Heat island mitigation strategies

Review of the international expert exchange on 13 Dezember 2022

Photo: leolintang | shutterstock

The ever-new heat records in all parts of the world show how climate change affects our lives. Cities in particular suffer from the urban heat island phenomenon, which can lead to illness and death from heat stress for people with low physical endurance.

Heat islands occur primarily in areas that are densely built-up and lack green spaces. They are further exacerbated by pollutant emissions, building materials that store heat, and heat generation within the city. The extent of the city also has a proportional effect on the formation of heat islands.

The three-hour virtual event organized by Connective Cities on December 13 was attended by more than 60 professionals from city governments and academia. The international group of participants from more than 20 different countries from the Mena region, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and America showed the high relevance of this topic in all parts of the world. In joint discussions, the participants exchanged views on issues such as the effectiveness of sponge cities, the use of heat-repellent building materials and the use of air conditioning. The effect of green roofs was discussed particularly controversially.

Prof. Dr. Shady Attia, who conducts research on urban climate adaptation at the University of Liège, Belgium, presented strategies for mitigating urban heat islands and adapting to the effects of climate change. In particular, he advocated the use of nature-based solutions, such as a high density of green spaces, to avoid building closed street canyons that prevent the circulation of fresh air and the importance of unsealed surfaces in the city. He also provided methodological advice on how a city administration can use satellite mapping to identify areas that are particularly vulnerable to heat.


Further inputs were given by Sophie Arens from the Climate Protection and Adaptation Coordination Office and Michal Leischner, Head of the Climate, Air and Noise Division from the Environmental Office of the City of Dortmund, Germany, who presented the vision of a green city and the participatory approach to develop the concept in Dortmund.


Mr. James Opondo Nyagol Climate Change Officer of Kisumu County, Kenya, presented in an interview the initiative to green Kisumu and the associated improvement of thermal comfort and urban aesthetics. Both he and Prof. Dr. Shady Attia emphasized that a participatory approach and the involvement of the population is essential for the acceptance of the solutions.


Connective Cities

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