Last updated: 14 Sep 2023

In recent years, rare and extreme weather and climate events such as heavy rain and snow, droughts, heatwaves, storms and cyclones, have changed and become more frequent as a result of human-induced climate change. This page collects the latest science and evidence of such changes on weather and extreme events and lists relevant information, research, data and/or press releases issued by our partners in Geneva and other institutions around the world.

Weather and Climate Extreme Events in a Changing Climate

Chapter 11 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report of Working Group 1: The Physical Science Basis (2021) defines an extreme weather event as ‘an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year’, and an extreme climate event as “a pattern of extreme weather that persists for some time, such as a season’. Other definitions consider unprecedented events as extremes and/or focus on the determination of relative or absolute thresholds above which conditions are considered extremes.

In recent years, rare weather and climate events have become more frequent due to human-induced climate change. The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 finalized by the IPCC in March 2023 finds that observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, can be attributed to human influence with greater confidence. This is since the previous Assessment Report (AR5) of 2014, with a high confidence interval that human activity, particularly Green House Gas Emissions (GHGs), is the main driver of increases in hot extremes and decreases in cold extremes. 

Source: IPCC AR6 Technical Summary | Table TS.2 | Summary table on observed changes in extremes, their attribution since 1950 (except where stated otherwise), and projected changes at +1.5°C, +2°C and +4°C of global warming, on global and continental scales.

GHGs contribute to planet-warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere, which in turn can alter atmospheric circulation and heat distribution across the surface of the Earth. These changes can bring extreme weather events and, over time, alter regional climates (University of California Museum of Paleontology). Rising temperatures simultaneously cause more atmospheric water retention, causing heavier and stronger precipitation, as well as increased water evaporation and decreased soil moisture, resulting in droughts.

Credit: Understanding Global Change © 2018 University of California Museum of Paleontology

Extreme Temperatures

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) estimates with virtual certainty that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe due to human-induced climate change.

According to WMO, the years from 2014 to 2022 are on track to be the eighth warmest on record and the chance of the five-year mean temperature for 2023-2027 being higher than the last five years is 98%. This has occurred in spite of the La Niña event, the cold counterpart of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which from 2020 to 2023 has provided a cooling impact on the earth. In July 2023, the World Meteorological Organization declared the onset of El Niño conditions, ENSO’s hot counterpart, setting the stage for a likely surge in global temperatures and disruptive weather and climate patterns.

With record-breaking temperatures and the intensity and impact of extremes very likely to increase, strengthening national and international early warnings and anticipatory action to reduce the impacts on human health, livelihood, and the environment is strongly needed.


The World Meteorological Organization (2023) defines a heatwave “as a period of marked and unusually hot weather persisting for at least two consecutive days”, measured against local climatological conditions and/or thresholds measuring the abnormality of high temperatures.

In the past years, heatwaves have become a more common phenomenon. Research in attribution science, examining the link between rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and extreme weather events, indicates that record-breaking temperatures during heatwaves would not be detected without human-induced climate change.

The IPCC Working Group I reportClimate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, found that hitting 1.5°C of global warming will cause increasing heatwaves, longer warm seasons, and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health. Heatwaves are also being detected in climatically cold regions, hitting records of 38℃ in the Arctic region in 2020.

Marine heatwaves, a consequence of the increased warming of seas and the ocean, have also been rising in the past years,  contributing to the likelihood and strength of extreme weather events such as tropical storms and hurricanes, and disrupting the water cycle; making floods, droughts and wildfires on land more likely.

The impacts of MHWs | Source: IUCN

Record Breaking Temperatures in 2022 and 2023

The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 [1.02–1.28] °C above the 1850–1900 average. The years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest in the 173-year instrumental record. The year 2022 was the fifth or sixth warmest year on record, despite ongoing La Niña conditions. The year 2022 marked the third consecutive year of La Niña conditions, a duration which has only occurred three times in the past 50 years.

State of the Global Climate 2022, World Meteorological Organization

July 2023 is set to be the hottest month ever recorded. The consequences are tragic: Children swept away by monsoon rains. Families running from the flames. Workers collapsing in scorching heat. No more hesitancy or excuses. ClimateAction – now.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

In 2022, various heat records in many parts of the world were recorded. The still ongoing summer of 2023 is seeing national meteorological and hydrological services reporting a number of daily and station temperature records across the world, which will be verified and communicated after accurate assessment by the WTO.

July 2022 registered record temperatures also in Geneva. According to thermal images taken on 19 July 2022 by actif-trafiC in various streets of Geneva, temperatures in Geneva reached 38.1 °C — the 3rd highest value ever observed in Geneva. Temperatures reached over 80°C on the surface of cars and over 60°C in the middle of the roadways.

