• Brighton pier (SPRU)


Brighton & Hove is a coastal city of 270,000 people in the South-East of the UK that is included in the wider South Downs National Park. The local economy is based predominantly in services, health sector, education, and tourism. It was the first city in the UK to elect the Green Party into power in May 2011 and is the only city in the country that is represented by a Green MP in Parliament. The city Brighton & Hove is also the world’s first designated One Planet City.

In the city of Brighton & Hove there are some 80-100 local transition initiatives that are driven by people that live or work in the city region, which aim to change services, approaches, routines, practices and/or infrastructure, within the city towards sustainability. The Big Lemon Bus, the Biosphere Partnership, and Hanover Centre Carbon Reduction Awareness and Community Engagement (RACE) Project are just a few, not to mention a plethora of cycling, recycling, gardening, food and allotment groups, energy co-ops and wildlife preservation initiatives.

Why Brighton for examining accelerating sustainability transitions?

Sustainability has been a priority in the corporate plan for the city council since the Greens came into power in 2011. The principles of One Planet Living have informed a sustainability action plan whose ultimate goals are to achieve One Planet sustainability by 2050. The plan has involved different stakeholders taking on the roles of ‘principle leads’ for various aspects of the sustainability action plan.

Linked to the plan is the City Sustainability Partnership, a cross-sector initiative which has overseen the One Planet activities and debates during this period. There are also cross-sector working groups and consultative committees. Local actions include co-ordinated eco-houses open days, community cookery projects, bike trains, city ‘nature wardens’, community gardening, green technology shows and business training programmes, communal recycling, timber recycling projects, and an award-winning passive solar library.

With local and national elections coming up in May 2015, however, there is the possibility of changes to the way that sustainability is governed within the city-region. The introduction of the Biosphere Partnership, in particular, could provide opportunities for greater integration of environmental goals and actions within broader economic strategies for Brighton & Hove and the surrounding local authorities. These possible changes in governance dynamics will be subject to ongoing research and reflection from the ARTS team and in wider stakeholder engagement processes as the project progresses.  The influence of local transition initiatives within these processes will also be an important topic within the project, which is keen to understand how they may be involved in accelerating progress towards sustainability in the city-region. For a recent summary of the ARTS project from a local, Brighton-based blogger of transitionfreepress, please click here.

Transition initiatives: A snapshot

The first step in our research was to create a mapping of transition initiatives in Brighton & Hove. The final product is not an exhaustive list, but gives a good snapshot of current activities that fit into our definition of transition initiatives, i.e. locally-based activities which drive transformative change towards environmental sustainability of existing societal systems in multiple domains. Click on the icon below to download the full list. They are predominantly civil society-led and many are fairly recent (established after 2010). In terms of the domains tackled by these initiatives we found a relatively even spread across our suggested categories – energy, transport, food, water, resource management, built environment, nature conservation and education and knowledge development for sustainability – with many initiatives tackling multiple domains. Also in terms of the geographical scale the initiatives are focusing on, there seems to be spread across different scales (from neighbourhood to city-region scale).

Please click here for the full list of Transition Initiatives