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What are organisations in Bristol doing to help make the city more sustainable?

Press release issued: 2 April 2019

Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, in partnership with Bristol City Council and the Bristol City Office, are undertaking a consultation to better understand how public, private and non-profit organisations across our city are contributing to building a more sustainable global future.

This review, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is led by Dr Sean Fox, Senior Lecturer in Global Development from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute and School of Geographical Sciences.

Dr Fox said: “Bristol has a ‘green’ reputation and was awarded the status of European Green Capital in 2015 - yet economic inequalities, air pollution, homelessness, hunger and reliance on unsustainable sources of energy persist. We must address the complexity and interconnectedness of such social, economic and environmental challenges if Bristol is to achieve a better future.”

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for thinking and acting holistically to achieve sustainability. They are often referred to the ‘closest thing the world has to a strategy’ for building a more environmentally sustainable, inclusive and prosperous world.

The 17 goals cover everything from transitioning towards clean energy to reducing economic inequality and combating gender discrimination. Goal 11 focuses specifically on Sustainable Cities and Communities, recognising that cities are critical arenas for achieving all these global goals given the increasing concentration of people and economic activity in urban areas worldwide.

The Cabot Institute is now mapping local activities onto the SDGs to produce a progress report for Bristol that will be published in July 2019 and submitted as evidence to the United Nations. The report will highlight areas of progress, but also help us to identify improvement areas to assist Bristol achieve the vision set out in the One City Plan; to be a Fair, Healthy and Sustainable City for all.

Dr Fox added: “This is an exciting initiative that signals Bristol’s continued leadership in addressing the challenges of sustainability as we are the first city in the UK to undertake a review of this kind.

“Through this consultation we hope to learn more about how diverse local sustainability initiatives are helping to address the global challenges outlined in the SDGs”

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, is also a strong advocate of the SDGs and recently referred to them as a “common language” which spans across global city-networks, he said “We are a city that wants to change the world - we need to be delivering against the SDGs as part of our global responsibility in an interdependent world.”

The research team are inviting organisations across the city to tell them about their actions and contributions via this online survey. The consultation ends on Friday 26 April.

For further questions about the consultation or the SDGs, please email

More information about Bristol and the Sustainable Development Goals is available here. This initiative is funded by the University of Bristol’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.


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