272303 Urban interventions to advance community resilience to climate variability and climate change

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 2:50 PM - 3:10 PM

Jan C. Semenza, PhD, MPH, MS , Office of the Chief Scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden
Urban communities are particularly at risk for the adverse health outcomes from extreme weather events and climate change. High population densities in urban centers where people work, live and spend leisure time is the setting where urban dwellers are collectively exposed to the built environment, meteorological conditions, air, water, etc. Moreover, the unpredictable nature of climate change poses considerable challenges to public health because it acts as a multiplier on existing exposure pathways and thus exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in metropolitan centers. For example, urban areas tend to be at increased risk from heat waves because urban climates are often warmer than un-built surroundings. Two interconnected interventions are presented here (social and built environment). Social interventions advance bonding, bridging, and linking social capital and enhance community capacity and resilience. By promoting social networks community members are engaged in direct social action to improve the built environment. Intervening in urban neighborhoods can attenuate the negative consequences of climatic events through physical improvements of urban features. Climate change adaptation projects built by community members include green roofs to reduce rooftop temperatures; urban gardens to cool the air through transpiration; urban vegetation to increase shading of buildings; cool pavements to reduce heat absorbance of streets; bioswales to drain surface runoff and remove silt and pollution; etc These interventions were subjected to program and process evaluation and shown to advance collective efficacy by engaging community members in direct social action that augments social capital and resilience towards climate change stressors.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Define climate change vulnerabilities of urban populations Explain how social capital can be advanced in urban settings Describe the public health benefits of environmental and social interventions in regards to climate change threats

Keywords: Environment, Intervention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.