This summer journey made us more hopeful. 

Written by Isabel Parra
Friday, 22 September 2023

Yesterday was the last day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere—the hottest summer since global records began in 1880. We all felt it. Climate change combined with an emerging El Niño escalated global temperatures and intensified extreme weather worldwide.

Heatwaves, fires, and floods destroyed lives and livelihoods across the globe. Headlines of record heatwaves and brutal humidity levels in North and South America, deadly floods and landslides in India and Western Europe, and droughts and wildfires in Iceland and parts of Asia dominated the media.

Our Cities Solve, Cities Deliver Summer journey dominated our socials—showcasing solutions that are building Urban Heat Resilience in cities. We confirmed once again that cities know how to turn things around—Cities are adapting, preparing and responding to extreme heat and building urban resilience with communities at the center.

Every solution was inspiring and full of human ingenuity. Even when cities employ similar approaches and technologies, every solution has a singularity connected with the unique context of the city. Here are some of those shared lessons:


West Gorton Community Park in Greater Manchester. Illustration Razvan Zamfira.

Awareness Gives Power

Knowledge saves lives during extreme heat. The heat alert system of Athens categorizes heatwaves so that residents can prepare and take action to protect themselves. Through the REACHOUT Horizon 2020 project, both Milan and Athens are using storytelling to make the impact of climate change tangible and immediate for people. Like Washington D.C., they have developed impactful climate stories to show the data and the reasons behind the policies implemented.

Immediate response Saves lives

When the heat was on, cities were ready on the frontline. London, Barcelona, and Monterrey had in place Cool Spaces networks that provide residents with immediate relief and health support. While simultaneously becoming a space for the community to connect and enjoy. We also saw how digital solutions helped people find the coolest routes in their neighbourhoods, the closest climate shelter, or the closest fountain.

Information and community engagement are a catalyzing mix

Calgary, Greater Manchester, and Buenos Aires have informative heat and vulnerability risk maps to identify which communities need more attention. Their communities’ lived experience guides their decisions and ensures solutions truly fit residents’ needs.

Community engagement in Buenos Aires.

Action Drives Change

From Amman’s sustainable drainage systems and urban green pockets to Ramallah’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Mexico City’s roofs community gardens, cities are leveraging technology and harnessing the power of nature to combat heat and foster community bonding while ensuring water availability and green spaces.

Preparation is a Better Future for All

Reimagining urban design is no longer an option—it’s a necessity. Preparing for the future means addressing interconnected challenges and reducing internal stresses, from social inequalities to inadequate infrastructure and health systems. Paris’ ambitious plan to prepare for a life at 50°C, Chennai’s Urban Horticulture program, and The Tree Alliance program in Boston are enhancing overall resilience. All these policies and projects are redesigning their built environment and bringing nature back to the city with extensive tree planting programs, removing concrete and asphalt from schoolyards, restoring rivers, and fostering urban agriculture and green education. 

This Cities Solve, Cities Deliver summer journey was a showroom of urban resilience. We have the knowledge and the solutions, and cities bring the collaboration, innovation, and determination to generate change. A well-deserved thank you to all our member cities for sharing their innovative solutions, allowing us to inspire other cities worldwide.

We hope to see you again in our next journey, Powering Resilience.

Rooftops Mexico City. Illustration Razvan Zamfira.

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