Global Climate Strike

Today’s blog comes from Bristol Youth Mayors Siena Jackson-Wolfe and Mohamed youth mayors 2Aidid.

It is of the utmost importance that on an issue as complicated and prevalent as climate change we all work together to come up with tangible solutions.

The strikes across the world show a passion in people that is exciting and promising for our future. What we think is even more promising is the fact that this is ultimately led by the youth. The young people of the world, starting with Greta Thunberg, are standing up and voicing their opinions. Letting the world know what they want and making sure they’re heard. What is more it is working.The strikes nationally and globally have been instrumental in pushing the climate problem up on both local and national governments agenda.

However, it is now important to engage in a high-level debate and join in the dialogue with change makers to ensure that actions are being implemented. Bristol’s One City Plan has outlined Bristol’s aims in tackling this issue. When compared to Friends of the Earth list of actions that all local government should take, Bristol City Council is currently either doing or scoping all but three of them. In one case this failure to match is because the council has already got separate plans in place. For example Bristol is implementing alternative-fueled buses (50% of Bristol’s buses will be alternative fuel by 2028) opposed to Friends of the Earth’s call for electric buses.

The strike today is forecast to be the biggest one yet and this show of youth passion and enthusiasm for such a demanding issue is inspiring. However as with all causes there are still some issues.

We have the young and old coming together but now we also need to ensure a more diverse demographic is being reached to express their opinions on this issue to enable more young people to have a voice. Without this diversity the strikes fail to have the same impact in their demands as the calls aren’t necessarily representative of the entirety of Bristol’s young people.

In this strike today we both hope to see a wider spectrum of Bristol’s youth present because we cannot brush away the conversation around race and representation. We know that the youth climate strike group have been pushing for areas not before represented to be present and we hope this is obvious today.

Greta Thunberg has famously said, “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire.” 

The strikes are just the start of this action and now we need to make sure we are communicating with Bristol’s change makers to help make tangible change. Our voices are important but we need to follow through and be part of the solutions.

 

Green New Deal

KyeToday’s guest blog is by Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet lead for Energy, Transport and Green New Deal. 

Last week, I visited Thrive Renewables’ Wind Farm in Avonmouth to celebrate their 25th birthday and I also launched the City Leap prospectus: recognising the history of renewables in Bristol and taking a massive step forward for delivering a decarbonised energy system for Bristol. This is a world first. We are seeking £1 billion of investment to lead the way on carbon reduction, to help enable Bristol to be the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2030.

Bristol has always been at the cutting edge of environmentalism, and we’re proud to carry on this tradition. We were one of the first cities to own a wind turbine or an energy company, and were the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency. Marvin has taken telling the truth on the dire global environmental straits which we face to the national stage, winning the support of 435 councils across the country both for the climate emergency declaration and for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – which will see us continue to prioritise delivering social justice and environmental justice hand-in-hand.

Friday 20th will see a national climate strike, and we are expecting demonstrations in Bristol to show solidarity with youth climate strikers, demand climate action from central government. As a trade unionist I know the importance of standing up and taking action when change is necessary. As it happens on the morning of the 20th I will be holding a gate meeting at a delivery office to encourage workers in Royal Mail to vote yes to take strike action in the forthcoming national industrial action ballot that the CWU has called.

KD turbine

Although protest has a place in raising awareness, it won’t deliver the solutions the climate crisis needs. Where Labour is in power, our focus is on action now. Just in the last fortnight or so this Labour council has signed off an extra £7 million investment to progress world-leading new technology in the city which cuts energy bills and carbon emissions. We are busy delivering low-carbon heat networks in Bristol – including a new low-carbon water source heat pump in the Floating Harbour.

Also last week, as the UK’s first council cabinet member for the Green New Deal, I was proud to move and support our motion backing the campaign to radically transform and clean up our economy. And in the council chamber I was proud to highlight the need not only for hundreds of thousands of green new jobs but also the just transition for workers. That means skills programmes together with the investment which both people and planet need to survive and thrive in the future.

A practical example of this would mean retraining gas fitters in engineering heat pumps and other green technology. How we engage with workers in jobs at risk from climate change, the need to tackle climate change and automation is extremely important. The Green New Deal is about offering the right economic and skills package to support the current workforce and the future workforce. It is also about looking at world of work and the time spent at work with policies like a four day working week – bringing people with us, rather than blaming them for the jobs they do. The way we tackle this is through the right national regulations, taxes, and incentives, engaging throughout with workers and their representatives, enabling people struggling to make ends meet to make greener choices.

