0 of 0 for ""

Urban Insight – How heat resilient are European cities?

Europe as the fastest warming continent, faces rising temperatures and heat-related mortality rates due to climate change. 2023 saw a record number of days with extreme heat. Sweco’s analysis of 24 European cities highlights the urgent need for heat wave mitigation and resilience – through digital innovation, nature-based solutions and green-blue infrastructure, and designing high-performing buildings.

Heat striking hard in Europe

The European State of the Global Climate 2023 report shows that Europe is the continent where warming is occurring most rapidly, with temperatures rising approximately twice as fast as the global average.The Urban Heat Island, UHI, effect exacerbates this issue, leading to significantly faster surface warming in cities compared to rural areas. These extreme heat events pose significant risks to public health, energy infrastructure, and economic productivity in urban areas.

Despite these risks, heat-related concerns are often overlooked in cities’ climate plans.


Analysing cities climate resilience

To discover more about the readiness of European cities in addressing heatwaves, Sweco conducted a study of adaptation and resilience practices across 24 European cities, and six primary case study cities, analysing climate resilience policies and heatwave data. All of these cities are set to experience at least double the number of heatwave days in 2100 compared with 2020.

For example, Brussels sees city temperatures up to 8°C higher than surrounding rural areas. Moderate heat stress days in Brussels are expected to rise by 150% from 2020 to 2100, adding nine more days annually.

heath map brussels

Now it’s time European cities level up their heat policy, by implementing new methods that help cool cities off. It can be done, and there is an array of solutions to this.


Séverine Hermand, Climate Resilience expert en co-writer of the report

Need for heat strategies

Insights from the analysis highlight the need for comprehensive heatwave response strategies. While some progress has been made, there is still a gap in urban heatwave adaptation policies, especially concerning vulnerable populations. This is compounded by a lack of detailed data and vulnerability mapping across cities, hindering monitoring and evaluation of existing adaptation policies.

Sweco’s key recommendations in the report:

  • Invest in granular data: Increase vulnerability mapping, better monitoring and evaluation e.g. by digital twins and GIS spatial mapping.
  • Enable innovation and co-creation: Nature-based design solutions at the building and neighbourhood scale.
  • Pursue transparent and collaborative governance: Investments in knowledge, data-driven heat management and joint planning in a heatwave crisis.
  • Decide on a long-term vision: Authorities and policy makers must establish more efficient and modern strategies to protect vulnerable


Urgent action is needed to mitigate heatwave impacts, build resilience, and create sustainable environments for all residents.