Developing urban resilience in Haifa: preparedness to climate change in health and welfare agencies

M Negev, H Levine, T Zohar, H Nouman, M Zohar, S Paz

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Extreme climate events (wildfires, floods, heatwaves, cold spells) are becoming more frequent in the Mediterranean, but adaptation levels in the health and welfare sectors remain low. The city of Haifa in northern Israel is prone to both war and extreme climate events. Focusing on Haifa, we aim to 1) examine local officials' risk perceptions of different extreme events, 2) compare preparedness to war vs. climate events, and 3) conduct a spatial analysis of climate and health vulnerabilities.Mixed-Methods: a qualitative component including 30 in-depth interviews with local government health and welfare officials, and a qualitative component that includes mapping vulnerability indicators such as socio-economic status, recipients of welfare allowances, and temperature, focusing on urban heat islands.The city of Haifa developed a comprehensive resilience policy for war and wildfire. However, there is no awareness or preparedness for other climate events that have not yet been experienced. Similarly, hospitals are prepared for emergencies, but not for extreme climate events. There are no national budget or guidelines for climate adaptation at the city level or in hospitals. Correspondingly, risk perceptions of climate change among health and welfare officials remain low. At the city level, social and climatic vulnerabilities are correlated, so that downtown neighborhoods are characterized by poorer socio-economic, health and welfare conditions, and higher summer temperatures.Haifa has good preparedness for events that had been experienced in the past. While emergency preparedness provides a good infrastructure for climate change preparedness, awareness and adaptation to the unique aspects of climate change preparations are needed, including reference to related spatial dimensions. Identifying the gaps between preparedness to various emergency events, can contribute to better climate change preparedness at the local level.In the city of Haifa, emergency preparedness exists but is not extended to extreme climate events, and awareness to health risks of climate change remains low in the health and welfare agencies.Learning from emergency preparedness to wars, wildfires and earthquakes may contribute to enhancing preparedness to extreme climate events at the local level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupplement_5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

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