As I said in the chamber, this is not just a nice thing to do, or the right thing to do, but key to delivering our objective. Because if you don’t bring people with you on this journey, they’re against you, which makes delivering carbon neutrality almost impossible to achieve. We need take action to make the transition to a greener economy a just one that puts working people at its heart.

Spaghetti Western

Western Harbour - CB Bristol Design 2019 (1)

Our initial engagement on the future of Western Harbour is now completed – although we remain open to receiving paper copies of the feedback forms.

The opportunity Western Harbour presents for Bristol is so significant because the challenges our city faces are so significant. We face a housing crisis with over 12,000 families on the waiting list and the worst affordability ratio of rent to wages of the Core Cities. Add to this the fact that our population is set to continuously grow. We must minimise the environmental impact of our city’s growth through sustainable buildings and developments that reduce car dependency.  We must significantly strengthen our flood defences as Bristol faces the increased likelihood of the 1 in 100 year flood. Like other cities, our city centre retail is threatened by weakening high street sales.

All of these challenges mean we must proactively put residential, employment, retail and destination venues in the city to ensure Bristol isn’t “hollowed out”. And in the face of growing inequality and social and political division, we must make spaces for people from all parts of Bristol.

The opportunity is to build over 2,000 homes including much needed affordable. These homes would be a seven minute bike ride or 25 minute walk to jobs, shopping and entertainment in the city centre. The opportunity is to build the flood defenses into the development in a sympathetic rather than intrusive way. And it is to remove the 1960s flyovers that have dominated that part of Bristol since before I was born and to open up the waterfront as a welcoming destination for more people.

There has long been ideas for the potential of the land and waterfront – one of the most attractive areas in the city that has been lost to the spaghetti of flyovers and on ramps. But the ideas put forward have remained just that, ideas.

But we have identified a window of opportunity to make ideas real, one that we believe cannot be missed. We face the end of the life of the swing bridge and flyover and the prospect of having to spend £40m to maintain it. We could sink this money into maintaining a status quo that represents lost social, environmental and economic potential, or we can turn it into an investment that releases something better for Bristol. I believe investing in our ability to provide affordable and sustainable homes, increase active travel and reduce car dependency, defend ourselves against floods, strengthen our city centre and make our waterfront a destination for all to be the best use of scarce public money.

There have been a number of concerns raised about the prospect of change to Western Harbour. For our part, we wanted to talk with people as early in the process as possible, to get their views. That is what the past few months have been about. It’s not been a formal consultation, but an effort to ensure as many of the challenges and opportunities were presented at the very start.

The flyover has never been a popular road layout and was built when roads were king and when the city’s population was so much smaller and effective use of land was less crucial. The changes to the road and bridge are simply what’s needed to be moved to free up the land and water.

I can understand people’s concerns about change and I can see that where there has been space – due in part because we are engaging so early – that people may fill these spaces with their worst fears. But we should all be thinking more of Wapping Wharf than Canary Wharf. Last week I was at the ‘topping out’ ceremony of the second phase of that successful development that has quickly become so vibrant.  It also shows what is possible with mixed communities. That development now has 256 homes, 49 homes for shared ownership and 81 affordable. And it is now a destination.

We will publish the wider plans for the housing and mixed use in Western Harbour as soon as we can and I look forward to working with communities, business and all stakeholders on the next stages towards development.

City planning can not be carried out in the abstract. Our context is that the world is changing and our city is changing at break-neck speed. The status quo is not an option and these changes demand that we act now. But we will not act from fear or on the back-foot. Instead we will be proactive and driven by our values. Our values that drive us to deliver homes, mixed communities, opening up the city centre to all, of jobs and a vibrant city centre, an inclusive economy and by our commitment to build a carbon neutral city are at the heart of these plans.

These are exciting times.

My week with the Mayor’s Office: Chelsea & Libby

Today’s guest blog comes from Chelsea and Libby who have spent a week gaining work experience in the Mayor’s Office and Labour Group Office at City Hall.

Chelsea

My name is Chelsea, and this summer I spent a week participating in work experience with the Mayor’s office and Bristol Labour Group. I secured this placement after participating in the Bristol City Leadership Programme in July 2018 – where I met many leaders from across Bristol, including the Mayor, Anna Starkey, Jeremy Sweetland and more!

