What to Look for at the First National Heat-Health Meeting
At the first-ever National Meeting of the National Integrated Heat Health Information System, practitioners from across the country will discuss how to keep America safe from deadly heat.
Policymakers, scientists, health justice advocates, and others are coming together tomorrow for the inaugural National Meeting of the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS). An impressive roster of speakers—including the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the world’s first Chief Heat Officer—will tackle topics from developing heat action plans in a changing climate to how best to communicate the dangers of heat.
The nine federal agencies that make up NIHHIS have worked since 2015 to build awareness and understanding of the health harms of heat and to increase the nation’s heat resilience. This National Meeting, which the White House announced as part of a broader set of initiatives last September, is an exciting opportunity to learn from practitioners around the country who are dealing with the threat of increasingly extreme temperatures.
Here are some of the specifics to look for.
An Emphasis on Heat-Health Solutions
I’ll be joining colleagues from the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, and American Public Health Association on the first day of the meeting to frame up the problem of extreme heat. As an advocate, however, I’m always eager to get to solutions. I especially look forward to hearing about lessons learned from last year’s deadly heat dome in the Pacific Northwest, the role of heat-safe housing in climate adaptation, and what local leaders need to help their communities thrive in a hotter world.
A Strong Federal Commitment to Address Deadly Heat
A veritable alphabet soup of federal agencies will participate in the three-day meeting, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and more. This is important, because heat touches every aspect of our lives—and each of these agencies has a unique role in keeping the American public safe.
I’ll particularly be listening for three items from the Biden administration:
- Strong new heat-health commitments from the White House as we head into a potentially long, hot summer;
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s progress toward, and timeline for, heat safeguards for workers; and
- How agencies will better incorporate heat into the next iteration of their climate adaptation plans.
What the Broader Heat-Health Community is Up To
Meeting attendees will have multiple networking opportunities outside the formal presentations. For example, maternal health advocates and allies will connect at 4 pm Eastern Time on April 26 to discuss intersections between extreme heat, the climate crisis, and the maternal health crisis. This session and others will be vital opportunities to spark new conversations and collaborations between people who may not typically interact.
What’s Next for NIHHIS
Finally, we’ll hear about where NIHHIS is headed next. On Day 1, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) will discuss legislation NRDC endorsed last year that would ensure NIHHIS has a formal mandate and dedicated funding from Congress. And to close out the meeting, leaders from NOAA and CDC will introduce the draft five-year plan for NIHHIS and solicit audience feedback on how agencies can best help create a heat-resilient nation.
Interested in joining the conversation? Register here for free or watch a recording here after the event.