Project: Healthy Ageing in Place: Co-Designing Inclusive Climate Resilient Age-friendly Cities and Communities

Age friendly cities and communities (AFCCs) encourage active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation, and security to enhance quality of life in old age. They can provide the resources, amenities and services to support healthy ageing-in-place, enabling older people to age well at home and in their communities. However, climate change related extreme weather events (e.g., flooding, heatwaves and storms) pose new challenges for the health and wellbeing of older people. There is an urgent need to deliver place-based supports that harness the contribution older people can make to climate action while reducing vulnerability, and building climate resilience through individual, social and community level interventions. 

Healthy Ageing in Place: Co-Designing Inclusive Climate Resilient Age-friendly Cities and Communities aimed to explore how understand we can build inclusive climate resilient AFCCs that support healthy ageing for older people. The project was led by Heriot-Watt University in partnership with the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York and informed by an older people’s advisory group. The research involved multiple methods cutting across five inter-linked phases. Phase 1 involved a policy and practice mapping workshop with stakeholders aimed at establishing policy and practice priorities for inclusive climate resilience and AFCCs. Phase 2 undertook a nationwide survey to gather climate change images from older people about the perceptions of climate and in-person participatory mapping workshops in Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh. Phase 3 carried out co-design workshops across the case study cities with older people, policymakers and practitioners to establish what AFCCs would look like if they were to be climate resilient. Phase 4 entailed developing recommendations and sense checking with older people and stakeholders via an online virtual event. Phase 5 was centred on knowledge exchange and impact involving working with a diverse range of policymakers and practitioners to embed the findings of the research.  

The project produced a series of recommendations for how we can develop climate resilient AFCCs across key thematic areas: health and wellbeing; housing and home; intergenerational communities; mobility and outdoor spaces; social and community infrastructure; and empowering older people. The research identified three key enablers to deliver climate resilient AFCCs including engaging diverse older people’s voices, the need for a cross-sectoral all-agency approach to delivering change and a call to strengthen the evidence base including identifying best practice.      

A website for the research with all publications including summaries of the in-person events, a project video and the final recommendations document are available here: Healthy Ageing in a Changing Climate ( As a next step, the team are working to embed the findings within policy and practice including engaging with age-friendly teams and key stakeholders across the UK.   

Project Lead

Professor Ryan Woolrych

Project partners