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Passive Urban Cooling Solutions

Open Learning Campus - World Bank Group via edX


By 2070, 1 out of every 3 people worldwide will live in areas with mean annual temperatures of more than 29°C – temperatures that are more than double what most humans have lived in for most of human history. These conditions currently existing in under 1% of the Earth today. Rising temperatures will have a profound effect on human health, economic productivity, and nearly every facet of urban life. Technical and policy solutions are needed now to cool our urban areas and to help populations adapt to rising temperatures.

In 2020, to encourage more rapid adoption of urban cooling solutions to improve the heat resiliency of cities, the World Bank published a detailed handbook covering the characteristics of rising urban temperatures, the challenges it presents, and ways cities can respond: Primer for Cool Cities: Reducing Urban Heat (the Primer).

Developed by the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the Global Sustainable Cities Platform (GSCP), the Primer details the functions, use cases, and economics of the major technical urban passive cooling solutions available to cities today. It articulates an approach to designing and implementing effective heat resiliency and urban cooling strategies and provides a list of urban cooling policies adopted by cities. Case studies are included throughout.


Week 1: Introduction to Excessive Heat and Urban Cooling __

The week will introduce the concept of rising urban temperatures as a key resiliency challenge for cities. It will explore the current macro-trends driving urban heat and the nature and causes of the urban heat island phenomenon. The week will also review heat’s wide-ranging negative effects on urban systems and populations.

Week 2: Technical Urban Cooling Solutions and Barriers to Implementation __

This week will introduce the concept of passive and active urban cooling and present a series of technical solutions to facilitate passive urban cooling. This week also explores the unique barriers to implementing technical passive urban cooling solutions that have slowed wide-scale adoption of these solutions in both the developed and developing world.

Week 3: Policies and Programs for Cooler Cities __

This week will focus on how cities can develop effective policies and programs to implement technical passive urban cooling solutions. This week articulates a framework to encourage an inclusive, multi-stakeholder policy development process that incorporates multiple technical urban cooling solutions and establishes measurable goals. This week highlights and categorizes existing urban cooling policies implemented by cities around the world. Finally, this week reviews how these policies and programs are financed, with recommendations for how cities can increase the availability of funding and financing to support urban cooling efforts.

Week 4: Summary Recommendations for Cities __

This week concludes the eLearning Course with general recommendations to develop and implement passive urban cooling solutions and policies, drawn from some of the common good practices adopted by cities from around the world. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to urban cooling, there are a few policies and strategies that appear in a number of effective urban cooling efforts undertaken by cities around the world that are summarized here.

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