Athens’ resilience journey
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years. Many consider it the cradle of western civilization.
But recent economic challenges across Greece, including austerity measures that drove cuts to social services, have led to high unemployment in Athens, averaging over 50% unemployment among young people.
The city has made significant efforts to expand welfare services and provide citizens with critical relief – food, shelter, childcare, and healthcare services – but this has strained city resources, especially those needed to shore up aging building stock and infrastructure. Over 30% of buildings in the city were constructed before the first building code for earthquake protection, a serious vulnerability in a country with the sixth highest seismic activity level in the world.
Athens also faces risks from ongoing environmental pressures. In recent years, heatwaves have increased in intensity and frequency, straining healthcare, emergency response services, and the electrical grid. In response, the city will undertake a large urban regeneration plan, which will provide long-term risk management for climate shocks.
Meet the Chief Resilience Officer
Senior Advisor Resilience and Sustainability
Eleni Myrivili is Senior Advisor to the City of Athens for Resilience and Sustainability. A tenured professor with executive experience in local government, she is an expert on urban resilience and climate adaptation, national borders, and cultural theory.
Elected to city government in 2014–2019, Eleni served as Athens’ Deputy Mayor for Urban Nature and Climate Resilience, pioneering multimillion-euro programs in equitable blue and green infrastructure development. Overseeing a staff of 400, she introduced a clear vision for Climate Adaptation and Urban Ecology, driving collaborative design and digital solutions that also protected the city’s most vulnerable populations. Her work on heat resilience established Athens’ leadership in international urban climate change responses.
Eleni was appointed the city’s CRO in 2015, and in 2017 she launched the Athens Resilience Strategy for 2030 as part of the 100RC initiative. She established the first office of Resilience and Sustainability in the city, embedding resilient methodologies, influencing strategic planning, and building capacity within the city’s administration.