Harvard comes to Bristol

Monday marked the official kick-off of the Bloomberg Harvard Bristol Collaboration Track, a project with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which is a programme that aims to advance leadership, management, and innovation in cities by equipping mayors and senior city officials with skills, tools, and techniques to tackle municipal challenges.

The Collaboration Track is a specialised course in which cities are supported by Harvard to tackle challenges and overcome barriers through cross-boundary collaboration. Following my involvement in the Bloomberg Harvard Leadership Course last year, Bristol was successfully admitted on to this course with the Harvard Team and we chose to focus our combined energy and expertise on the issues of food and food waste in the city.

To kickstart the project, the Harvard team will be engaging with the local expertise of a wide variety of partners and stakeholders, food surplus charities, food manufacturers, waste contractors, and sector specialists to fully understand the citywide picture in regards to food, the aim being the creation of a citywide ecosystem around food surplus and food waste.

As we all know, Bristol is a leading city when it comes to sustainability. We were the first city to declare a climate emergency in 2018, and have since delivered on our One City Goal to have wildlife-friendly food growing areas established in every ward in the city, achieving the Gold Sustainable Food City award last year in the process. It is both this work and the culture of collaboration in Bristol that we have generated through our One City Approach, that lead us to the food focus of this Bloomberg Harvard Collaboration Track project.

This project represents an exciting opportunity to further contribute to the long history of fantastic work and collaboration in the city’s food and food waste area. But there is still much work to be done to achieve the level of impact that will be necessary to significantly reduce and repurpose food waste on a citywide scale.

Following the successful event on Monday, the next steps for the assembled 40 representatives from food and food waste organisations, charities, and services around the city, and the Bristol and Bloomberg Harvard Teams, are to scope the problem statement agreed on the day and to create and commit to a structured programme for activity going forward.

Contact information has been shared between attendees and the coordinating teams to facilitate communication on the progression of the project and on this upcoming collaboration towards creating a citywide ecosystem around food surplus and food waste.

In the wake of this fantastic first step in the collaboration track, I am hopeful that by coming together as a city, with guidance from the prestigious Harvard University, we can address this complex challenge and continue to be a leading city in the fight against the climate and ecological emergencies.