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Tackling urban heatwaves - when procurement becomes an emergency

6 August 2019

The global climate crisis leads to more frequent and more intense heatwaves in Europe, posing a great threat to health of citizens, supply-chains and infrastructure. In response to the urgent need to adapt to the ‘new-normal’, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies recently published 'Heatwaves - Guide for Cities'. The guide aims to help city staff take the first steps to understanding the heat risks they face, develop an early-warning system, work with partners to consolidate heat-action plans, and adapt urban-planning practices.

However, awareness and implementation of solutions need to go beyond planning, risk managing and public health per se. How can procurement help? Can products and services be tendered based on their heat-resilience?

An article from 2018 on CIPS, emphasised the need to change procurement rules to '... not spend public money on infrastructure which is not resilient to heatwaves.' For example, this is critical for highways, other public roads and pavements, which are at risk of melting in the heat. Leveraging procurement as adaptation measure could mean to source heat resilient (e.g. reflective or permeable) material for when roads are being re-surfaced - offering a coping mechanism in high-risk areas. This applies also to energy infrastructure, particularly where it serves critical social services, such as hospitals.

Procurement can help through the purchasing of energy-efficient medical devices, which are not only advantageous in terms of resilience but also a gain for carbon footprint reduction. Passive cooling strategies for buildings, and access to diverse sources of renewable energy, also have a crucial role to play in reducing the risk of energy supply failure during a heatwave – ideally as part of an overall Energy Management System.

Access the full Guide for Cities here.