#11 – Addressing Urban Heat
This eleventh Cities on the Frontline Webinar called attention on the urgency to address urban heat. With more cities facing record high temperatures and heatwaves increasing in number, it is important that we set an agenda to take collective action now.
Anouk Roeling, Program Officer for Resilient the Hague, kicks off the session with a presentation on the city’s many approaches in their local heat plan. She stresses the importance of heat mapping and vulnerability mapping to identify where in the city the greatest stress is felt. Further, she emphasizes the need for a holistic view of vulnerability, where income is not the only parameter, and factors such as health conditions, disability and loneliness must be included as well.
Roeling goes on to provide a detailed review of the main learnings that have come out of the R-Cities Community of Practice on Urban Heat. This space has allowed practitioners, academics, and city leaders to come together to share best practices and knowledge in how cities may attempt to adapt and mitigate urban heat. While some cities like New York and Sydney have experience in dealing with heatwaves, many others like The Hague do not.
In the short term, The Hague has prioritized communication and awareness raising in the community to ensure people understand how to take care of themselves in periods of high heat and the urgency to act on the issue. In addition, the city is prioritizing longer-term solutions by adapting physical spaces. Roeling highlights the Urban Waterbuffers used in the Netherlands which collects rainwater in times of high rainfall and then reuses it to cool spaces in times of high heat.
The session continues with Eleni Myrivili, Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Athens on Resilience and Sustainability. She shares the process of identifying the various shocks and stresses the city is prone to in order to build their Resilience Strategy, with drought and the urban heat island effect being key issues. Currently underway is their Urban Forest Masterplan, which also sets out to address concerns around urban heat.
In her role as Atlantic Council Senior Fellow and Advisor for the AARF Resilience Center, Myrivili is working with the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance to advance efforts to eliminate heat as the “silent killer”. She highlights the four work streams on Extreme Heat under the Arsht-Rock Foundation including developing policy recommendations, providing access to capital, and implementation of physical interventions.
The session culminates with a dialogue between the speakers and hosts on a variety of studies conducted on urban and extreme heat, the allies needed in this work and the importance of keeping the most vulnerable populations central to any solution.
Program Officer, Resilient The Hague
“Use your heat maps!”
“Provide the why – we have to diversify our information and make people aware by sharing knowledge.”
Senior Advisor on Resilience & Sustainability, City of Athens
Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
“Strategic partnerships have been crucial for the @CityofAthens to assess & build the solutions needed to mitigate urban heat. We need allies in this fight.”
“City networks have been extraordinary allies.”