Thursday, March 28, 2024

ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: Thank you all for that incredibly rich discussion. And thanks to all our participants today, we know we only scratched the surface. But at a time when some have grown numb to 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 that it poses to human life, to be motivated by those dangers. 

Djiboutian President [Ismail Omar] Guelleh put it well, when he warned that many parts of his region in the Horn of Africa, risk being uninhabitable – I mean that those are the stakes. Mayor [Yvonne Aki-]Sawyerr brought home the acute risks to communities that don't have the luxury of turning on the air conditioning. She underscored that in many informal settlements, families are grappling not only with the swelter of tin roofs, but also tin walls. And as she put it, I don't think I'll ever forget this, she said, ‘you are effectively living in an oven.’

So our first responsibility, of course, is to limit the further rise in temperatures, which all of us must step up in more aggressive ways to do, especially countries like mine that are large emitters. But at the same time, we can't allow the magnitude of the heat crisis, which is already upon us, to deter us from finding solutions. Addressing rising temperatures, and seeking to mitigate the harms can feel futile because the problem is so big. But we have heard today really important examples of bottom up and top down innovations. From Freetown, “the Treetown,” to the low cost market shades keeping Indian women workers cooler, from building codes and other regulations designed to keep vulnerable communities safe, to the creation right here in the U.S. of, and the urban heat mapping campaigns that are helping identify the hottest neighborhoods so as to inform key actions. We have heard really important examples of how communities can adapt to extreme heat, and we have to spread and scale these lessons, even as we continue to innovate.

To spur more of these inspiring solutions, and to scale the ones we already have, I am pleased to join my colleague Secretary General [Jagan] Chapagain in kicking off a Global Sprint of Action on Extreme Heat. This Sprint, as he mentioned, starts today and will go through June 2. I am pleased to announce here already a few key steps that we are taking as part of the sprint. 

Today, USAID along with the State Department is issuing guidance to all of our federal agencies on how to respond to extreme temperatures overseas. This is the first ever extreme heat guidance for overseas federal workers. We hope it is going to inspire host governments and partner governments to launch similar guidelines. 

As John Podesta mentioned earlier, today USAID also released a global interactive mapping tool to highlight where extreme heat poses the greatest risks to communities. By identifying a community's exposure to extreme heat, and showing how that exposure could grow in the next three decades, the map is going to help leaders plan for the future. And hopefully better allocate resources to support those communities who are most in need. 

We are also expanding support for pilot efforts driven by our teams on the ground to help the most at-risk communities adapt to rising temperatures. In Jordan, our mission is supporting an initial program building heat resilient schools, which use passive heating and cooling systems, thermal insulation, double glazed windows, and air conditioning to mitigate high temperatures. We estimate that our support will help build 30 schools benefiting about 35,000 students in the next two years. And we hope that the effectiveness of these “cool schools” will spur others to build similar structures, not just in Jordan, but around the world.

With extreme heat already threatening communities in Djibouti, as we heard, especially off-grid, rural communities who may not have sufficient water to prevent dehydration or power to run fans, our mission there in Djibouti is supporting an innovative project, spearheaded by Liquidstar, to expand energy and water resources for poor communities. Liquidstar is using solar power to convert humidity – water in the air – into drinking water while using that same solar energy to power a school, a health clinic, and 80 rural households. 

To share more ideas and innovations like these around the world, USAID and IFRC are also launching a central virtual hub to organize and track progress across sectors. That virtual hub is now publicly available starting today at That's And we are calling on everyone to find ways to spur action of their own. 

We are calling on governments to develop heat action plans that identify which communities are most affected by extreme heat, and provide guidance to protect them. We are calling on development agencies, philanthropies, and other donors to recognize the threat that extreme heat poses to humanity, and to put resources towards helping communities withstand that threat. And we are calling on private companies to recognize the threat extreme heat poses to their customers and their operations, and to invest in resilience across their supply chains and consumer bases. 

Climate change demands behavior change. Our survival depends on our ability to come together as a global community to meet evolving threats like extreme heat. I hope you all will join us in that goal so that together we can protect millions of lives. 

Thank you so much.

Watch Here:

Global Summit on Extreme Heat


Join the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for the first Global Summit on Extreme Heat.

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