B24/7 & Bristol Business News comment: Why businesses must back our year as Green Capital

October 24, 2014

Each month the relaunched B24/7 website will feature a comment article by Bristol Business News editor Robert Buckland looking at a different business issue affecting the city. He kicks off the series by urging Bristol businesses to get behind next year’s European Green Capital.

We’ve had the high-profile sackings, the hand wringing and the inevitable political positioning over the way the company behind the green capital was being run. That’s history. Now let’s get down to business.

It’s clear that Bristol’s 12 months in the spotlight as European Green Capital next year will present a huge opportunity for the city to position itself as an international centre for sustainable business.

It’s like a free ticket to a global party where you get the rub shoulders with the world leaders in everything Bristol wants to be – green, clean and innovative. A once-in-a-generation chance to put Bristol on the world map as a city where good things happen with all the spin-offs that can bring.

So where are the businesses? Who’s stepped up to the plate to show that business can be a force for good when it comes to addressing the big issues of climate change and creating a low-carbon, sustainable city? Which Bristol companies have put themselves forward as green business ambassadors?

There’s no shortage of enthusiasm from those now running the green capital programme to engage with businesses. The initial details released last Friday show support and encouragement through a range of events and projects ranging from the Go Green scheme helping businesses become more competitive to showcases of the way the city’s innovation and creativity are being harnessed to tackle green issues and improve the quality of life in Bristol.

But so far it’s been a one-way conversation. Many people at the top of businesses in Bristol see the green capital year as a little more than a talking point – probably good for the city’s profile but of no value in the real corporate world. A bit like Bristol City getting into the Premiership for a season – a one-off to be enjoyed while it’s happening but that won’t have any lasting value.

They’re wrong. Businesses need to get on board and get behind the green capital. They need to show that it’s good for business. There are some notable exceptions – Business West, the organisation behind Bristol Chamber of Commerce, is leading from the front and taking the message to the business community. But it can only do so much.

Next year Bristol will be the only city in the world to have a meaningful, official ‘green’ label. It could be a gamechanger – lifting an already vibrant and innovative city into the big league. For once, Bristol will be playing in a division higher than Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool – even London.

So come on Bristol businesses. Show your support for the green capital and help keep Bristol in the top tier of forward-thinking cities for more than just a year.

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