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Green and Black project helps Bristol's environmental sustainability movement become more diverse

Press release issued: 23 April 2018

A new report shares successes and learning from the pioneering project that aims to achieve a more diverse environmental sustainability community, and in particular address the perceived exclusion of Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

The unique ‘Green & Black Ambassadors’ concept emerged from Ujima Radio’s Green & Black conversations held as part of Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015.

Developed collaboratively by Ujima Radio, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute and Public Engagement team, the pilot phase of the project responded to an identified need to constructively challenge decision-making and make the structures for Bristol’s environmental sustainability movement more inclusive.

The pilot is the first of its’s kind and involved the training and development of new leaders from Black and Minority Ethnic background. The first ‘Green & Black Ambassadors’, Zakiya McKenzie and Jasmine (Jazz) Ketibuah-Foley, helped to shape the project – receiving funding, support and training to support their leadership development and to:

  • Conduct community research and projects to encourage stronger dialogue and engagement across BAME and environmental sustainability communities
  • Create media projects and monthly radio shows, share learnings, showcase best practice, and champion inclusive, diverse projects on local, national and international platforms; and
  • Engage with organisations and institutions in the city to constructively challenge and influence how decisions are made, to ensure a voice for marginalised communities.

The newly published report demonstrates the advancements that this project has made towards long-term cultural and systemic change, and highlights key outcomes of its pilot phase:

  • The growth of the Ambassador’s own leadership skills, confidence and professional development
  • Regular Green & Black radio shows broadcast on Ujima Radio and the BBC to a listenership of over 20,000 people
  • Evidence of environmental organisations, academic researchers and decision-makers embedding diversity in their approach and adopting more inclusive practices as a direct result of their engagement in the project and the workshops run by the Ambassadors
  • A significantly raised profile of BAME-led initiatives and issues of exclusion, including at key high-profile events such as
  • Speaking alongside Caroline Lucas MP and Bristol’s Deputy Mayor Asher Craig at the Festival of the Future City
  • Introducing US Senator Bernie Sanders to a packed Festival of Ideas audience, where they raised questions about the impact of environmental challenges within marginalised communities;
  • Sharing learnings at Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s tenth anniversary celebration
  • Participating in a national Natural Environment Research Council conference
  • The ‘Photovoice’ community-based photography research project that situated the grassroots ideas and practices of people from BAME backgrounds within the city’s environmental agenda.

In his foreword to the report, Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: "The combination of leadership development work, community working and research, media projects, and engaging the city in debate and change is a model to learn from. It shows how, working together, we can enable new leaders from BAME backgrounds to develop their skills and offer opportunities that will ensure Bristol’s environmental community is more diverse and inclusive. I am supportive of the project and its future ambitions and would urge others to get involved.

"This report is an integral part of the project, sharing insights from the Ambassadors’ experiences, their research and the successes and challenges of the Green & Black Ambassadors model. It demonstrates the positive impact of the project and recognises the praise and collective support that the project has received both from the city and nationally. It highlights the need for investment in further sustainability leaders through the scaling up of the Green & Black Ambassadors initiative and offers a model for better participation and inclusion that can be modelled throughout the UK."

Jazz Ketibuah-Foley, said: "The involvement of so many organisations and the support we have received has made clear we have tapped into a huge reservoir of potential – but the transformation to a more diverse and socially-just environmental sustainability movement will require long-term and widespread engagement. We have made massive inroads in highlighting this important issue, and the conversations we started have continued on the radio and with the organisations and individuals who have engaged with us through this pilot. What we need to do now is work together to shape our learnings so far into practical solutions for the city and incorporate them into the future vision of the Green & Black Ambassadors initiative. I am so proud of our city and the response it has given to the Green & Black initiative so far. Let's roll with that momentum and inspire positive change together."