Thermal images of various streets of Geneva taken by actif-trafiC on 19 July 2022, when temperatures in Geneva reached 38,1 °C. Actif-trafiC measured that same day the temperatures in various points of Geneva to highlight the importance of nature in cities to help limiting the effects of heatwaves.

© actif-trafiC

Other recorded temperatures include:

  • In the month of June 2023, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) operated by ECMWF recorded the highest global-mean surface of air temperatures, following the warmest Mays on record, but July 2023 broke the record becoming the hottest month ever recorded.
  • In July 2023 stations across Europe registered potential new records of  45.4 °C in Figueres (Catalonia) and 48.2°C in the Italian island of Sardinia. In Algeria and Tunisia, respectively 48.7 °C and 49.0 °C were met.
  • The China Meteorological Administration reported a temperature of 52.2°C in Xinjiang province. Unprecedently high temperatures have also been recorded on the global sea surface temperatures, with Antarctic sea ice extent reaching a record-low monthly value for the third time in 2023.
  • Heatwaves have also been recorded in various parts of South America during the winter month of August 2023.  The consequences of high heat energy absorbed by the ocean can result in extreme events intensification, such as stronger cyclones or biodiversity loss, such as coral reef bleaching (WMO, 2023).
  • The period from June to August 2023 witnessed the hottest three months on record. The month of August was the hottest August on record – by a large margin – and the second hottest ever month after July 2023, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service ERA 5 dataset. August as a whole is estimated to have been around 1.5°C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850-1900, according to the C3S monthly climate bulletin.


Droughts and Fires

Droughts are varied in type, onset, extent and duration, resulting in plural definitions. Generally, these depend on precipitation and/or moisture or hydrological deficits and atmospheric evaporative demand (IPCC, 2021). The IPCC finds medium confidence that agricultural and ecological droughts have increased in several regions on all continents, with variable certainty of human-induced climate change impact on these changes (Chapter 11 of the IPCC AR6 of Working Group 1 (2021).

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s 2022 report Droughts in Numbers finds that the African continent has been the most impacted by droughts in the past century, with over 300 episodes and bearing an important death and economic toll around the world. Projections indicate that by 2050, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population, and an estimated 4.8-5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today. Up to 216 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050, largely due to drought in combination with other factors including water scarcity, declining crop productivity, sea-level rise, and overpopulation.

Droughts and heatwaves, as effects of hot and dry weather and low soil moisture, are also conducive to wildfires. A wildfire occurs when landscape fires extend out of control (UNEP, 2022). Climate change can influence fires in both direct and indirect ways: droughts, higher temperatures and changes in wind patterns might be considered direct effects; while changes in the nature and availability of biomass/fuel are indirect contributors (UNEP, 2022). According to the IPCC, at higher levels of global warming, fire weather conditions will be more frequent in some regions. Wildfires have devastating impacts on human health, biodiversity, and wildfire, as well as contributing to global warming by favoring carbon release from ecosystems such as peatlands and rainforests.

Heavy Precipitation and Floods

The planet’s warming corresponds to an increased atmospheric water-holding capacity, which causes more frequent, violent and abundant precipitation.

  • Rain patterns in the last years across the world have witnessed events accounting for a months’ rain in a day or just a few hours. The observed growth in this phenomenon since 1950 is likely linked to human influence and is directly connected with increased warming. The projected increases in heavy precipitation extremes will lead to more frequent and intense pluvial floods (IPCC, AR6 Technical Summary).
  • Heavier and more abrupt precipitation, in contrast with seasonal and moderated rains, can cause floods by raising watercourses levels beyond their natural limits. According to WMO, floods are the deadliest natural hazards, which together with storms have caused over one million deaths in the period 1970 to 2012. Besides changes in precipitation, floods’ destructiveness is exacerbated by soil aridity, another effect of global warming.
  • In recent years, hail precipitation also seems to indicate an increase in severity with record-breaking hailstones reaching the size of 20 centimeters. Nevertheless, data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems of hail phenomena require further studies for establishing a clear connection with climate change.
  • Climate change’s impact on snowfall leads to two contrasting effects: a global diminish in the mean snowfall and the favorable conditions for extreme snow events to materialize (Quante, L., Willner, S.N., Middelanis, R. et al., 2021). Snow coverage and cold days are globally diminishing, but although counterintuitive, the planet’s warming and consequent polar ice melting can contribute to more intense snowstorms in some regions. Warming in the Arctic corresponds to the weakening of the polar vortex, allowing cold air to navigate south. When cold Arctic air interacts with water-charged and warmer air the conditions for heavy snow precipitation can materialize.

