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Athens Leads Global Initiative Against Extreme Heat

Acropolis view from Monastiraki
Athens Leads Global Initiative Against Extreme Heat. Credit: C Messier /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Athens will be leading the global initiative against extreme heat in urban environments, known as City Champions For Global Heat Action.

Minicipal officer Eleni Myrivili was named Global Chief Heat Officer, expected to take office at the UN Habitat in November 2022.

“It is an immense honor and responsibility,” Myrivili said of her new role.

She added: “Indeed, many capital cities in Europe and the world, and Athens among them, are expected to prove more vulnerable to rising temperatures and water scarcity. But we can reverse this scenario, and we have already seen many cities become more resilient to climate change issues. But we need to act radically.”

City Champions for Global Heat Action

The Greek capital joined forces with other global cities in forming the UN-backed City Champions for Global Heat Action initiative in July.

The initiative, run by the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council through the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA), supports cities in addressing heat-related risks which impact both health and economy.

As a core partner of the newly-founded EHRA -alongside Miami-Dade County, USA, and Freetown, Sierra Leone- Athens has pioneered the global debate since the beginning.

In a first video call on Friday, the mayors of the City Champions -Athens, Seville, Monterey, Miami-Dade County, Santiago, and Melbourne- exchanged good practices and ideas that they already apply in their cities to deal with extreme heat, which they discribe as a “silent killer.”

An announcement by the municipality of Athens, said the members of the initiative aspire to play a key role in the implementation of a global strategy for urban warming and encourage global engagement at the highest possible level.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Athens’s strategy against extreme heat

As one of the cities that has been already suffering consequences of extreme heat, the municipality has been focusing on actions to reverse climate change in recent years.

Some of the most important pillars of this strategy are the creation of new open green spaces and upgrading of existing ones, the restoration of the city’s fountains to reduce temperature, and the planting of more trees.

In a recent announcement, the municipality said it had planted over 3700 new trees and 30000 bushes across the city within a period of 2,5 years, with the aim of improving its microclimate.

It also promotes the use of “shielding” building materials in its projects in progress, which reduce thermal pressure and increase heat resistance.

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