Individuals and communities must adjust their behaviours to protect themselves from the risks of extreme heat. Health professionals, working with actors in other sectors, must adjust their planning and actions to account for increasing temperatures and heatwaves. Practical, feasible, and often low-cost measures can save lives.
Detrimental impacts of extreme heat can be markedly reduced if appropriate strategic planning, early warning systems, public preparedness, urban design and engineering solutions, legislation, and health interventions that focus on prevention are effectively implemented.
Information and solutions should be derived and applied across the broad range of disciplines, time scales, and actors already making important strides to manage heat risks.
Seasonal and sub-seasonal preparedness, complemented by short-term heat early warning systems, are key components of heat action plans, health interventions and emergency response actions.
All well-functioning action and alert systems rely on strong cross-disciplinary and multi-agency collaboration, with effective communication between stakeholders including national and local governments, universities, media, healthcare and social protection systems, NGOS and humanitarian actors, as well as, affected populations.
Epidemiological studies, social science, risk assessment and heat forecasting capabilities are fundamental to incorporate the differentiated needs of vulnerable groups into risk planning, and to inform appropriate and effective responses.
Multi-disciplinary understandings of the risk context and perceptions are critical to effective intervention design.
Mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is imperative and urgent. Heat-related problems are destined to increase for decades to come, due to greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere that are rapidly warming the earth’s climate. However, the degree and rate of future warming and impacts beyond 2100 will depend on the success of climate change mitigation efforts. Meeting the targets of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement is critical for us all.
Strategic and environmentally sustainable urban and rural development planning that accounts for energy-efficient technical and biophysical solutions are essential for long-term heat risk management.
This includes cost-effective improvements to the built environment, especially housing and building design.
We are accelerating the assembly and transmission of knowledge for action in the following ways:
urgently improving awareness of the disaster that increasing extreme heat poses to human health, wellbeing, and productivity worldwide;
catalyzing and sustaining interdisciplinary partnerships and co-learning between research and practitioners across relevant government,academic, private sector and civil society bodies;
synthesizing and advancing science and technology available for decision making and risk reduction across sectors and time scales;
improving access to expert resources and opportunities for learning, exchange, and engagement;
identifying and promoting action to address critical gaps in research, knowledge and action.
Take a look at projects from around the world that are building resilience to extreme heat.
Case studies are included in the following publication: WHO/WMO. (2016) Climate Services for Health: Fundamentals and Case Studies for improving public health decision-making in a new climate. Eds. J.Shumake-Guillemot and L.Fernandez-Montoya. Geneva. View the publication here: https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/library/climate-services-health-case-studies