Photo taken on July 22, 2021 shows Lenio Myrivili, the first Chief Heat Officer (CHO) in Greece and across Europe, also an experienced expert in Urban Resilience and Climate Adaptation. (Photo by Lefteris Partsalis/Xinhua)
ATHENS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Heat is coming to the front among the problems resulting from climate change, and Athens, as an urban "heat island" with a dense population, should bring more nature into the city, Lenio Myrivili, the first-ever Chief Heat Officer (CHO) of the Greek capital, has said.
Myrivili, an experienced expert in Urban Resilience and Climate Adaptation, was announced by Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis on Friday as the city's CHO, the first of its kind in Greece and across Europe.
"It acknowledges the fact that heat is becoming more and more an issue for cities that we have to take seriously, and we have to start really mobilizing around," Myrivili told Xinhua in a recent interview.
She said that the world has been talking about global warming, sea-level rise and different types of extreme weather phenomena that are instigated because of climate change, but did not pay more attention to heat.
"Now it's coming to the front," she said.
According to scientific research, the Greek capital is one of the most vulnerable cities across Europe to rising temperatures and heatwaves, which are becoming increasingly frequent.
Heat contributes to the deaths of more than 200 people each year on average in Athens and the number is expected to double by 2030. "Unless we take effective action immediately," Bakoyannis said at Friday's press conference.
Under the moderate scenario in the next few decades, Greece may have a mean rise of temperature in the summer months between 2-3.8 degrees Celsius, which means 15-20 days of heatwaves more per year and 12 percent less rainfall per year on average, Myrivili said.
Athens faces a 2-2.5 degrees Celsius rise by 2060, which is "really significant," she added.
"The role of the Chief Heat Officer is to have somebody in the city who wakes up every morning thinking about ... how the city can protect the most vulnerable people to heat, and how the city can be redesigned to become cooler and more livable in the years to come," she said.
Myrivili is tasked to coordinate and accelerate efforts aimed at saving lives from extreme heat by building up a short-term and long-term strategy against the effects of climate emergency.
"One is awareness-raising. The other one is the protection of the most vulnerable and making sure that we have in place ready-to-use things that we will need when temperatures are really high," she said.
"The third thing is to change the city, to make the city much more green, much bluer and actually much more healthy and desirable for both locals and visitors," she told Xinhua, outlining her plans.
"We need to bring nature into the city and this is...a very dry city that has a lot of impervious surfaces," she said, noting almost 80 percent of its surfaces are impervious and dark, and attract heat.
She advised bringing more elements of water and tree canopies into the city.
Myrivili also called for increasing funding and international cooperation.
"We are realizing that unless we do something now, we're not going to be able to do it later," she said. Enditem