During my time in the Mayor’s Office, I helped with a variety of office tasks and shadowed the Mayor. The tasks included drafting emails in response to invites; helping with paperwork; sorting the questions for Bristol Question Time and summarising important news articles for the team. When shadowing the Mayor, I accompanied him while he recorded a video with Immediate Media to promote City Leap and as he spoke at the RIBA forum.

While with the Labour office, I was given an overview of the council from a political perspective, tours of the political offices of each party, and completed tasks for the Labour Office, such as checking the news for relevant bodies of the Bristol City Council.

I also had the chance to attend a planning meeting in the Chambers where they discussed the specific plans for construction and changes to the Bristol area. This allowed me to gain insight into how debates work, how the public gain the ability to have a say in the way Councillors and the Mayor change Bristol.

Finally, I met with several councillors. On Tuesday, I learnt what corporate parenting is while shadowing Cllr Helen Godwin during a meeting on the issue. During the event, I met with many other people, including care workers, care leavers, people from the NHS and Councillors that are responsible for children in the care system. This also gave me insight into what Councillors do and the hard work and dedication they put into their areas of concern. Meanwhile, while in the Labour Office I had a meeting with the councillor for the Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward – Jo Sergeant.

I decided to do this work placement to gain insight into the functioning of Bristol City Council and high profile events. Overall, my time at the Mayor’s Office was exciting, and I learnt a lot. Thank you to the Mayor and his team for having me.

Libby

My name is Libby, and I had the amazing opportunity of getting a week’s work experience in the Mayor’s office. Over the week, I was able to expand my knowledge and find out about the different functions within the council and the plan for Bristol’s development. As a year 10 student, I haven’t had the opportunity to study law and politics, so this was my first proper insight into the system. From it, I was able to work on my communication and develop new skills.

Throughout the week, the office had me attend different meetings and take part in tasks to give me the best experience possible. Here are some of my favourite moments. On the first day, I was introduced to the office and set up with my own laptop, which made me feel like a proper part of the team.

On Tuesday, I met with two of the cabinet members about their role in the council. One was Kye Dudd, who is the Cabinet member for Transport and Energy, and the other was Paul Smith, who is the Cabinet member for Housing. As well as this, I was able to attend the Full Council meeting. This was a really cool experience to see how people act in a professional environment. I often found myself doing further research on certain things to gain a higher understanding.

On Thursday, I attended the video launch of the #WeAreBristol Campaign at the Watershed, where Marvin Rees gave a speech on divisions in Bristol and how we are all linked in some way. Having gone to a diverse school, it is important for me to have a united community.

Overall, it was an exciting week in which I learned lots of new skills to help me further in life. I now know how the Mayor’s Office functions and what a working environment is like. I loved working with the team and getting to see behind the scenes. Thank you!

Extinction Rebellion

It’s the week after the week before in which many parts of central Bristol were brought to a standstill by Extinction Rebellion. Views on the cause, action and tactics varied.

I want to share some reflections. But I do this making clear that it is possible to question and challenge a group about its approach without being misinterpreted as undermining the goal, in this case, addressing the climate crisis.

I believe in protest as a lever in the democratic process. I am a student of black American politics. I participated in the Jubilee 2000 and the World Bank/IMF and anti-globalisation protests. They shifted public opinion and political awareness and supported real changes to the structures of international finance that drove poverty and the associated consequences for instability, migration and deforestation in the global south.

Extinction Rebellion has played an important role by putting climate change high up on the political agenda. I will be one of many city leaders who welcome this. We have been stressing the need for central government certainty and investment in transport and infrastructure so are be able to deliver the carbon neutral future we have committed to. Government for its part continues to disappear into itself, consumed by Brexit, power contests and delayed, unpredictable and zero-sum funding rounds. Anything that helps get Westminster looking outward is welcome.

But there are challenges.

Blocking the M32 was a tactical error.

Ahead of the planned protests, we agreed with Extinction Rebellion a Memorandum of Understanding to manage the protesters gathered in the Castle Park area. We closed roads around Bristol Bridge to ensure the safety of protesters and the wider public. The planned action was very high profile, and the message was being heard. But once protesters broke our agreement by blocking the M32, Extinction Rebellion began alienating members of the public with every inconvenience. I have been clear that this action stepped over the line, and I think it was a tactical error for the movement that ultimately proved to be counterproductive.

An emergency requires solutions.

