Heat wave | How have these cities managed to keep temperatures down despite increasingly hot summers? | Extreme Weather | Global Warming | Green Runners | | the world

Tumbes and Piura regions will cross 40°C this week. Last Thursday, Lima and Callo reached 25°C at night, and the thermometer is expected to exceed 35°C in some parts of the capital in the coming days. Chenamhi It has also warned that the scorching summer will last till March.

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This phenomenon, far from being an exception, responds to a pronounced global trend since 2015, according to data from the Climate Change Service – Copernicus of the European Union.

The frequency of heat waves has almost tripled compared to the beginning of the 20th century. Heat kills. Climate phenomena are the world's leading cause of death”, engineer Alejandro Sáez Reale, member of the Global Information Network on Heat and Health, warned the Argentinian newspaper “La Nación”.

Faced with this intractable situation, various cities have explored various strategies to mitigate high temperatures in recent years. The same medium exemplifies in this sense what Seoul, Rotterdam, Singapore, Los Angeles, New York and Medellin have done.

Angels

Since 2017, they have covered more than 290 kilometers of pavement with a material that reflects sunlight. Thanks to this, they have reduced the ambient temperature by up to 3 degrees.

Singapore

They have a comprehensive plan to cool the city through infrastructural improvements, varying building heights and incentives for developers of green gardens.

Netherlands

The cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam replaced around 95,000 pavement tiles with trees, shrubs and small plants.

Seoul

The Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs through central Seoul, was covered by concrete and highway for many years. The stream was restored in 2003 and 6 km of green corridors and 400 hectares of parks were created. This cooled the area by three to five degrees.

– Green Corridors of Medellin –

In 2019, the city of Medellin received two prestigious awards. It first won the Ashton Prize in the “Cooling by Nature” category, and a few months later it was recognized by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation in the “The Resilient Future We Want” category.

The reason for recognizing the capital of Antioquia is the 350 thousand square meters of gardens until then, 8 thousand of which are the so-called green corridors. The latter is an initiative that emerged in 2016 and to date has 30 corridors, in addition to 124 parks, that seek to connect the green areas of the city through vegetated and shaded pathways.

To begin with, we must remember that the city of Medellin is crossed by water and mountains. There are different mountains, 4,215 valleys and hundreds of parks. Unfortunately, the early development of Medellin revolved around private cars and cement, but in recent decades initiatives have been taken to ensure that the city is connected to biodiversity. The Green Corridors did not start in 2016, but are the result of decades of collaborative practice by the Mayor's office, private sectors, civil society and NGOs. city“, explains Trade Camilo Quintero, former Undersecretary of Natural Resources at Medellin's Environment Secretariat.

In that sense, Quintero exemplifies the Más Bosques para Medellin project launched in 2014 and which can be considered the true origin of the now popular project.

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The results of green corridors are undeniable, it is estimated that they have reduced the temperature by up to 2 degrees Celsius in the areas where they exist, thus reducing the number of heat islands, because the sectors that accumulate high temperatures in cities are known for various factors such as pollution or the dominance of concrete over vegetation.

Undoubtedly, one of the results of green corridors is related to mitigation of heat islands. That is important considering that we are currently facing an El Niño event, a dry season and a climate crisis. It is important that the effects of these three events are not large. But it has to do with biodiversity, because monarch butterflies, more parrots, more birds and other species that enrich our biodiversity have returned to Medellín. It works as a noise dampener and adsorbs pollutant particles, so it has an impact on air quality. More importantly, more wooded areas improve the lives of citizens, creating a sense of peace and freshness, the most important effects to be achieved in a city.” says Quintero.

– Political will –

Until 2020, the green corridors had a very important boost, unfortunately between 2020 and 2024, poor management led to the project going into crisis. However, the corridors are still there, the project has not collapsed, but the maintenance has decreased. That doesn't detract from the city's historic effort, though”, comments Quintero.

For this reason, the environmental lawyer and expert in political philosophy assures that the success of this type of project is based on two fundamental pillars: the will of the authorities and with it a solid state policy.

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It is necessary to complement it with different actions. These types of projects should not be the job of a mayor, but the job of a city in the medium and long term. One administration may support it and another may not, creating serious financial problems. That's why continuity is important no matter who the mayor is. That's why the Green and Biodiversity Cities Bill is being proposed in Colombia, which seeks to ensure that other cities implement similar measures in Medellin.“, explain.

Quintero encourages more cities to follow Medellin's example, saying the results achieved through these projects justify the investment required for their implementation.

There are still many elements and actions that need to be taken into account to ensure that these programs have the greatest benefits, taking into account the environmental phenomena that cause higher temperatures and higher precipitation. It is important to strengthen these projects, to allocate more budgets, and for more cities to know and dare to bet on these projects, which have very important benefits in the short, medium and long term, not only for the environment, but also for the economy, society and culture. It is important that other cities in Latin America allocate a strong budget to this. Along with green corridors, public spaces are recovered, in Medellin 400 thousand meters of public space were intervened and another 180 thousand meters were created, which is very important to achieve sustainable development of cities.“, explain.

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