What is a Chief Heat Officer?
Extreme heat already poses great risks to cities. As a result of the urban heat island effect, cities face climate change costs that are more than twice as high as the rest of the world.
One of the challenges of protecting people from heat is that the responsibility for heat-related issues is spread across many agencies and people.
To overcome this challenge, Arsht-Rock and the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA) created and piloted the world’s first Chief Heat Officers (CHOs), officials charged with unifying the response to the challenge of heat to reduce the risks and impacts of extreme heat for their residents and constituents.
We work hand-in-hand with the CHOs to identify, develop, and implement strategies and priorities, accelerating heat resilience in the short term, and laying a foundation for sustained resilience in the medium, and long term.
Why do cities need Chief Heat Officers?
About 20 percent of the most populated cities in the world could warm by more than 4°C by 2050 and about 25 percent could warm by more than 7°C by 2100. The average city could lose about 1.4–1.7 percent of GDP by 2050 and 2.3–5.6 percent of GDP by 2100 to heat-related losses, and the worst-off cities could lose 10.9 percent of GDP to heat by 2100.
What does a Chief Heat Officer do?
Knowing that the risks of heat are high and the opportunities to implement heat-resilience solutions are vast, Arsht-Rock and EHRA identified a need for local officials devoted to heat action: Chief Heat Officers.
A major challenge in tackling heat at the city level is that many departments oversee heat wave-related preparedness, response, and recovery. On top of that, a group of community organizations and other stakeholders may touch different aspects of this issue. By putting one person in charge of coordinating dispersed efforts both inside city government and across the private sector, this role helps to break down silos. Chief Heat Officers core responsibilities include:
- Raise awareness of extreme heat risk and solutions with their constituents and with their peers
- Work to improve planning and response to heat waves
- Coordinate stakeholders
- Implement long-term heat risk-reduction and cooling projects
How are Chief Heat Officers appointed?
Chief Heat Officers are appointed by local officials who choose to lead on heat action. When mayors or other leaders dedicate an officer position and appropriate resources to heat, they are investing in a more climate-resilient future and reducing current losses in lives and livelihoods to heat.
Arsht-Rock is committed to piloting a CHO on each continent. We have developed job descriptions and engaged our EHRA members to fully support the goals and activities of the CHOs.
Meet the world’s first Chief Heat Officers
Miami Dade County, Florida, USA, Athens, Greece, and Freetown, Sierra Leone are among the first cities to appoint Chief Heat Officers.