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Collective action with Bristol Water and Green Capital Partnership

Turquoise river delta


The complexity of achieving sustainability goals means that collaboration and collective action are key.

In order to explore how to achieve the ambitious targets set out in Bristol’s One City Plan, Bristol Green Capital Partnership teamed up with Bristol Water and Impact in order to deliver an event that would bring business leaders from the area together in pursuit of these goals.

The event objective was to provide an opportunity for a diverse mix of organisational leaders to collaborate on supporting the city’s citizens, consumers and employees to be more sustainable, both now and in the future.

Through the diversity of insight present in the stakeholder mix, the enthusiasm of each attendee, and Impact’s leadership expertise, the workshop aimed to empower Bristol’s future citizens to make significant changes to the way that they live and work, and to galvanise collective leadership action towards achieving the One City Plan goals.

With Impact’s expert facilitation and event hosting, attendees took part in a series of practical workshops that introduced them to the capacities for collective leadership action and gave them the opportunity to put them into practice. The three core capacities that are essential for this type of leadership are:

  • Notice: What’s going on? What’s missing? Inward and outward awareness increases, as well as the awareness of others. You help the system to see itself.
  • Decide: Now, it’s time to decide what’s needed. Using participatory sense-making and decision making, you unlock the creative intelligence in the system.
  • Act: Moving from decision to action is the most important step, and the point at which things often get stuck. It requires courage and the support of others alongside you.

Attendees heard amazing stories about what some organisations were already doing and explored what else is needed to reach the city’s ambitious goals (notice). Collaboratively, they created a vision for Bristol’s future citizens and employees and explored how, as leaders in organisations, they can support these citizens to live this vision (decide). Rather than trying to achieve things alone, the group collectively created action plans (act).

As a result of this event, 35 people from 24 organisations committed to 35 new collaborative actions, such as:

  • Help to develop one strategic approach to plastic reduction, using the reusable working group piloting across the city.
  • Provide free waste audits for local businesses to help to identify areas where waste can be reduced. 
  • Explore the use of water use data identify sites potentially linked to modern slavery.
  • Support people and organisations in Bristol to transition to more sustainable, clean and efficient sources of energy - making sure that this is inclusive and no one is left behind.
  • Ensure improvements in water infrastructure also help to solve housing challenges.
  • Work on bringing stakeholders together around reusable resources, to test, learn and pilot the best mechanics to reduce single use.

The group will regularly reunite to share progress, hold each other to account on their commitments and maintain the momentum for collective action.

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