopping center including a library, various daycares, schools and after-school centres, as well as a 100-hectare area designated to become a recreational area. Some of the neighbourhood’s physical challenges include large-scale and monotonous architecture broad throughways, and unsafe cycling and walking paths.
Today the area of Lindängen has around 7,000 residents and is a culturally and socio-economically diverse area. Lindängen is one the neighborhoods in Malmö which has been identified as especially vulnerable, where residents have relatively low rates of post-secondary school education, employment, election participation and life expectancy as compared to other areas of the city and country.
CLEVER Cities plans
The intention is to work together with local residents and other actors to co-create plans to address health-related challenges. The area has experienced various attempts at regeneration with limited impact. However, as a result of recent organizational restructuring, there are new opportunities for joining forces, bolstering ongoing efforts and having real impact through nature-based solutions. The project will begin by identifying specific health-related challenges together with other actors already engaged in the area, and jointly identify processes and initiatives that can be supported through the CLEVER Cities project.
Malmö has chosen to follow and seek inspiration from London’s CLEVER Action Lab, which is implementing nature-based solutions in an area that is comparable to Lindängen. Experienced in implementing nature-based solutions from the technological side, the City of Malmö is also keen to share its expertise with other participating cities.