The history of Bristol Climate & Nature Partnership

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Bold leadership and collective action since 2007

Originally formed as ‘Bristol Green Capital Partnership’, the network formed in 2007 thanks to the inspiring efforts of pioneers and leaders who recognised that through collaborative working, they could affect long-term change and make the city a more sustainable place to live.

Initiated by Baroness Janke, the leader of Bristol City Council at the time, 12 member organisations pledged their dedication to making Bristol a ‘low-carbon city with a high quality of life’ – and this quickly grew to 90 members. The Partnership, supported by Bristol City Council but led by an independent chair and steering group, provided an invaluable space to connect varied city-wide activities under one umbrella and convene conversations and collaboration.

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The early years

In its first few years, the Partnership supported action on climate and nature across the city by distributing grants through a Community Challenge Fund, including to projects and organisations such as Bristol PoundSims Hill Shared HarvestSomali Resource CentreBristol Energy Network and many others.

It also supported the development of key reports Peak Oil report (2009) and Who Feeds Bristol? A Resilient Food Plan for Bristol (2011). These raised awareness of key issues for the city, as well providing critical research and possible solutions.

You can read more about the formation of the Partnership in the ‘Bristol Method’, a knowledge-exchange programme created in 2015.

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A Green Capital

In 2008 the European Commission launched the European Green Capital Award, giving Bristol a way to assess its progress alongside the greenest cities in Europe, and to engage more widely in the city. The Partnership was instrumental in helping Bristol succeed in becoming the first UK city to secure the title of Green Capital in 2015, pulling together the work, impact and expertise of the city’s hundreds of grassroots projects, businesses, community organisations and universities.

Bristol’s year as European Green Capital was a city-wide initiative with many organisations involved, and to facilitate this a new company was established – Bristol 2015 Ltd. Bristol 2015 Ltd worked closely with Bristol City Council, the Partnership and UK, EU and international partners including educational and arts and cultural institutions, business networks, visitor and tourism bodies and many more.

The 2015 year marked an important step in the evolution of the Partnership. In 2014 Bristol Green Capital Partnership Community Interest Company (CIC) was formally established with initial funding and support from Bristol 2015 Ltd, to enable the Partnership to grow and further progress towards its aims.

During 2015 the Partnership also developed new projects and collaborations including Healthy City Week, which aimed to share learning and explore the intersections between Bristol’s health and environmental communities, and the Better Bristol crowdfunding platform, enabling new projects to get off the ground.

Photo of someone powering a smoothie maker with an electric bike

© Artur Tixiliski

In 2016 the Partnership established a new business model with the support of its founding Supporting Members. It set out its mission to promote environmental sustainability throughout Bristol and the West of England, providing a leadership voice and enabling collaboration and collective action across sectors towards the shared vision. In 2017 it celebrated its 10th anniversary with now over 800 members.

In 2018, the elected members of Bristol City Council became the first local authority in the UK to declare a ‘climate emergency’ followed by the declaration of an ecological emergency in 2020. This level of ambition and the urgent need for action was reflected in the Partnership’s growing membership, reaching 1,000 members. Projects and activities were developed to support and encourage organisations to recognise and respond to both these emergencies, some of which continue to this day.

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© Shamphat photography

Innovative new projects

The Partnership’s collaboration with Ujima Radio saw the Black & Green Ambassadors programme develop from its initial pilot into a larger-scale programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. The aim of the project was to work towards an environmental movement that is inclusive and representative of all communities, and to connect, empower and celebrate diverse leadership and community action on environmental issues in Bristol and beyond.

In 2021 we launched the Climate Action Programme, as a direct response to Bristol’s Climate Strategy, which highlighted the importance of businesses reducing their emissions as part of the city’s journey to carbon neutrality.

Photo of the three Black & Green Ambassadors at a radio station

The Community Climate Action was launched in 2020, after successfully being granted funding from the National Lottery’s Community Climate Action Fund. The project supports and empowers communities across the city to determine their own responses to the climate crises, helping to ensure action improves the lives of local people.

Whilst advocating for the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework in Bristol, the Partnership worked with city partners to establish the new and collaborative ‘One City Bristol’ model for city governance. It played a central role in setting up the One City Environment Board and the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change in 2019 to deliver on the One City Goals and support the city to meet its climate and ecological targets.

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© Eastside Community Trust

A new name, a new chapter

In 2024 the Partnership rebranded as Bristol Climate & Nature Partnership, marking an exciting new chapter of the organisation’s story. The new brand was developed to match the growth in size, ambition and scope of the Partnership, as it continues to work towards its vision for a net zero, nature-rich and socially just city.

Sign up today and be part of this journey towards a fairer, healthier Bristol.

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