What is your job?
Chief Heat Officer for the city of Athens. I wake up every morning thinking about how to make Athens and other urban settings around the world greener and cooler. I also work to establish early warning systems and policies that will protect those most vulnerable to rising heat.
How are you helping cool the planet through your work?
Intense heat that creates dangerous conditions in city centers is the deadliest of all extreme weather. This is increasing in intensity and duration due to climate change. We need to strengthen urban heat resilience by incorporating materially more natural systems into our urban fabric. This will help both cool cities and reduce emissions by capturing and storing carbon dioxide in vegetation and soil. Already, green areas cool European cities by 1.07 °C on average, and up to 2.9 °C. But for every 1° C drop in urban temperatures, the tree canopy needs to grow at 16% more; more than 25% of our urban dwellers live in areas with less coverage.
What most surprised you about your job?
The deep knowledge and care that many public servants in city parks departments develop for urban nature. And the stubborn attachment to concrete and gray infrastructure by both the public and private sectors.
What can we do to get more young people into public service?
Engage them in co-designing solutions for the cities in which they live. We need to empower young people by making them part of the decision-making, design, and implementation process of projects, from strategic planning, to park conservation, to participating in or managing the rollout of public art projects. This will create more transparency, trust, and care for the public realm and our commons.