I have asked XR for the specific actions they would like the city to take. The challenge is that beyond “tell the truth” and “act now” I have heard little yet in terms of specifics. There are obvious problems with this. If you have no agreed list of specific asks/demands, how do you know that what people are currently doing isn’t enough and isn’t being done fast enough? Secondly, if people say “OK, what do you want?” you have nothing to say.

This happened in the BBC3 documentary, Extinction Rebellion: Last Chance to Save the World. In an interview, the founder of the movement was asked “Does Extinction Rebellion have proposals for how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025?” To which response was “No, because that’s not our job”.

I have noticed that when spokespeople are asked, they revert to highlighting the scale and immediacy of the crisis. I agree it is immediate, which is why I believe everyone must be developing solutions. If you are on a sinking ship, those who think through solutions, no matter how basic, are more helpful than those who continue to shout the ship is sinking.

As a council, we have successfully achieved our corporate target to reduce carbon emissions two years early with a 71% reduction of carbon emissions in 2017/18 (against a 2005 baseline) and last week we announced our action plan in response to the climate emergency declaration.

And the city is following our lead and stepping up to take responsibility. The City Office has established a city Environment and Sustainability Board to agree to a series of environmental goals up to 2050 through the One City Plan. I’m hopeful we can work with partners across the city to come up with clear steps and milestones to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and beyond.

Signing contracts, running procurement processes, addressing planning, participating in drawn-out negotiations are not as exciting or glamorous as protest, but it’s where many of the things that need to get done actually get done in local government. Again, protest has a critical place in our democracy, but it must be deployed wisely, understanding the people and institutions it is targeting, and with a clear set of actions it wants.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are vital to XR’s campaign if it is going to truly fulfil its stated aim of being a wide-reaching and representative democratic movement.

Democracy isn’t merely a question of voting rights for those in the club. It’s also about openness, connectivity and accountability to outsiders. Without doubt, class hierarchy and global racism are integral to a system whereby the global north has secured their growth without regard to the planet in general and Africa, Asia and South America in particular. These systems robbed so many people of the opportunity to shape the world and their place in it – now they threaten their futures too.

For XR to be successful, and bring people with them on their cause, becoming more diverse and inclusive is the challenge they have to take on.

We face a climate emergency, and we need action now. It’s about focused action and results. A friend of mine said a problem well defined is a problem half solved. We need a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the emergency itself, of the people and institutions in play, of what is required for success, and we need everyone developing solutions.

I have asked to meet with the leaders of Bristol XR again to suggest real solutions and actions for our city to tackle the climate crisis, so that they can be part of the conversation to affect real change.

#WeAreBristol

WeAreBristol Launch 3 - CB Bristol Design 2019

Today we launched a new campaign with the #WeAreBristol film. The film shows 60 Bristol strangers who were randomly selected to come together and take part in a social experiment.

IMG_6579The people in the film represent everyone in Bristol – young, old, rich, poor, people who have always lived here, and people who have moved here from other parts of the world. It is easy to say that on the surface these people are different. But what the film shows is that actually they have far more in common than you would think.

Films and campaigns like this are vital, particularly at a time when many people would say the UK has never been more divided. It is vital because it makes us stop and think. It challenges us to reflect on our own behaviour – do we judge people before we have even heard them speak? Do we make assumptions about a situation because of pre-conceived prejudice?

It is true that political fractures have led to a rise in race-related hate crime. These fractures and the anonymity provided by social media, have seen a surge in both subtle and blatantly obvious discriminatory remarks.  It’s led many people to think it is ok to openly share and display feelings of intolerance.

The #WeAreBristol campaign which starts today says in Bristol we can be different. We can take steps to shut down intolerance, be proud of Bristol’s diversity and stand side by side with our neighbours – no matter where they come from or what they believe in.

Our views, our lifestyles and even the way we look might be different, but deep down we are the same. We are human. We are Bristol.

Please watch and share the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g8ILrUEf1k

 

435 councils back Bristol’s pledge to deliver the UN’s SDGs and declare a climate emergency.

