Heat risks remain a silent disaster. The First Global Forum on Heat and Health, held in Hong Kong, China, from 17 to 20 December 2018, addressed that challenge and launched the Global Heat Health Information Network (the Network). Over the four-day event, 120 interdisciplinary practitioners and researchers from 33 countries provided fresh, real-world perspectives on heat health risk management across diverse fields, such as medical science, urban planning, meteorology, and economics.
Experts from 15 national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) reviewed observed trends in extreme heat across different regions, and explored the actions and innovations being taken by governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)to address heat-related risks. A day of technical discussions examined the state of implementation and identified priorities across five holistic pillars of action to guide the Network:
Partnerships and capacity building
Data, science, and research for understanding health risks of heat
Climate and weather information for decision-making and action
Interventions and actions to prevent heat exposure and negative health outcomes
Communications and outreach.
The Forum dedicated a full day to building communication skills and experience sharing. A public debate illustrated diverse perspectives, and a Master Class allowed broadcast meteorologists, forecasters, health authorities, and other experts to share advice and lessons for effectively communicating health risks of heatwaves. A catastrophic large-scale emergency extreme heat event simulation exercise allowed participants to practice developing timely, clear and concise communication with the public, media, governments and stakeholders.
Participants affirmed the Network would fill a gap for technical cooperation and shared learning between interdisciplinary expert academic and practice communities. A joint initiative spearheaded by the WHO/WMO Joint Office for Climate and Health and U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Network aims to leverage the collective expertise of scientists and practitioners in government, private industry, and other organizations to support demand driven research and action for heat risk management.