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Sharing learnings on Bristol’s experience of localising the Sustainable Development Goals


The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a globally-agreed agenda for sustainable and inclusive prosperity that ‘leaves no-one behind’. 

The Goals can contribute to addressing the complex challenges the city faces. As Bristol collectively works towards a new ‘One City Plan’, the SDGs offer a common language for city partners – working across the three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – and across the private, public and third sectors – to address these challenges. 

As an international, ethnically and culturally diverse city, the SDGs present an opportunity for global leadership, as they offer cities around the world a clear framework for collaborating on the big challenges they face and for sharing learnings between them. 

The ‘Bristol Method’ was the learning sharing element of European Green Capital 2015, as a way of sharing learnings from Bristol’s journey in becoming a more sustainable city, not just in 2015 but over the last decade. This new ‘Bristol Method+’ report shares new learnings since then.

‘Driving the Sustainable Development Goals agenda at city level in Bristol’ shares learnings with those in other cities across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

It looks at the SDGs’ relevance to Bristol, the origins of action in the city, how different actors have engaged and how Bristol is driving the SDG agenda, including the Bristol SDG Alliance and its successes to date. It also offers some key learnings for others.

These include: reach out and learn from other cities; engage across all three dimensions of sustainability; tap into existing expertise and networks; use anchor institutions; seek political support; demonstrate the SDGs’ value; monitor using existing indicators (at first); and engage citizens and communities.

The report also considers some possible futures of the SDGs in the city, drawing on Alliance members’ views.

It has been published to coincide with the annual UN review of progress on the SDGs, known as the High-Level Political Forum, which in 2018 has a focus on cities. It has been produced as part of a University of Bristol project, by Allan MacLeod, Research and Engagement Associate at the University’s Cabot Institute with Bristol Green Capital Partnership drawing on inputs from members of the Bristol SDG Alliance.

  • Download the new ‘Bristol Method+’ report here
  • Learn more about the Bristol Method and download all chapters here
Sustainable Development Goals, News & Information
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