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The Black and Green Ambassadors for Bristol Programme
Organisation : Bristol Green Capital Partnership , United Kingdom

Through the training and mentoring of a new generation of leaders, representative of Bristol’s diverse Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, this programme will further empower BAME leadership and strengthen voice and participation of diverse communities on issues of environment, climate and social justice. Ambassadors will gather the evidence needed to advocate for transformative change, co-create tangible solutions and develop new projects that will enable bold and inclusive action towards a sustainable Bristol. They will build links between diverse communities, businesses, institutions and decision making forums - enabling mutual learning and opening spaces for constructive challenge to achieve more inclusive practices and so systemic city-wide change.

Agendas addressed
Greenfield land and natural spaceClimate changeSocial inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
Context

Bristol is a city with deeply ingrained inequalities across environmental, social and economic dimensions [1]. In November 2018, the elected members of Bristol City Council became the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency, building on Bristol’s reputation as a national and global environmental sustainability leader. However, Bristol has been criticised for failing to include diverse voices in the environmental sustainability community and its leadership, particularly those of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

The Bristol One City Climate Strategy [2] and One City Plan [3] both recognise the enormous changes that are required for Bristol to become carbon neutral by 2030 mean that we must engage with all communities in the city, explore and explain why and how change will occur and help build understanding, capacity and capability for change and community resilience in the face of such change.

[1] (https://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/CoDE%20Briefing%20Bristol%20v2.pdf)
[2] https://www.bristolonecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/one-city-climate-strategy.pdf
[3] https://www.bristolonecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/One-City-Plan_2020.pdf

In Action

Bristol Green Capital Partnership (BGCP), with its membership of nearly 1,000 organisations, is well placed in the heart of environmental sustainability activities in Bristol. Our mission is to broaden and deepen participation in action for a more sustainable and fair city. As co-partner on the Black and Green Ambassadors project (with community radio station Ujima Radio) we will provide the opportunity for new Ambassadors - using findings resulting from their work - to influence the city and ensure that currently underrepresented voices are involved in developing the direction of the city.

The primary pathway we anticipate the project to influence outcomes at a city scale is via the innovative 'One City Approach', which Bristol has been implementing since 2019 to respond to complex issues facing the city and systemic change required to address them. This approach aims to involve a wide range of stakeholders in co-producing the city's iterative One City Plan, which is refreshed and enhanced each year but there is a need for increased representation in this process. The One City Plan is shaped and supported by six thematic boards made up of key stakeholders. BGCP works closely as secretariat with the Environment thematic board, which is co-chaired by Bristol's Mayor Marvin Rees. We believe there is an appetite and opportunity to transform and increase representation via the Black and Green Ambassadors programme. However, alongside the opportunity for increased local influence, the Black and Green Ambassadors have also garnered national and international interest, which we aim to develop and explore as the project progresses.

"In the world, people of colour are the most impacted by climate change, in this city people of colour are the most affected by pollution [...] The fight for our environmental future should be something we are all doing together. We all live on the planet together. It is a joint responsibility.” Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley, Black & Green Ambassador

“The Ambassadors pilot project is exactly the kind of collective approach that I have advocated to tackle issues of exclusion and inequality in the city. 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." Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

Results

The initial phase of this programme has made significant inroads, dramatically raising the profile of BAME-led initiatives and facilitating new connections and dialogues between under-represented communities, environmental organisations, academic researchers and decision-makers who are making progress towards adopting more inclusive practices. Findings were captured and shared a report from our pilot programme. [1]

- Two Ambassadors were trained and mentored by senior leaders drawn from our city-wide networks and university partners, and developed and led community-based research and engagement activities. Their involvement in high-profile events and forums have enabled them to take their learnings and constructive challenges to decision-making forums and leaders from industry, civil society, the public sector and politicians at a local and national scale

- Environmental organisations have implemented new approaches to community engagement as a result of collaborations with Ambassadors to address diversity and inclusion in their work

- Ambassadors have indicated that they gained an increased skill-set, better understanding of leadership and city decision-making processes, extensive new networks and continued relationships with organisations and groups (leading to further offers of local and national work and research collaborations with UK Universities and national environmental institutions.)

“The Ambassadorship provided me with the skills and confidence to work with social impact organisations, policy makers and communities - the experience was unmatched for leadership development.” Zakiya McKenzie, pilot Ambassador

[1] http://bristolgreencapital.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Green-and-Black-Ambassadors-Pilot-Report-2018_Final.pdf

Impact

Throughout the 3-year programme, 9 Ambassadors will engage with 450+ individuals directly and reach wider audiences through Uima’s local listenership of 30k+ and event audiences of 1,800+. We will establish a robust framework and ongoing process for monitoring and evaluation, working closely with the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute and University of the West of England, Bristol to understand the transformative impacts of their engagements. Impacts are likely to include:

- Increased opportunities for BAME individuals to influence environmental policy-making (incl. the implementation of the One City Climate Strategy and the One City Plan), measured by the change in number of opportunities to influence environmental policy-making, and increase in response to environmental policy consultations from BAME-individuals, an increase in diversity of governance structures and/or boards within the environmental sector.

- Increased opportunities for BAME individuals to access green economy and to access nature and green spaces in Bristol, measured through the inclusive policies and interventions taken by organisations / local businesses, no. attendances and engagements at workshops connecting members of BAME-community with information and access to environmental careers.

- Significantly increased profile of BAME-led environmental priorities and activity and increased understanding of social and environmental equality and issues of inclusion and diversity - Empowered leadership of nine new Ambassadors development, in addition to professional development / employment opportunities both during and beyond Ambassadorship

- New BAME-led projects and collaboration

We will also explore opportunities with the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England to undertake broader impact assessments through academic collaborations and student placements. For example, analysis of new policies, strategies and approaches to city consultations.

Challenges and lessons learned

This 3-year programme will build on learnings from the pilot in several ways. It will provide a structured approach to community-led engagement, helping Ambassadors take a long-term approach to building deeper and trusted collaboration with communities, organisations and individuals. It will co-create an empowering governance structure with community partners, establish clear terms of engagement for collaborators and provide a formal personal development programme to support a growing cohort of 'graduating' Ambassadors, with time to identify and explore career pathways and receive practical advice to support this. Monitoring and evaluation will be firmly integrated into each activity, enabling Ambassadors to assess outcomes and longer-term impact with partners over the 3-year period.

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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