Zakiya Mckenzie said: "The Green & Black Ambassadorship has been a very enriching professional experience. I have learned, first-hand, about environmental sustainability, urban gardening, local effects of global climate change, conservation and so much more. What has been most fulfilling is exploring these topics through a city leadership lens to envision a more effective and accountable Bristol. There is huge potential in the African Caribbean and other ethnic minority communities to becomemore integrated into the wider city leadership system and the Green and Black Initiative has proven that to be true. This is a model that works; inclusion works when community members act as a bridge between corporate structures and the grassroots happenings. I would encourage other organisations in Bristol and beyond to truly nurture and invest in local communities in the way the Green and Black Ambassadors project partners have."

Hayley Shaw, Cabot Institute Manager, said: "Towards the end of 2015, we were excited to work with Ujima Radio on the Green and Black Conversation, which explored issues of BME inclusion in Bristol's environmental initiatives.  One of the key issues was the loss of funding and training to develop the next generation of diverse leaders, an issue that Marvin Rees emphasised at the time and continues to emphasise as Mayor.  This was ultimately the motivation for the Green and Black Ambassadors Programme."

Professor Rich Pancost, Cabot Institute Director, said: "Climate and environmental change, food and water insecurity and natural hazards disproportionately impact the poor and marginalised in our societies; it is essential, therefore, that their voices that guide our discussions about how we tackle those challenges. But aside from the necessity of such initiatives, it has been a great privilege to work with our partners in the University, the city of Bristol and more widely - and especially with Jazz and Zakiya.  We have learned so much and strive to incorporate that learning into all of our activities."

Mohammed Saddiq, chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, said: "The Green & Black Initiative has been deliberately bold and mission-orientated and has supported our core value of being inclusive in everything we do. I am deeply proud and inspired by the outcomes of the project and the way in which they were delivered in a collaborative manner within the diverse community of Bristol. We will continue to  invest in developing future sustainability leaders from BAME communities. This will help us to achieve the inclusive environmental sustainability movement in Bristol that we all need to help address the environmental challenges the city faces."

The Green & Black Ambassadors pilot project was enabled by seed funding from Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC and the University of Bristol Cabot Institute Innovation Fund, with support from Up Our Street who hosted the Ambassadors for two months. The project received additional funding from the UK National Environment Research Council (NERC) and the European Research Council (ERC) as well as receiving significant in-kind support from all project partners, contributors and other supporters.

Further information

About Ujima Radio                                                                       

Ujima Radio CIC (Community Interest Company) is a local Bristol Community radio station and non-profit Social Enterprise providing support and training for over 150 volunteers each year. Over the last seven years Ujima Radio has delivered many projects to engage communities and challenge perceived thinking, from creating green citizen journalists, to their year of activity during European Green Capital 2015. As national diversity champions of the year, Ujima engaged BAME community members and those that consider themselves disadvantaged in civic society. Ujima’s approach is to use media and social action projects to constructively disrupt and challenge organisations into being more inclusive, and to respond to sustainability issues that are likely disproportionately affecting those from Black and Minority Ethnic communities -

About Bristol Green Capital Partnership

Founded in 2007, Bristol Green Capital Partnership is a unique partnership of over 800 member organisations who have committed to working towards Bristol becoming a sustainable city with a high-quality of life for all. Supported by a community interest company, this unique network enables collaboration across public, private, and third sectors in and beyond Bristol, to realise the change needed to address the environmental sustainability challenges we face. In addition to supporting the Green and Black Ambassadors project, in the last year the Partnership celebrated it’s tenth anniversary, helped to make local community projects a reality through the Better Bristol initiative, delivered Healthy City Week 2018 and developed research into the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Bristol -

About University of Bristol Cabot Institute

The Cabot Institute carries out fundamental and responsive research on risks and uncertainties in a changing environment.  We drive new research in the interconnected areas of climate change, natural hazards, water and food security, low carbon energy, and future cities. Our research fuses rigorous statistical and numerical modelling with a deep understanding of social, environmental and engineered systems – past, present and future. We seek to engage wider society by listening to, exploring with, and challenging our stakeholders to develop a shared response to 21st Century challenges -


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