06.02.24 News and information

Marking a moment in the Partnership’s journey

James Longhurst is Vice Chair of our board of directors and, until his recent retirement, Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE Bristol. In this blog he shares his reflections on the Partnership’s journey so far, adapted from his opening talk at our rebrand launch event.

It was my pleasure to give the opening address at the Partnership’s recent Green Mingle, an important event in its evolution. It was the last Green Mingle under the Bristol Green Capital Partnership name and brand but fear not, mingles will continue under the new name and brand – the Bristol Climate & Nature Partnership.

The Partnership is a unique network of organisations that have pledged to work towards a zero carbon, socially just Bristol where all our communities and nature thrive. With more than 1,100 organisations as members, the Partnership is probably the largest of its type in Europe and possibly in the world.

The Partnership is 17 years old, and some may even have been at those early meetings held in what was then the Council House. From those early beginnings, the Partnership has been a critical player in stimulating climate and nature action in the city and beyond.

Through Green Mingles, specially convened gatherings on key themes, major initiatives like the Black and Green Ambassadors or the Community Climate Action Project, the Partnership has helped set and / or drive forward the sustainability agenda in the city. The Partnership provides the space for discussion and debate amongst the many organisations and individuals advocating for sustainability action. However, much more than that, it coheres and catalyses the energy and enthusiasm of the members for action.

From its key role in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital – arguably without the Partnership there would have been no successful outcome – through to the Partnership’s important roles today in supporting the One City Environment Board and the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change, the Partnership has been a constant presence and a key enabler of action.

Arguably, without the Partnership’s role, Bristol’s reputation as the leading city for sustainability would be much more difficult to evidence.

Green Mingles started almost immediately after the Partnership was formed – so perhaps there have been some 150 or more such meetings. In providing the space and place for discussion, the Partnership has helped meet the need for connection and collaboration for those of us working towards climate and nature goals.

The Partnership was established as a CIC in 2016 and I must thank the   founding partners and supporters for their steadfast commitment to the Partnership and to the new iteration launched today.

Amongst those founding partners is the University of the West of England UWE), my former employer, and I am delighted that UWE staff and students support the Partnership, which in turn provides many opportunities for staff research and for student projects. My UWE colleague Professor Martin Bigg was chair of the Partnership when Bristol won the European Green Capital designation.

We are now at a point where the impacts of the climate and nature emergency are profound and the need for the Partnership and its convening power is ever more urgent.

Bristol Green Capital Partnership has an influential history but its impact in the future will be even more important.

Thank you for your support today and I hope tomorrow because the Partnership we embody is the hope and means for realising the vision of a zero carbon, socially just Bristol where all our communities and nature thrive.

In conclusion, I must thank the staff team, the chairs and board members since 2007 who together have provided the platform upon which the next stage of the Partnership will be built, under Bristol Climate & Nature Partnership.

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James Longhurst speaking at Green Mingle