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Resilient Cities Network and Yale University Join Forces To Tackle the Impact of Climate Change on Public Health in Cities

Urban Pulse: Climate, Health, and Equity in Action, an urban health scoping initiative, will amplify the known impacts of climate change on urban public health and contribute to the knowledge pool through capacity-building and innovative tools. By way of research, policy and stakeholder engagement, it will identify replicable public health solutions that address climate concerns in cities, with a particular focus on low and middle-income cities.

New York | December 3, 2023 — Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) and Yale University, through collaboration across the Yale Schools of Public Health, Environment, and Nursing, with generous support from The Rockefeller Foundation, are embarking on an initiative to identify and promote cutting-edge solutions that are helping cities address climate-related health challenges, preventing millions of deaths and direct health costs associated with climate change.

The initiative, Urban Pulse, is a response to an increasing body of evidence that climate-related shocks and stresses have growing impact on the health of populations across the world. As the planet warms, the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events increase, impacting physical and mental health both directly and indirectly. Changing climates also often create favorable conditions for infectious diseases while exacerbating water scarcity and food insecurity.

Cities, home to a growing percentage of the global population, often face the most severe health impacts while contributing substantially to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. On the frontline of these issues, they are also spearheading the creation of innovative solutions to these intensifying challenges.

“With more than half of the world’s population already living in cities, global health will increasingly be determined by cities,” said Professor Jeannette Ickovics, Yale School of Public Health. “This will be most acute in low- and middle-income countries, where rapid urbanization is profoundly affecting health due to climate threats exacerbated by inequalities. The good news is that many cities are already developing solutions to prevent their communities from interconnected climate and health shocks and stressors. The Urban Pulse initiative will help strengthen and scale these efforts,” added Ickovics.

According to the “Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: the Imperative for a Health-centered Response in a World Facing Irreversible Harms” published by the Lancet Countdown earlier this month in the lead-up to COP28, unless urgently rectified, the world is heading to a potentially catastrophic 2·7°C of heating by 2100. Even if the rise in temperatures is limited to 2°C, heat-related deaths are projected to increase by 370% by mid-century. People are also experiencing more and more days of heatwaves every year. From 2018 to 2022, people experienced an average of 86 days of health-threatening high temperatures annually.

Urban governance in many cities worldwide is siloed, with disconnected teams addressing health and mental health, disaster recovery, social services, land-use planning, and infrastructure. This approach can diminish a city’s ability to look holistically at interconnected challenges such as climate change and public health.

“Indeed, cities are systems that need to be thought of, planned and managed as such, and not in siloes,” said Karl Astbury, Urban Pulse Lead and Programs Consultant, Resilient Cities Network. “And we know cities are not just risk hotspots. They are also innovation hubs where climate and health solutions are being developed, and we’re here to amplify and scale those efforts and further inspire cities worldwide,” added Astbury.

Urban Pulse is looking for interventions that build the resilience of its systems, including blue, green, and grey infrastructure, services and organizations, to direct and indirect climate-related shocks and stresses while achieving optimal health outcomes. For example, the Chennai Resilience Centre’s Urban Farming Initiative (CUFI) was developed during Covid-19 to provide affordable, nutritious food to low-income, vulnerable communities by providing community members with garden kits and training to care for their gardens. The gardens provide several benefits to the community: they serve as cooling centers that mitigate urban heat, they promote food sovereignty and food circularity, and they promote healthy lifestyles that can prevent chronic illnesses like malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. In addition, the gardens also participate in biological carbon sequestration.

“The climate and health crises require bold action. We’re excited to support a team of international experts to turn research into actionable and scalable solutions that are globally relevant. Urban Pulse is not just talking about problems; it is actively seeking and testing solutions that cities can implement now to protect the health of vulnerable populations from climate change,” explained Manisha Bhinge, Managing Director of Health, The Rockefeller Foundation.

Beyond collating and amplifying cutting-edge solutions, Urban Pulse will help build capacity in cities and foster spaces where local governments, urban and health practitioners, and multiple stakeholders come together to exchange, collaborate, and help expedite the adoption of evidence-based solutions to build a healthier, more sustainable and resilient future for all.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We make big bets to promote the well-being of humanity. Today, we are focused on advancing human opportunity and reversing the climate crisis by transforming systems in food, health, energy, and finance. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on X @RockefellerFdn.

About Resilient Cities Network

Resilient Cities Network is the world’s leading urban resilience network. It brings together global knowledge, practice, partnerships, and funding to empower its members to build safe and equitable cities for all. Its unique city-led approach ensures cities drive the agenda to benefit the communities they serve. At work in 100 cities worldwide, the Resilient Cities Network supports on-the-ground projects and solutions to build climate resilient, circular and equitable cities while also facilitating connections and information-sharing between communities and local leaders. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts

Colin Poitras
Yale University

Fabiola Guillen
Resilient Cities Network