Extreme Storms and Cyclones

Extreme storms such as tropical cyclones (TCs), extratropical cyclones and severe convective storms are rare, rapid and extremely variable events, making attribution to climate change rather complex (IPCC). Studies on historical changes to be attributed to anthropogenic climate change encounter data quantity and quality issues, nevertheless, climate models estimate that under a 2°C scenario, higher storms inundations rates will be recorded, while there is medium-to-high confidence that TC precipitation rates, will increase globally in frequency and intensity.

Impacts of Weather and Climate Extreme Events

Extreme weather events pose risks to human health, biodiversity and ecosystems, and impose significant stress on infrastructure and economic activities. Global warming is also found to increase the frequency of compound events — defined as the combination of two or more (not necessarily extreme) weather or climate events that occur (i) at the same time, (ii) in close succession, or (iii) concurrently in different regions – consequently magnifying the impact on all sectors.  Estimates find that the cost of extreme events has increased nearly eight times globally since the 1970s due to multiple factors such as urban density settling in proximity to coasts – which contributes to the destruction of natural coastal defenses.

Human Health

According to the WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970 – 2019), there were more than 11,000 reported disasters attributed to weather, climate or water hazards globally, with just over 2 million deaths and US$ 3.64 trillion in losses. Weather, climate, and water hazards accounted for 50% of all disasters, 45% of all reported deaths and 74% of all reported economic losses

Heat-related health effects include heat rash to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and death. Exposure to such a climate can create cumulative stress on the body and risks exacerbating the impact of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and kidney disease. While individual thermoregulation plays a key role in people’s responses to high temperatures, factors such as age (being elderly or very young), having pre-existing disease, living alone, being socially isolated, homelessness, and not having access to heat–health information aggravates the risks of suffering from adverse impacts.

A recent research published in Nature Medicine on heat-related mortality during the summer 2022 heatwave across Europe found that the warming observed since 2015 was associated with 18,547 additional summer heat-related deaths for every +1 °C increase in temperature. A similar study led by the University of Bern has shown that about 60 percent of the more than 600 heat-related deaths in the summer of 2022 in Switzerland can be attributed to human-induced global warming. In the absence of adaptation to future summer warming, a heat-related mortality burden of 68,116 deaths on average every summer by 2030, 94,363 deaths by 2040, and 120,610 deaths by 2050 are expected.

While storms, cyclones, fires, and floods’ most dire impact is often death, these events can also bear short and long-term health challenges. The profound changes these cause on the environment can increase and favor the spread of hazardous chemicals and waterborne and vector-borne pathogens and increase the levels of air pollution through the propagation of toxic fumes from fires causing a series of respiratory and infectious issues.

Human Rights

Weather and climate extreme events can impair people’s enjoyment of various human rights as food and water security, housing, forced displacement and more. Such events can have magnified impacts when hitting particularly vulnerable and unprepared and highly ecosystem-dependent contexts, aggravating the already precarious situations of people that live in poverty and face marginalization, including people with disabilities, older peopleIndigenous peoplespregnant peoplewomen, and children. Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability (IPCC, AR6 Synthesis Report).

Extreme weather events, such as extreme heat, can lead to the violation of the safe and healthy working environment, recognized by the ILO’s among its fundamental principles and rights at work. While workers perform their jobs under extreme conditions, they are subjected to short and long-term health risks, which according to ILO’s Convention No. 184:

“[Agricultural] workers are entitled “(a) to be informed and consulted on safety and health matters … (b) to participate in the application and review of safety and health measures … and (c) to remove themselves from danger resulting from their work activity when … there is an imminent and serious risk to their safety and health” (Art. 8). They should not be placed at any disadvantage as a result of these actions.”

Working under the constraints of heat is also an inequality aggravator, with migrant workers often more subjected and less protected due to difficulty in accessing healthcare, inappropriate legal protection and difficult economic conditions.

Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Extreme weather and climate events can have an immense toll on biodiversity and ecosystems, sometimes leading to irreversible consequences. Both slow-onset and sudden-onset events can trigger change in biodiversity and ecosystem, which can unfold immediately after an event or develop after continuous stress, also given by the combination of multiple events.

