Heat-related socioecological risks are among the most significant challenges posed by rising global temperatures. They frequently result in potentially reparable but significant economic damages, and irreparable human losses. The risk is particularly high for approximately 60% of the working population in South Asia that is engaged in outdoor activities, which serve as the mainstay of South Asian economies. To respond to the growing challenges related to extreme heat, governments and policy bodies need to implement strategies that will improve building design, urban planning and emergency planning through regulations, incentives, pilot projects and climate resilience programmes.
In order to build capacity and knowledge about heat stresses and effective strategies to reduce them among member cities in South Asia and beyond of the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) alliance, ICLEI South Asia, as the GCoM South Asia Technical Coordinator, with support from the Delegation of the European Union to India and the GCoM India Coordinator, organised a webinar on ‘Rising Vulnerability to Heat Stress: Actions and Strategies for South Asian Cities’ on the 27th of April 2023. The webinar discussed the need to improve cities’ capacity to safeguard human lives by implementing building and urban design solutions to reduce the urban heat island effect. The participants included representatives from countries in South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia, and comprised urban development experts, climate change professionals and government representatives.
Mr Rohit Magotra, Deputy Director, Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe), pointed out the negative impacts of heat stresses on ecosystems, human health, productivity and livelihood. He elaborated on the varying definitions of heatwaves in the South Asia region and their increasing frequency over the years in India. Citing his organisation’s work, he stressed on the importance of preparing climate adaptive heat action plans. He also recommended prioritising wards and areas most affected by the urban heat island effect and revising the heat stress threshold for early warning systems.
Mr Ankit Makvana, Manager (Energy and Climate), ICLEI South Asia, presented the Urban Cooling Plan for Rajkot developed by ICLEI South Asia. He explained the methodology adopted for preparing the cooling plan and the various findings and recommendations, adding that cooling solutions for concrete roofs can potentially reduce the surface temperature by 1-4°C.
Ms Arusha Anand, City Project Coordinator, Nagpur Municipal Corporation, UNDP in India – Government of Maharashtra, presented the approach and steps adopted to formulate Nagpur’s Heat Action Plan. She also explained the institutional structure, roles of key persons and departments and the actions taken as part of the Heat Action Plan. Due to the city administration’s efforts, Nagpur city was able to reduce heatwave related cases from 438 in 2016 to 176 in 2022.
Mr Ashish Jindal, Lead – Cooling and Efficiency, National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), India, highlighted the benefits of cool-roof solutions through case studies. He also explained the rationale behind Telangana’s cool-roof policy and its objectives and targets. Telangana aims to save up to 600 million units (GWh) of electricity per year after five years through the Cool Roof Policy. Further, the state government will have 300 sq.km of ‘cool roof area’ that is expected to offset carbon emissions of 30 million tonnes in five years.
Access the recording of the webinar here.
Know more about the GCoM South Asia network and its activities.