Multi-million pound private sector support pledged for Bristol’s year as European Green Capital

August 8, 2014

Transport operator FirstGroup and accountants KPMG have signed multi-million pound agreements to support Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in what was today described as among the largest private-sector sponsorships in the city’s history.

The deals, a mixture of financial and value-in-kind support, make up the strongest private-sector commitment made to any city to become European Green Capital and will help put Bristol on the global map as a centre for innovation in sustainability and green tech.

Bristol 2015 Ltd, the company set up to run Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015, said the backing will make a significant contribution to the success of the year and will support and enable sustainable living in the city and help create a lasting legacy.

Chairman Andrew Garrad said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce one of the largest private sector sponsorship deals that Bristol has ever seen. It’s brilliant to see these businesses making such a commitment to the city and the opportunities which being European Green Capital will offer.”

The funding from KPMG and FirstGroup – financial details of which have not been disclosed – follows £7m of Government funding announced earlier this year.

Bristol 2015 expects to announce further private sector sponsorships in the coming months, moving to a focus on the digital and technology sector.

Collectively, this funding will enable Bristol 2015 to deliver its ambitious vision, giving the city the opportunity to explore new ideas in sustainable innovation and set the agenda in the run-up to the UN Climate Change discussions in Paris in 2015.

Initiatives, activities and projects supported by FirstGroup and KPMG’s sponsorship agreements include:

* The Bristol 2015 grant funding programme, which supports neighbourhood, community and local business sustainability initiatives

*A sustainable living programme in UK schools

*A series of international high-profile summits on climate change

*A volunteer programme that will embrace small and medium-sized firms and frontline businesses

              *A year-long international green-tech festival

              *The Bristol Prize. An annual award to champion innovations which help cities and their people be more resilient in the face of climate change.

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, who is also a Bristol 2015 Ltd board member, added: “This substantial sponsorship from FirstGroup and KPMG is a tremendous endorsement of the importance of European Green Capital 2015 to Bristol and the UK.

“This multi million pound package, added to the Government’s funding, will help us meet the ambition of positioning us as a global leader in sustainable urban living and to make Bristol a happier, healthier city for all.”

FirstGroup, which operates most buses and trains in the Bristol area, said its partnership with Bristol 2015 will make Bristol a test-bed for sustainable transport innovation.

Chief executive Tim O’Toole said: “Bristol has always had a reputation for setting the public transport agenda, and I’m delighted we can continue that tradition by announcing our partnership with Bristol 2015. As part of this partnership we will work to make Bristol a test-bed for sustainable transport innovation that brings together FirstGroup’s unique mix of global expertise and local knowledge with the city’s commitment to find sustainable solutions to the challenges of the increasingly congested world in which we live.

“In the past four months alone, First Great Western and First West of England have helped people in Bristol make a million more journeys by public transport in the city, helping ease congestion. However, we must constantly strive to make using public transport even easier and more attractive and we hope our involvement with Bristol 2015 will help to do this.

“We’re already talking to the city council about working together to extend the integration of our smart ticketing initiatives across bus and rail, trial a fleet of low-emission buses, and provide further technical support for the MetroWest rail scheme. We hope this work will provide a long-lasting legacy for everyone in Bristol both into, and well beyond, 2015.”

Phil Cotton, partner and south chairman of KPMG, which has a large office in Bristol, said: “KPMG is incredibly excited to be able to support Bristol 2015. This is a major opportunity for business, government and the communities in Bristol and beyond to work together to drive long term change and make Bristol a better place to live and do business, both now and in the future.

“By 2050, seven out of 10 people will live in a city and this exponential growth means it is vital that we address the challenges of sustainability in our urban areas and work collaboratively to find the right solutions. Our team of advisors will work with the Bristol 2015 team to raise Bristol’s profile as a global leader, accessing our UK and international networks.”

The European Green Capital Award was launched in 2008 by the European Commission to promote and reward the efforts of cities and their local authorities to improve the environment. Past winners include Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes and Copenhagen, which holds the title this year.

Pictured, from left: Andrew Garrad, chairman of Bristol 2015, George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, Julian Cockwell, partner at KPMG, and Tim O’Toole, chief executive FirstGroup. Photo by Jon Craig

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