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The deadliest severe weather phenomenon is something you might not realize: extreme heat.
Eleni Myrivili, chief heat officer of the city of Athens, Greece, explains that extreme heat and heat waves are often overlooked because they’re not as dramatic as flooding or hurricanes – and breaks down three approaches to keep cities cool in a time of rapid global temperature rise. “Cranking up the air conditioner is just not going to cut it,” she says.
Myrivili wants cities to prepare for extreme heat by developing and adopting climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. For her, this work starts in her home city of Athens, where she was appointed Europe’s first chief heat officer in 2021. She’s been using the position to raise awareness of the dangers of extreme heat and co-create and co-design a greener, cooler future for all.
In June 2022, through her role as a senior advisor at Arsht Rock Resilience Center — and following a memorandum of understanding that Arsht Rock signed with the UN Habitat — Myrivili was named the first-ever global chief heat officer. Her focus is to work on promoting a heat resilience agenda at UN Habitat, the United Nations’ program for human settlements and sustainable urban development.
Myrivili has advocated for an environmental, nature-positive and climate-neutral agenda for more than two decades. A tenured assistant professor at the University of the Aegean, she was elected and has served as Deputy Mayor for the City of Athens, where she designed the “Athens Resilience Strategy for 2030” with the collaboration of hundreds.