  • Marine heatwaves and extreme temperatures are already contributing to coral bleaching and extinction, and increase the risk of irreversible loss of marine and coastal ecosystems. Prior to extinction, important alterations of ecosystems can include the migration of species. According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than half of the world’s marine species may stand on the brink of extinction by 2100. At a 1.1°C  increase in temperature today, an estimated 60 percent of the world’s marine ecosystems have already been degraded or are being used unsustainably. A warming of 1.5°C threatens to destroy 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs, and a 2°C increase means a nearly 100 percent loss – a point of no return.
  • Extreme land temperatures, which can cause wildfires and droughts, are positively correlated to declining biodiversity and higher extinction rates.  These destroy habitats, impair species’ abilities, cross their adaptation capacities and can cause their death. According to FAO, the percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years, with about 12 million hectares of land lost each year due to drought and desertification. With ecosystems lose their carbon uptake capacities, these progressively become carbon sources  (Stocker, B. D. et al., 2019, and Chen, N. et al., 2020)

Climate Governance & International Instruments

The Early Warnings for All initiative

The Early Warnings for All initiative is a groundbreaking effort to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, or climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027. The Early Warnings for All initiative is co-led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partners.

The Early Warnings for All initiative is built around four key pillars: disaster risk knowledge and management; detection, observation, monitoring, analysis, and forecasting; warning dissemination and communication; and preparedness and response capabilities. With human-induced climate change leading to more extreme weather conditions, the  early warning systems are live-saving tools that have proven to be an effective way to adapt to climate change by providing a cost-effective and reliable way of protecting lives and livelihoods from natural hazards such as floods, heatwaves, storms, and tsunamis.

SDG13 on Climate Action

Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action adopted by United Nations Member States at the 2015 UN Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promotes taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Target 13.1 (Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries) particularly looks at the number number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population (Indicator 13.1.1); the number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (Indicator 13.1.2); and the proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies (Indicator 13.1.3).

World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather & Climate Extremes Archive

In 2006, the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) WMO Open Area Programme Group (OPAG) 2 group agreed to the creation of a world archive for verifying, certifying and storing world weather extremes. The archive established a set of procedures to verify existing and future record extremes and made these available to the general public. It includes the world’s highest and lowest temperatures, rainfall, heaviest hailstone, longest dry period, maximum gust of wind, longest lightning flash and weather-related mortalities.

Weather extremes are evaluated by a committee consisting of the WMO CCl Rapporteur for Climate Extremes, the chair of the OPAG 2 group, the chair of the overarching CC1 group, a regional authority, and as necessary an authority associated with the specific type of record (temperature, pressure, hail, tornado, tropical cyclone, etc.). The Rapporteur for Climate Extremes, currently Dr. Randy Cerveny, has final authority and responsibility for certifying the record.

Global Heat Health Information Network

The Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN) is an independent, voluntary, and member-driven forum of scientists, practitioners, and policy makers focused on improving capacity to protect populations from the avoidable health risks of extreme heat in our changing climate. It was created to help rapidly scale up efforts to manage the complex human health risks introduced by extreme and increasing ambient heat, and to harmonize and improve information and opportunity sharing across the burgeoning local communities of health professionals, decision makers and scientists motivated to address this issue. WMO and WHO are among the founding members. Together with WMO-WHO Joint Office for Climate and Health, Global Disaster Preparedness Center and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and the University of Sydney Heat and Health Research Incubator, GHHIN and Google,   thanks to a new search feature on the browser will allow the spreading of important health and safety tips.

The Role of Geneva

Organizations are listed in alphabetical order.

International Actors

Geneva Climate Change Consultation Group (GeCCo)

GeCCco gathers civil society organizations working in Geneva to bring forward the human rights issues raised by climate change and to introduce these climate change issues in the work of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Bodies.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC works to adapt its response to support populations coping with the dual shocks of climate risks and conflicts. In 2020, the ICRC also released the report “When rain turns to dust” illustrating how countries mired in conflict are disproportionately impacted by climate variability and extremes, due to the limited adaptive capacity of people, systems, and institutions already coping with the consequences of conflicts.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network. The IFRC and its 191 National Societies respond to, and work to prevent or lessen the impacts of, all types of crises and disasters. Their work aims at supporting all people, with a focus on the most vulnerable, to save lives, reduce suffering and uphold human dignity. The IFRC invests greatly in prevention and preparedness through disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation and effectively using technology and innovation to anticipate risks and disasters, supporting proactive early action and provide predictive financing. In addition, IFRC provides capacity-building for local responses and adopts a people-centred approach to recovery.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) supports the response to weather and climate extreme events by applying a rights-based development approach in the development of employment-centered recovery from crises while promoting decent work and social justice as key drivers of resilience and social cohesion.  In addition, ILO’s mission is to protect workers from unsafe and unhealthy working environments and conditions, which might be caused or related to extreme weather and climate events.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Through its assessment reports and special reports, the IPCC divulgates objective scientific information on the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place.  The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” dedicated its eleventh chapter to Weather and Climate Extreme Events in a Changing Climate, establishing that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions have led to an increased frequency and/or intensity of some weather and climate extremes since pre-industrial time, in particular for temperature extremes

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

ITU works on addressing climate change through information and communication technologies (ICTs). Work includes supporting the growth of satellite surveillance and monitoring services from space for, for example, more accurate weather forecasting and prediction of extreme weather events linked to climate change, and particularly for predicting the strength, path and location of landfall of tropical storms.

