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SP35 - Heatwaves and urban resilience: citizen, government, and private sector responses

Convened by Sylvia Bergh (International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands) and Lize Swartz (ISS)

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A summer marked by heatwaves that have been unprecedented in their spread, intensity and frequency has made clear the importance of better understanding this phenomenon. In urban contexts, heatwaves have been felt most acutely by vulnerable population groups that include the elderly, people with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and disabilities, those working outdoors (construction workers, street vendors, etc.), and the homeless, as well as refugees and IDPs living in camps. 

This seed panel will focus on how negative health and other risks can be reduced through understandings of how vulnerable population groups in urban contexts interact with heatwaves and related policy responses. We invite academics and practitioners to present their (preliminary) findings and experiences on the following topics, preferably in the form of case studies:

  • How vulnerable population groups understand heatwaves. How do vulnerable population groups make sense of heatwaves, especially in their own communities and social networks? Which forms of knowledge are used to understand risks associated with heatwaves? How are these accessed?
  • How vulnerable population groups respond to heatwaves. Which solutions have vulnerable population groups developed in response to heatwaves? What role does social learning play? How is knowledge shared within and beyond communities and country borders, e.g. through social media?
  • How vulnerable population groups interact with government and private sector responses to heatwaves. How do local government responses aim to reduce the vulnerability of targeted population groups to heatwaves, in particular heat-health risk communication and heat-health action plans? How can the understandings and uptake of government measures be improved? Likewise, which solutions have private sector entrepreneurs developed and how are they received by these groups? What is needed to ensure wider uptake?

The aim of the panel is to inventorize existing academic and practical knowledge on this topic and define promising lines of future research.