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The Bristol Method: How to use Partnerships to drive change


bristol methodAbout the Bristol Method

As the winner of the European Green Capital award in 2015, there is an opportunity for Bristol to share it’s experience with people all over the country, across Europe and around the world. Bristol 2015 have launched a project called the ‘Bristol Method’: a knowledge-transfer programme aimed at helping people in other cities understand and apply the lessons that Bristol has learned in becoming a more sustainable city, not just in 2015 but over the last decade.

The Bristol Method is made up of a series of modules, or chapters. Each one is presented as an easy-to-digest ‘how to’ guide on a particular topic, which use Bristol’s experiences as a case study. The modules contain generic advice and recommendations that each reader can tailor to their own circumstances. You can find a number of modules published on the Bristol 2015 website.

Adding your voice

Bristol 2015 are sharing up to four new modules on the website each month in the first half of 2015. These modules are a work in progress and they will be editing and adding to them as the year goes on.

They are seeking input from practitioners and academics across the city – if you have something to add to an existing module, or would like to help write one of the remaining modules, please email Katherine Symonds-Moore at

The Bristol Green Capital Partnership Module – ‘How to use Partnerships to drive change’

Read a short excerpt from the introduction to the BGCP Module below:

Bristol is famous for its large concentration of residents who are engaged with and passionate about being “green”; people living so-called alternative lifestyles are not so alternative here. The city is home to a number of national green organisations (such as the Soil Association and Sustrans) as well as many smaller, grassroots or community organisations that are committed to advancing sustainable living.

Founding 'Pledgers' in 2007

Founding ‘Pledgers’ in 2007

All this human energy and enthusiasm is the reason that Bristol is the European Green Capital in 2015: people came together and worked hard to change the city, and are still doing so. They worked in partnership, collaborating to achieve shared goals by building on each other’s strengths, and sharing skills and knowledge. There is strength in numbers and when people collaborate, the effectiveness of the group is often greater than each person’s effectiveness when acting alone. Or, as Aristotle famously put it: the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.

This module looks at the unique power that cross-sector partnerships have, and how they bring like-minded people together to inspire and enable cooperation and the sharing of knowledge. We define partnerships here as a group of organisations or individuals that formally collaborate under a shared banner for mutually beneficial outcomes.

The intended audience is people in other cities who are considering formalising existing partnership networks or who wish to create something from scratch. This module therefore covers the process for establishing a partnership as well as a summary of some of the challenges and barriers that they can face.


Quarterly Gathering of Partnership members, February 2015

The largest and most unique partnership in this area is the Bristol Green Capital Partnership (BGCP), and it is given the space it deserves in the pages that follow. The module covers how and why it was established and its various stages of development. Most usefully, the people involved have shared what they believe made it successful, helping readers to replicate or adapt the model for use in their own region.

In addition to the BGCP, Bristol benefits from numerous other partnerships which have moved the green agenda forward. This module makes no attempt to share an exhaustive list but, in the spirit of sharing information which others will find useful, we include here brief summaries about four issue-focused partnerships: the Bristol Energy Network; Bristol Food Network; Solar City; and Transition Bristol.

Download and read the full Bristol Green Capital Partnership module here.

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Bristol Green Capital Partnership community interest company is supported by the following organisations:

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