Urban heat solutions

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Glass building and tree cover
Fahroni/Shutterstock

During heat waves, the highest temperatures are often found in urbanized areas. By 2070, 3.5 billion people will be heavily affected by heat, 1.6 billion of whom will live in urban areas (Chi Xu et al. 2020). Rising temperatures can negatively impact vulnerable people, workers, infrastructure and even GDP.

As the world warms, there is an urgent need to find ways to prevent the worse. Heat is a growing global challenge for communities large and small, across every development context, and requires collaboration amongst a wide array of disciplines and topic areas. In addition, newly sweltering countries can learn from heat-hardy ones about ways to stay cool.

This collection compiles stories from around the world on how to reduce heatwave risk.

The snooze is optional. But as climate change intensifies, Northern European countries are seeing the appeal of Spain’s controversial midday break.
Wired, Condé Nast Digital
While the only long-term way to reduce the heat of cities is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore start to reverse global warming, there are short-term solutions that can help make cities cooler and more livable.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
An elderly man drinks from a water bottle on a hot day
From sunshades to white roofs, and cooling payments to checks on the vulnerable, here's how hot countries deal with heat risks.
Thomson Reuters Foundation, trust.org
“One of the most important findings on urban resilience is that social resilience is often more important than physical resilience”.
Sun above a city
At the World Urban Forum, UN-Habitat and the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a partnership to address extreme urban heat by mainstreaming it in UN-Habitat’s work.
Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center
Marta Segura, who serves as director of Los Angeles’ Climate Emergency Mobilization Office in the Department of Public Works, was given a second title this month: chief heat officer, the city’s first.
Los Angeles Times