As part of the Early Warning for All Intiative together with IFRC, UNDRR and WMO, ITU is leading the “Warning Dissemination and Communication​” pillar of the EW4A initiative to look at last-mile connectivity and to ensure that warnings reach the people at risk in time to take action.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The IUCN assesses the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on species and ecosystems. Through its work on ecosystem-based mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction, it also highlights the important role of nature-based solutions to climate change. It also works to ensure that climate policy and action are gender-responsive, socially inclusive and take into account to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR)

PEDRR is the clearinghouse for knowledge, training, advocacy and practice on Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR). Eco-DRR is the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to reduce disaster risk, with the aim to achieve sustainable and resilient development. Well-managed ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests and coastal systems, act as natural infrastructure, reducing physical exposure to many hazards and increasing socio-economic resilience of people and communities by sustaining local livelihoods and providing essential natural resources such as food, water and building materials.

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Human Rights Council resolution 41/21 afirms that the effects and impacts of weather and climate extreme events  directly and indirectly threaten the full and effective enjoyment of a range of human rights by people throughout the world, including the rights to life, safe drinking water and sanitation, food, health, housing, self-determination, culture, work and development.

Over the past years, the Human Rights Council took on resolutions and discussions on specific aspects of climate change, while Special Rapporteurs contributed with reports on specific thematic angles within their mandates. The Human Rights Council has contributed to raising awareness of the links between human rights and climate change by successive and targeted clarifications of the ways climate change affects human rights, including through the adoption of a series of resolutions related to climate change and human rights. The OHCHR also published a factsheet on the “Frequently asked questions on human rights and climate change

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) is the UN agency engaged in reducing the risks posed by disasters by supporting governments, and decision-makers to adopt better policies and invest in DRR, as well as collect, collate, and share the latest high-quality technical information and data about reducing risk and building resilience more effectively. UNDRR monitors the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, supporting countries in its implementation, monitoring and sharing what works in reducing existing risk and preventing the creation of new risk. UNDRR oversees various initiatives to monitor, inform on and reduce the risks of extreme events as the Comprehensive Disaster and Climate Risk Management and the Early Warnings for All Initiative together with IFRC, ITU and WMO among others.

World Bank Group Geneva Office

The World Bank Group is the biggest multilateral funder of climate investments in developing countries and a global leader in disaster risk management, supporting countries to assess exposure to hazards and address disaster risks.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization, as the global health authority, supports countries in building resilient and proactive health systems that can anticipate the needs and challenges during emergencies so that they are more likely to reduce risks and respond effectively when needed, monitors health hazards and impacts of events and provides guidelines. WHO conducts specific work on health effects of climate change, droughts, floods, heatwaves, tropical cyclones, and various other weather-related disasters. In 2023, WHO also elected for the first time a WHO Director-General Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health, underscoring WHO’s commitment to prioritizing climate change and its impact on global health. The current mandate holder is Dr. Vanessa Kerry.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

WMO is the recognized authority for verifying extreme weather records. It maintains an official Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes. This includes records of temperatures (globally and per hemisphere), rainfall, aridity, lightning and weather-related mortality. Each year, WMO releases the State of the Global Climate report, which focuses on key climate indicators – greenhouse gases, temperatures, sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification, sea ice, and glaciers, and highlights the impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

Local Institutions

Canton of Geneva

The Canton of Geneva adopted a  revised Cantonal Climate Plan (Plan climat cantonal 2030 – 2ème génération) in 2022, after the State Council declared the climate emergency in 2019. Aimed at diminishing by 60%  greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the Climate Plan aims to protect the population and the environment from the increase of climate extreme events and their consequences.  The Canton also offers various suggestion and services to protect the population from extreme heat.

City of Geneva

The City of Geneva is active in protecting its population from extreme climate events, especially cold waves and heatwaves. Since 2014, the heatwave plans (Plans Canicule) offers various measures to protect the most vulnerable to extreme temperatures in summer, namely refreshing areas, shaded refuges from heat islands, free swimming pools, and more. In the winter of 2022, the City of Geneva increased its welcoming capacity in shelters to protect homeless people from the snow and freezing temperatures.