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Portsmouth City Council: Portsmouth's climate festival

Portsmouth climate festival was an event to raise awareness of the climate challenges in the city, highlighting both the implications of climate change for Portsmouth, and the opportunities to make a positive difference. It was organised through a partnership of Portsmouth University, Portsmouth City Council and the Climate Action Board.

The challenge

Portsmouth Climate Festival was held between Friday 22 October and Friday 12 November and featured a range of online and in-person events and activities, inspired by the need for urgent action on climate in Portsmouth. The format of the event was an "umbrella festival" with organisations, communities and individuals encouraged to submit ideas for events that they would run and administer, but which would be highlighted as part of an overall programme, with branding and publicity associated with this. It was the first event of its kind in the city.

The City Council and University took responsibility for organising anchor events for the festival, with the Council hosting a reception on the opening day of the event as a launch, and the University organising a closing Question Time. The Council ran the Big Climate Conversation at the Guildhall on 9 and 10 November showcasing the work that the council has going on to tackle this agenda featuring a number of speakers and exhibitors. The University held a number of events related to the Revolution Plastics work. Both organisations created a number of other events throughout the programme.

The solution

The Council led a successful funding bid to the South West Energy Hub for resource to develop events in support of the COP26 themes and this funding has enabled them to hire venues and develop materials (including the Festival website) at no additional cost to the partner organisations.

The impact

The programme included a number of performances at venues across the city of the family-friendly mini-musical The Adventures of Florence and the Mermaid's Tears, produced by local company People and Stories, and funded by the Arts Council.

Other events on the programme included walks and talks, litter picks and shore cleaning, film screenings and participatory events including sustainable textiles and growing food. In total, around 40 events were promoted through the programme.

The variety of formats and venues meant that the climate issue was given wide reach and accessibility across the city.

How is the new approach being sustained?

Full evaluation of the event needs to take place to understand how many people engaged and what the impact of this was, and also to consider next steps including whether there is appetite to run the event again next year and if so, what improvements or adjustments might need to be made. The event was pulled together quite quickly, so any future event would have a longer planning time and would provide opportunities, for example for sponsorship to fund the event.

Lessons learned

Full lessons will be developed as part of the evaluation.


Kelly Nash, [email protected]

Portsmouth Climate Festival logo