‘In 2024 we declare extreme heat a priority’

‘In 2024 we declare extreme heat a priority’
29 March 2024

By the IFRC

(This story is an IFRC press release issued yesterday. It has been edited slightly here for length and time references.)

Extreme heat is a silent yet formidable adversary that – without action – will kill thousands in coming years. But as participants at the first-ever global summit on extreme heat heard yesterday, there is plenty that can be done.

The summit was hosted by the IFRC and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It brought together political and civil society leaders, and representatives of the private sector and the world’s most affected communities.

Besides Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General and Samantha Power, USAID Administrator, speakers included John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the (US) President for International Climate Policy, Ismail Omar Guelleh, the president of Djibouti, and Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, among others.

The keynote address was delivered by IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain, who said: “While hurricanes and floods often capture the headlines, extreme heat quietly exacts a toll on lives and livelihoods … In 2024 we declare extreme heat a priority … Let us be the architects of resilience, the enablers of hope.”

Chapagain laid out four key actions that need to take place: protecting the vulnerable, particularly those in urban areas and in marginalized communities; investing in early warning systems and anticipatory actions; forging partnerships across borders; and putting local communities in the driving seat of change.

‘Sprint of action’

USAID Administrator Samantha Power said: “At a time when some have grown numb with increasingly familiar headlines about hottest days on record, we absolutely need to resolve never to get used to the scale of this problem, never to get used to the threat it poses to human life.” 

An online hub for action on heat has been established where people can share experiences and best practice when it comes to tackling extreme heat.

The IFRC and USAID have jointly announced a “sprint of action” on extreme heat which will run up to the global heat action day on 2 June.

Greek Red Cross volunteers providing first aid to firefighters affected by heat and smoke in July 2023. (Photo: Hellenic Red Cross)