Video: Leadership in Urban Climate Action―Beat the Heat
The Earth Care Awards recently awarded the joint efforts of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the Indian Meteorological Department, the Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, and NRDC for the groundbreaking Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan―the first in South Asia. The award was for “Leadership in Urban Climate Action.”
Earth Care YouTube Video on the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan
Awarded by Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan was selected because it is a model for effectively demonstrating extreme heat as an emerging climate concern for Indian cities. In particular, the plan was applauded for focusing on strategies to protect the most vulnerable groups to extreme heat. The project was also chosen since it contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 13 Climate Action with a target to “Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries” and “Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning”, as well as Goal 17 on Partnerships.
With skyrocketing temperatures, heat waves cripple many parts of the world, including India. Extreme heat is taking a toll on human health. Heat kills. Symptoms of heat-related illness include vomiting, headaches, dehydration, and diarrhea. Hospital rooms, cooling centers and city infrastructure struggle to keep communities cool and healthy. The economic costs are also staggering from extreme heat and other climate disasters.
Fortunately, solutions are available to fight climate change. Early warning systems and heat action plans are simple and easy-to-implement plans. The locally-developed plans include low-cost measures, such as inter-agency coordination to ensure that medical centers are staffed and trained and that individuals know to stay hydrated and out of the sun. Adaptive measures, such as cool roofs, energy efficiency and renewable energy, work to address and limit the impacts of climate change.
The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan stands out for several reasons. The plan shows how local actions can drive transformative change that scales at the national and international level. An even more powerful lesson is that simple measures, such as providing drinking water or applying cool roofs, can have significant benefits from saving lives to reducing energy demand―especially for vulnerable communities.
Early warning systems for extreme heat and heat action plans have now scaled to 11 Indian states and 30 cities in India with the leadership of the National Disaster Management Authority and Indian Meteorological Department as well as partners such as NRDC and the Indian Institute of Public Health – Gandhinagar (IIPHG). Last month, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) convened international experts from California as well as across India, including the NRDC – IIPHG team to help develop heat action plans in neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
NRDC is honored to partner with the city of Ahmedabad, IMD and IIPHG on this innovative project that protects communities by building climate resilience. NRDC also greatly appreciates the efforts of the dedicated stakeholders in Ahmedabad that have worked on implementing, improving, and scaling the heat action plan over the years. We also thank the extensive collaboration by the National Disaster Management Authority, the Indian Meteorological Service, leading city and state partners, the Public Health Foundation of India, as well as, our international collaboration with the Climate Development and Knowledge Network, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, the University of Washington, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, among others.
The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan has also been featured by: The Government of India at the Climate Summit COP21 in Paris – Climate Justice; Munich RE’s Top 20 Risk Award for Disaster Risk Reduction – People Centered, Sustainable and Innovative; and an ICLEI-CDKN Inside Story for Building Climate Resilience