On Tuesday, I was proud to move a motion for Bristol at the Local Government Association (LGA) which saw 435 local councils declare a climate emergency and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As co-chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors, the local leaders I meet rally around common challenges — rapid urbanisation or depopulation, delivering affordable housing and growing the economy without increasing inequality that undermines our social fabric, population health, air quality, and climate change.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global targets for 2030, set by the UN General Assembly, that offer a coordinated framework for tackling these issues through sustainable development. They build on the Millennium Development Goals and cover a range of interdependent challenges that we are all grappling with. Poverty, hunger, climate change, decent work, inclusive growth and global partnerships are all central to the agreement

They SDGs cannot be delivered solely through the drive of national governments. All levels of government — local, regional, national, and international — must work together. Local leadership, with its immediate connection the complexity of people’s lives, is well positioned to tackle the challenges we face at a time when national governments are falling short. We are making a case for empowering local government to tackle the issues on the ground in our communities.

I was pleased to work with my colleague from Wakefield to amend the SDG motion to include a declaration of climate emergency in response to the IPCC report. Their report advised that we must limit global warming to 1.5°C, as opposed to the previous target of 2°C. Their review of over 6,000 sources of evidence found that, with a rise of 1.5°C, there would be risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth. An increase to 2°C would be even more catastrophic.

In Bristol, we’ve aligned our One City Plan to the SDGs – underpinning a collective city-wide commitment to their delivery. What’s more, the SDGs ensure we recognise the interdependence of our challenges. One of the worst features of the Twitter-isation of our politics is single-issue campaigns, which give little or no thought to other vital areas of public concern. After all, ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with creating jobs, developing the economy and saving the planet from climate emergency.

Sustainability must be delivered by realising environmental, economic, social and political justice at the same time. While environmental injustice compounds social injustice, poverty — a lived reality which too many struggle with — robs people of the financial and emotional space to think beyond the crisis of today, to the crisis of tomorrow. With the SDGs insisting that we recognise interdependence, we are ensuring that our efforts to address climate change recognise this reality.

But as we know, cities and local government face a continued challenge from funding pressures and increased demand. Alongside our partners, leaders across the UK have a huge role to play, and this motion is an important milestone on this journey. We must be empowered to plan, implement, monitor, and adapt to deliver on the SDGs and avert the climate emergency.

Once again, our administration is partnering with councils across the country to lobby Government for the resources to build a better Bristol, country and world.

Trading Places

IMG_5102

This week I led a delegation to Boston and Chicago in the USA.

The trip was focussed on growing trade and investment in Bristol and we took with us several businesses from Bristol and the wider region.    The visit was fully supported by the government, we were accompanied by the government’s Department for International trade (DIT), and my travel was fully funded by the Chicago Council for Global Affairs.

The businesses who came with us included:

  • Rixxo, which is a digital campaign agency, working with businesses in Bristol and around the world to engage wider audiences.
  • Sparkol, software company which produces videos and animation for other companies.
  • YellowDog, the most interestingly named company, which expands capacity for companies and simplifies complexity in digital processes.

The West of England Mayor and some businesses from the wider region also came.

As you can tell from the list above, this was a high tech-focussed visit  and we chose Boston and Chicago as cities who could be successfully targeted to grow contacts and inward business for Bristol’s tech economy. This is great for Bristol, as successful companies will grow and create more jobs for people. I have invited them to share their success in my blog next week – watch this space.

IMG-20190607-WA0002While in Boston, I also took the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Boston, and several of his department commissioners, looking at issues common to our two cities.   Boston and Bristol have a lot in common and I’m not just referring to history.  Both cities have growing young populations and a strong migrant population.  Both cities have a high proportion of citizens with higher level qualifications and both of us have seen the widening of the inequality gap. We also both have housing need as our number one priority and both have to deal with a huge daytime growth of people in the city, from commuters coming into the city to work and visit.

We were able to share and learn with Boston and we discussed the challenges of physical participation in sport and mental health challenges. I was delighted to be able to introduce the work of Empire Fighting Chance and the work they are doing with mental health intervention for disadvantaged communities.

We also looked at the innovative transport infrastructure system, The Greenway, with tunnel systems which takes traffic out of the built up areas and instead provides pleasant green pedestrianised space.

We were able to look at the growing challenges of adult and children’s social care.  Major cities in America are facing even bigger challenges than we are so it was good to hear their experiences and solutions.

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In Chicago, I was honoured to meet Chicago’s newly elected first female black mayor,

Lori Lightfoot. I then joined the Global Cities Forum where I spoke with other mayors on the growing understanding of the leading role cities play in tackling the 21st century challenges, including migration and population growth.

Cities continue to grow and within 10 years, 60% of people across the world will live in cities.

