Cities and Urbanization

UN Global Chief Heat Officer urges COP28 action and other city-focused stories you need to read

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Top city and urbanization stories: UN's Chief Heat Officer urges 'decisive' action at COP28; and more.

Top city and urbanization stories: UN's Chief Heat Officer urges 'decisive' action at COP28; and more. Image: Reuters/Jon Nazca

Lisa Chamberlain
Communication Lead, Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum

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  • This monthly round-up brings you some of the latest news on cities and urbanization.
  • Top city and urbanization stories: UN's Chief Heat Officer urges 'decisive' action at COP28; Chinese cities ease restrictions on house buying to boost property market; Paris expands urban cooling system.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s city-focused work, visit the Urban Transformation Hub.

1. UN Chief Heat Officer urges for decisive action at COP28

The United Nations' first Global Chief Heat Officer, Eleni Myrivili, is urging political leaders to take decisive action to address rapidly rising temperatures in cities, particularly in poorer countries.

Speaking at the Reuters IMPACT conference, she expressed concern about the severe impact of this summer's heat and warned it was a "turning point".

Myrivili is calling for leaders at COP28 in November to move from "generalities" to decisive action, adding that she is most worried about cities in poorer countries that lack the funds to adapt.

"There are a lot of countries that have a lot of informal housing, a lot of informal labour and a lot of poverty, and that's where heat becomes the real killer."

June, July and August Global Temperature Anomaly.
Summer 2023 was the hottest on record, according to NASA. Image: NASA's Earth Observatory/Lauren Dauphin

It comes as NASA announced that this year's Northern Hemisphere summer was the hottest on record, with June, July, and August 0.23°C warmer than any other summer in NASA’s record.

“Summer 2023’s record-setting temperatures aren’t just a set of numbers – they result in dire real-world consequences," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

"From sweltering temperatures in Arizona and across the US, to wildfires across Canada, and extreme flooding in Europe and Asia, extreme weather is threatening lives and livelihoods around the world."

2. Chinese cities lift home-buying restrictions to boost market

Cities across China have lifted restrictions on the buying and selling of homes to ease the property crisis in the country.

In the first few weeks of September, Qingdao, Jinan, Nanjing, Dalian and Shenyang all lifted measures on the number of homes that could be bought and sold, Reuters reports.

On 21 September, Guangzhou became the first tier-one city to follow suit, allowing residents to buy more than one home in more districts, reported the South China Morning Post.

Analysts expect other cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, to make similar moves.

The country has introduced other measures to boost the market, including cutting interest rates on existing mortgages.

The property market accounts for around a quarter of China's economy, but it began slowing down after the government imposed strict rules in 2021 to prevent developers getting further into debt.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to promote sustainable urban development?

3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month

Paris intends to expand its urban cooling system, which uses water from the River Seine, to meet the growing need for air conditioning and reduce carbon emissions. It is currently the largest cooling network in Europe and serves various locations in the city, including the Grand Palais, which will be used in the Olympics.

House prices in Germany have experienced their largest drop since records began. Prices fell 9.9% year-on-year for residential properties in the second quarter, the sharpest decrease since 2000.

The United States and India will work together on a project to roll out 10,000 Indian-made electric buses in Indian cities.

It comes as Uber launched its first electric motorbike service in Africa. The scheme in Kenya is part of the ride-hailing platform's aim to become emissions-free by 2040.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has inaugurated the first elevated rail line for Greater Jakarta. The $2.13 billion project is intended to alleviate road congestion and improve air quality.


4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

Thousands of 'ghost' airports around the world are waiting to be redeveloped. Some of these airports are prime redevelopment opportunities if they fit a few basic criteria. From Hong Kong to Athens, a handful of large-scale airport redevelopment projects are showing the way.

Community engagement in urban redevelopment initiatives often fails to achieve intended goals. Three experts explain how community co-design shifts the focus away from designing for stakeholders to designing with stakeholders, by bringing diverse groups of engaged citizens into the design process.

Differences of opinion on how to reach net zero could slow global progress on decarbonization goals, warns a new report from Siemens. The Transition Monitor 2023 outlines the divisive issues key to the urban infrastructure transformation, and some ways to speed up the process.

1. UN Chief Heat Officer urges for decisive action at COP282. Chinese cities lift home-buying restrictions to boost market3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month 4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

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