By mid-century, heat waves are expected to affect more than 3.5 billion people globally, with cities heating up at twice the global average rate due to urban heat island effects. The average city could warm as much as 4°C by 2100 with catastrophic effects on public health, livelihoods, and the climate. The urban poor will remain most vulnerable to medical conditions exacerbated by heat, a general lack of awareness of heat risks, and lack of access to cooling measures to mitigate the effects of heat.

For those who can afford it, the default response is to purchase the most affordable air conditioners, likely not efficient. This comes with severe consequences, creating a vicious cycle where the emissions and waste heat that further warms our cities and our planet, necessitating even more cooling, and further compounding the equity divide for those who are unable to afford access.

A whole-system approach is key to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of extreme heat. This includes incorporating solutions at multiple scales — the household (superefficient RACs), building (thermally efficient design and construction), neighbourhood (district cooling, shading, cool surfaces), and city (awareness and education, nature-based solutions, heat-resilient planning).

Against this backdrop, the Cool Coalition Secretariat convened UNEP, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, Mission Innovation, the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance and RMI to kickstart a dedicated working group on Extreme Heat and Urban Cooling Working. The objective is to raise awareness and develop knowledge and decision-making tools to provide governments with an accessible pathway and clear actions on how to tackle rising temperatures and keep their cities cool sustainably.

Objectives: Following efforts to develop and disseminate the Handbook, in consultation with members and steering committee, Cool Coalition Members have come together to support governments at the local, sub-national and national level to develop further guidance on how to develop extreme heat strategies, piloting comprehensive urban cooling approaches, and creating additional tools to help planners and developers identifying the most suitable solutions for their communities.


Awareness Raising Bring extreme heat and sustainable urban cooling to the forefront of the climate debate, connect sustainable urban cooling to extreme heat, raise awareness with local and national governments
Strategy Support  Develop and strengthen tool to support decision-making and strategy development for governments on heat action and sustainable urban cooling solutions.
Capacity Building Deliver training series for country and city governments to increase capacity in taking action on extreme heat through implementation of affordable, proven sustainable cooling.
Catalysing Action Support cities and countries in showcasing real-life adoption of comprehensive strategies and solutions and support access to finance for implementation. 



  • Co-Lead: Graeme Maidment, Mission Innovation
  • Co-Lead:
    • Kurt Shickman, Director of Extreme Heat Initiatives, Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center,
    • Owen Gow, Associate Director of Extreme Heat Initiatives, Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center,
  • Facilitator: Irene Fagotto, Analyst, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),