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Rising sea level in Norrköping

Climate adaptation by managed realignment

The project will show how obstacles and opportunities with managed realignment can be clarified through innovative and interactive visualization, which can serve as a basis for decision makers to decide on long-term sustainable land use.

The overall aim with managed realignment (MR) is to increase society’s resilience to climate change by allowing the shoreline more flexible movement, which will benefit both the environment and socio-economic development.

Our aim is to demonstrate how MR can be a viable option to adapt to sea level rise and increased river discharge, and how visualization can help policymakers make more sustainable decisions on land use planning.

A large part of Sweden's population lives near watercourses or coasts, and most of our towns are close to water. Infrastructures such as roads, railways, bridges and power stations have often been landed along our river banks where the land area is flat. This means that many sites and community functions are vulnerable to flooding, erosion and landslides - a vulnerability that is expected to increase as climate changes. Our impression is that cities are adapted to the water levels that are common today and assume that extremes will be the same in the future as now. As the ocean rises, parts of exposed coastal areas will be submerged.

The perception of what a managed realignment is varying and there is a great ignorance of what it really means. However, in Sweden and internationally there are examples where managed realignment has been applied to a smaller extent in order to restore wetlands, mainly in undeveloped environments. There is limited research on the potential of managed realignment in urban environments and there is often insufficient knowledge available to make decisions if managed realignment should be taken. Managed realignment is about adapting to a changing and dynamic shoreline, getting the buildings and infrastructure to the right place and allowing space for water.

Using a multidisciplinary approach the objectives are to:

  1. Delineate the environmental, social, economic, governance and technical opportunities and obstacles with MR at an individual, local, regional, national and international scale.
  2. Identify critical information-based obstacles to MR in four case studies in Sweden and analyze how they can be overcome.
  3. Visualize (and co-create) innovative practices and techniques for decision makers on various levels in Sweden to make sustainable collaborative planning decisions regarding MR and other aspects of nearshore land use management.
  4. Specify how innovative decision-making practices and supporting visualization techniques help decisionmakers overcome information-related obstacles and see what opportunities and benefits MR can provide.
  5. Formulate policy recommendations for Swedish local, regional and national policymakers and explore the transferability of results for further climate adaptation research and implementation.

The project will provide knowledge of why managed realignment has become a non-question, how today's existing barriers can be overcome and how managed realignment can be a possible climate change adaptation strategy in some places. The project will analyze what technical, legal, social and governing barriers exist at different levels in society (from national and regional, local and individual), which of these barriers are most critical and how they can be overcome. The project will show how obstacles can be clarified through innovative and interactive visualization, and what opportunities managed realignment can contribute and which can serve as a basis for decision makers to decide on long-term sustainable land use.


Project name





Region Östergötland

RISE role in project


Project start


35 månader


Statens Geotekniska Institut, SMHI, Linköping University


Forskningsrådet Formas

Project website

Supports the UN sustainability goals

11. Sustainable cities and communities
Nina Lemon

Contact person

Nina Lemon


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