The role of internationalism is important to Bristol as a major city and we must embrace the opportunity to make connections with cities and global agencies and crucially bring new trade and investment to our city. Investment in infrastructure is essential to a city with a rapidly growing population like ours and to hide away from that fact and the urgent need for modern infrastructure and inclusive growth would be an abrogation of responsibility of city leadership.

Look out for next week’s blog, including stories from the businesses who came with us.

Hit for Six – Cricket World Cup comes to Bristol

CWC photo 2Hosting three men’s ICC Cricket World Cup tournament matches next month is another landmark achievement for this city. It’s a reminder of the priority we place on sport, not just as a means to connect globally but to celebrate the inclusiveness of Bristol.

Reigning champions Australia, past winners Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in action in group games at the County Ground between 1st – 11th June. And with South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand also playing pre-tournament warm-up games here this month, there is no better opportunity for our city’s diverse communities to enjoy a global sporting event together.

Bristol successfully hosted eight ICC Women’s World Cup matches in 2017 and our status as a host city for the men’s tournament this summer continues to show we are delivering world class sports events to the city.

The Circuit of the Mendips, the Tour of Britain and a future for T20 cricket internationals in Bristol are among events to have been hosted or secured in recent years. We have also declared our ambition for Bristol to be a host city for the football’s 2030 World Cup, should a bid from this country proceed.

But securing major events is only one of several priorities within our approach to sport.

Bristol was named as a European City of Sport for 2017 because of our sporting facilities, level of participation, success of local teams and sporting events – and our Bristol Active City website continues to promote activities taking place across the city.

Our proud cultural and sporting history is a core contributor to the ongoing success of the city and to making Bristol a better place to live. Our ‘City of Openness, Imagination and Originators’ strategy sets out our ambitions to ensure that every citizen should be able to participate in and benefit from the city’s cultural and sporting life.

Bristol is the most active of the Core Cities, with over 70% of citizens meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s Guidance on physical activity, but the challenges posed by economic and social inequalities remain.

Sport and general physical activity plays an important role in both physical and mental health and well-being. We want to inspire all people to get involved, be it by providing services, being open to ideas and enabling others to run events, or continuing to work with community groups to promote sport and physical activity in under-represented groups.

Campaigns such as ‘Bristol Girls Can’ aim to break down the barriers around exercise and inspire more women to get active, while the Empire Fighting Chance boxing project challenges and inspires young people to realise their potential. Run4Life has been delivering Beginner Running Courses across Bristol since January 2015 and the 16th June Let’s Ride cycling festival, in partnership with British Cycling, is an example of a fun activity open to all.

I hope that the arrival of the men’s Cricket World Cup in Bristol will connect, entertain and inspire our citizens and visitors alike, helping us to achieve the goal of creating healthier and more resilient communities.

Children Rights at 30

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Those were the words of the great Nelson Mandela who was a powerful advocate of the rights of children and the responsibilities nations and communities have to support, develop and protect the next generation.

At a gathering in London today, I and Cllr Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, joined others from across the UK to celebrate the world’s foremost commitment to children, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We discussed and debated the impact of this monumental declaration of the rights of the child whilst also reflecting on the reality of being a young person growing up in 2019.

The challenges that face children, young people and families are laid bare by the many headlines written about child poverty, increasing inequality and the impact of austerity on the services people rely on. But the question that I ask and is asked of me is; “what are you doing about it?”

Nelson Mandela also said: “Each of us as citizens has a role to play in creating a better world for our children.”

Those words are reflected in our own city’s commitment to children and young people, The Bristol Children’s Charter, which addresses its 10 commitments by saying: “No single organisation or agency can make enough progress towards these aspirations alone. Partners commit to working together to deliver this vision for all children to create a thriving city that is good for everyone.”

Our approach to support, develop and protect children and young people is a collective one. We work together with other agencies, charities, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, youth organisations and most importantly families, to put in place the structures and activities needed to deliver on our shared ambitions.

As a council we have invested £3.2m a year in youth services, which is delivering targeted services for the most deprived communities in the city. We can only do this by working with charities, youth organisations, NHS, Police and many others.

As a city we’re on the road to eradicating period poverty by pulling together the creative and organisational wealth of the city. All sectors are engaged in this movement that Cllr Godwin is driving ahead with our partners.

We’re building schools, tackling youth homelessness, delivering apprenticeships and feeding children during the summer holidays.

This and much, much more is being done because we, like the UN community, agree that the rights of the child are our responsibility to uphold and deliver.