The Impact of Regeneration and Climate Adaptations of Urban Green–Blue Assets on All-Cause Mortality: A 17-Year Longitudinal Study

Zoe Tieges, Duncan McGregor, Michail Georgiou, Niamh Smith, Josie Saunders, Richard Millar, Gordon Morison, Sebastien Chastin

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Abstract: Urban waterways are under-utilised assets which can provide benefits ranging from climate-change mitigation and adaptation (e.g. reducing flood risks) to promoting health and well-being in urban settings. Indeed, urban waterways provide green and blue spaces which have increasingly been associated with health benefits. The present observational study used a unique 17-year longitudinal natural experiment of canals regeneration from complete closure and dereliction in North Glasgow in Scotland, UK to explore the impact of green and blue canal assets on all-cause mortality as a widely used indicator of general health and health inequalities. Official data on deaths and socio-economic deprivation for small areas (data zones) for the period 2001-2017 were analysed. Distances between data zone population-weighted centroids to the canal were calculated to create three 500m distance buffers. Spatio-temporal associations between proximity to the canal and mortality were estimated using linear mixed models, unadjusted and adjusted for small-area measures of deprivation. The results showed an overall decrease in mortality over time (ß=-0.032, 95% CI [-0.046, -0.017]) with a closing of the gap in mortality between less and more affluent areas. The annual rate of decrease in mortality rates was largest in the 0-500m buffer zone closest to the canal (-3.12%, 95% CI [-4.50, -1.73]), with smaller decreases found in buffer zones further removed from the canal (500-1000m: -3.01%, 95% CI [-6.52, 0.62]), and 1000-1500m: -1.23%, 95% CI [-5.01, 2.71]). A similar pattern of results was found following adjustment for deprivation. The findings support the notion that regeneration of disused blue and green assets and climate adaptions can have a positive impact on health and health inequalities. Future studies are now needed using larger samples of individual-level data, including environmental, socio-economic and health variables to ascertain which specific elements of regeneration are the most effective in promoting health and health equity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4577
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020


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