“CLIMANIA: The Climate Action Game”
is an engagement, educational and discussion tool aimed at informing the public of the role of the built environment in the climate emergency – specifically focusing on urban planning and retrofit.

The research project

The Climate Action Game project was a co-design and play research project concepted in light of COP26. We worked with thirteen young people aged 14-18 from Balsall Health, Birmingham from November to December 2021 in a co-design process to develop a climate action board game. The project aimed to understand how aware young people are of the impact of the built environment on climate change. We developed an engagement tool in the form of a board game to inform people of the role of the built environment in the climate emergency – “CLIMANIA: The Climate Action Game” focusing on urban planning and retrofit.

Young People

Climate action is a matter for all generations but especially critical for young people and future generations. It was therefore important to let young people co-create the ideas, focus, rules and name of the game. We recruited young people living or studying in Balsall Heath because this ward has a highly diverse demographic. The young researchers were reimbursed for their participation in the project with vouchers.

They were involved in nine workshops focusing on developing understanding of research, built environment specific terms and prototyping of games. In the duration of the project the young people developed skills in teamwork, academic writing, interviewing, data collection and arts-led methods in academic research. They worked alongside with university lecturers and artists as a co-lead on the project, having equal say in the development of the game. The young co-researchers consulted with architects, town planners and community members to build their knowledge and contribute to the development of the game. Their participation in the project was invaluable and contributed to the successful outcome.

The young co-researchers’ superpowers as imagined by themselves.

“I was impressed by how I become friends with most of the students that were participating. The most challenging part was getting the job done by creating a fun and knowledgeable game. The final game is awesome and mind blowing. The earth could be greener if we work together as we’re the earth’s protectors”

Balqis, young co-researcher, Balsall Heath


Principal Investigator on the project was Simeon Shtebunaev, Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer at Birmingham City University, specialising in youth engagement in the built environment, co-design and participation in the planning of future cities; cultural and arts-led research methods.

Co-Investigator on the project was Claudia Carter, Associate Professor and Reader in Environmental Governance at Birmingham City University, specialising in climate change research and holistic, participatory and creative approaches to environmental planning and management including game design.

The researchers were supported by Birmingham City University CEBE Research Team, with Dr Euan Scott, Research Development and Support Officer acting as the officer for this project.

and Supporters

The main parner to the project were The GAP Arts Project based in the Old Printworks in Balsall Heath. Ceri Townsend, Project Manager and Ella Marshall, Creative & Cultural Producer, provided the physical hub of artistic activity and support to run the workshops, as well as, expertise in working with young people in creative ways.

We worked with Scott McAulay from the Anthropocene Architecture School who provided expertise on climate literacy in the built environment and was able to report to back to the young people live from COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

We were supported by the expertise of architect, Marina Strotz, president of the Birmingham Architectural Association and town planner, Stephanie Eastwood, chair of the Royal Town Planning Institute West Midlands. The young co-researchers had the opportunity to engage with professionals and seek their advice on built environment issues.


The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation with Council reference AH/W004526/1. The project formed a call-out for project to engage young people with climate research as part of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 26, in Glasgow, UK 2021.


During the game development our young co-researchers interviewed more than 30 people from all ages in the community, asking them about their climate worries. In the testing of the game over two Community Events we engaged more than 50 people, majority of which were under the age of 18. Outside of the two community events we demonstrated the game at informal and formal university events, museum events, engaged with families and worked with local climate action networks to test the game – overall, more than 40 people engaged in testing of the game outside of the funded events from the project. 

The game development was presented as the TET Dialogues event which engaged more than 50 people nationally working in the field of youth inclusion in built environment. Since the completion of the prototype, we presented the Game at the Festival of Tomorrow ran in collaboration with UKRI where more the 50 people from all ages (4+) engaged with the game and learned about retrofit. We played the game with Civic Square, a Birmingham based arts-organisation engaging diverse group of people from across 

We have received incredible interest from academics, students, educators, professionals, politicians and other practitioners internationally that would like to download and play the game!

“This game could be a game-changer! We’re campaigning for ambitious community-led Retrofit in Balsall Heath, and have found the CLIMANIA game a wonderful help. It is a great way of engaging and informing people about the potential and detail of domestic retrofit, in a scientifically rigorous but accessible way.  The involvement of local students and community groups in development has grounded it real experience. We are delighted to be a small part of this journey, thank you CLIMANIA team, and we wish you every success!”

John Christophers, RIBA MAPM AECB UKGBC 
Chartered architect & client design adviser, Zero Carbon House
Chartered RIBA architectural practice, 103 Tindal St, Birmingham B12 9QU

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