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Bristol shares learnings on sustainable city challenges at #EUGreenWeek

Bristol was well-represented by a delegation of Partnership members at the 2018 #EUGreenWeek conference, the high-profile annual celebration of environmental sustainability in Brussels.

Rich, Ian & Savita at #EUGreenWeek 2018

This year’s theme is ‘Green Cities for a Greener Future’, and Bristol had much to share with fellow cities – a commitment made by our city during our year as European Green Capital in 2015 – and much to learn from them in exchange. Knowledge exchange was one of three themes running through the conference, alongside involving citizens and political leadership.

Rich Pancost from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute spoke at a session about inclusive sustainability and the Green & Black Ambassadors project, while Savita Wilmott from Bristol Natural History Consortium spoke about citizen engagement with nature, including through the City Nature Challenge. Bristol City Council cabinet member Cllr Kye Dudd also took part in a panel discussion on clean air, making the case for urgent action on this public health crisis facing our city, while the ClairCity project demonstrated their Skyline clean air game app.

Ian Townsend, chief executive of the company that supports the Partnership, spoke to a packed room about the Partnership and its role as the legacy organisation following the European Green Capital 2015. The session – called “inspiring” by the conference organisers – also saw Oslo, 2019 award winners, highlight their innovative approach to carbon budgeting, Copenhagen talk about promoting cycling as 2014 winners, and the Green Leaf 2015 cities Torres Vedras and Mollet del Valles presenting on their engagement with citizens and schools.

Bristol made new connections and strengthened existing links with cities across Europe facing shared sustainability challenges, all of the above plus Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegen (2018) and Lisbon (candidate for 2020), and Green Leaf cities Galway (2017), and Ghent and Leuven (2018).

Ian said: “It was great to tell the Partnership’s story and learn what other cities are doing. Essen is setting up a new cross-sector partnership like ours to ensure it didn’t stop there after their year as European Green Capital. We also have much in common with Leuven 2030, a cross-sector NGO like ours dedicated to a low carbon city. As Bristol pushes to become the UK’s first ‘gold’ sustainable food city, we could compare notes with Ghent, who are doing great things in this area. Galway have also taken an innovative approach to plastic waste and education in schools that can be easily replicated.

Summary of #EUGreenWeek by visual facilitators #wethinkvisual

Rich Pancost said: “It is a pleasure representing Bristol at EU Green Week. The University and the Cabot Institute are committed to global, national and of course Bristol sustainability, and this event allows us to share what we have learned as well as to learn from our peers from across Europe. We are keen to share the story of the Green and Black Ambassadors, a partnership including Ujima Radio and Bristol Green Capital Partnership, which illustrates the importance of inclusion, diversity and equality in the environmental movement – and also how rewarding such initiatives can be.”

Cllr Kye Dudd, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet lead on energy, waste and clean air, said: “EU Green Week is a great opportunity for Bristol to share the important work underway to improve our environment. […] There are so many fantastic projects taking place in Bristol on both a large and local scale, from work to attract international investors involved with our City Leap prospectus to the collection of local views via projects like the ClairCity Skyline game app. The opportunity to present our work with city partners at prestigious events like this will help to develop our policies as part of our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050.”

Partnership representatives also connected with organisations like the cross-Europe cities network on environmental and social issues EUROCITIES, including around food and the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals. This is vital for building the kind of cross-national city networks vital for securing European funding to help achieve the Partnership’s mission. Connection was also made with Malmo about its innovative council-led approach to the Sustainable Development Goals.

All the Partnership attendees also took part in a lunchtime event for the Bristol network in Brussels about the city’s sustainability.

Our thanks to DG Environment for making it possible for us to attend the conference, and to Paul Davies in our Bristol-Brussels for making it all run so smoothly.

More information

“Bristol to present environmental solutions at EU conference”, Bristol City Council press release, 23 May 2018

EU Green Week 2018 & conference: coverage #EUGreenWeek and @EU_Env, Green cities panel event highlighted in daily update and visual summary to follow, and all webstreamed sessions (only air quality among sessions Bristol was part of)

Links to key documents

Partnership priorities, themes and events

Partnership’s 2017-18 impact report

G&B ambassadors pilot report

BNHC’s City Nature Challenge

Bristol ‘City Leap for a zero carbon, clean energy city

Bristol & the SDGs

Urban ID project (co-production & systems thinking at city level)

Better Bristol – match-funding using crowdfunding – independent evaluation

Reports: Peak Oil (2009), Who Feeds Bristol (2011) & Good Food Plan (2015)

Good Transport Plan for Bristol (2016)

Bristol Method: the knowledge transfer element of European Green Capital 2015, e.g. and partnerships to drive change and student volunteering (new chapters are planned)

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