San Francisco is linking health and climate change impacts under a program that aims to educate and empower citizens and public agencies to improve resilience.

Climate change is expected to more seriously affect the health and well-being of communities that are least able to prepare for, cope with, and recover from the impacts. For instance, in San Francisco, extreme heat days are projected to increase by up to 40 days per year. To address this challenge, the City and County of San Francisco’s Climate and Health Program is successfully addressing the public health impacts of climate change by leveraging data-driven planning and health indicators to create policies around climate adaptation on a local level.

25% city-wide CO2 reduction by 2017, which this program supports

Cities100 – 2015

By centralizing and formalizing the collection of neighborhood-level data, the program provides neighborhood organizations, city departments, and direct-service providers a simple, streamlined way to access information on climate and health. The Community Resilience Index is a summary of 36 equally weighted indicators from nine categories, such as hazards, environment, housing, economy, and demography. The index scores are visualized on neighborhood-level maps on a website where all data is open-access. The innovative use of data and assessments has initiated a public dialogue on the link between climate change and health, and resulted in actions to strengthen community resilience.

The challenge

For the last decade, cities have invested in developing climate action plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, yet less attention has been paid to developing adaptive measures to protect public health during climate change-related extreme weather events. The Climate and Health Program seeks to re-brand climate change as a public health issue and has partnered with many city agencies to educate them about the health impacts of climate change.


Economic Low-income communities are more sensitive to the economic stresses associated with climate change, such as increased prices for basic needs and threats of job loss, which this program addresses.

Environmental This data-driven approach to tracking the health impacts of climate change supports projects that reduce CO2, reduce risk and vulnerability, improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy production, as well as reduce water use and support sustainable transportation.

Health The program’s use of health and climate data helps the city design solutions that eliminate health disparities.

Social The development of a heat wave and flood disaster response plan, as well as appropriate surveillance and outreach activities, are keeping San Franciscans safe in the event of extreme weather and natural disasters.

About San Francisco

San Francisco is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California and is the fourth-most populous city in California. It has an estimated population of 870,887. A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and its Chinatown district. As of 2017, San Francisco is ranked high on world liveability rankings.

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