Bristol has won an international award that will see it become European Green Capital in 2015.

The announcement was made on Friday June 14, 2013 at a ceremony in Nantes, France, which holds the current title. Bristol beat rivals Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana – the capital of Slovenia – in a tightly fought contest.

On receiving the award in Nantes, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson welcomed the decision:

George Ferguson said: “This demonstrates Bristol’s ambition to be a pioneering green city and is recognition for the many years of hard work and dedication by the city council, businesses and the people of Bristol to make our city more environmentally friendly.

“We will now be turning our attention to staging an inspiring programme of events in 2015 which will be centred around the idea of Bristol as a ‘Laboratory for Change’. I have offered Bristol as a test-bed for environmental ideas in 2015, where we will develop pioneering practices which will not only benefit Bristol, but will hopefully become a model for cities around the world.

“We are very aware that we have much more work to do to become a truly sustainable city but we look forward to sharing that journey with people from across Bristol and Europe. This announcement couldn’t have been better timed. This weekend sees the start of Bristol’s BIG Green Week and the Bristol Festival of Nature, so I invite all to come into the heart of Bristol and celebrate with us.”

Savita Custead was part of the team that presented Bristol’s bid to the jury in Brussels in May and is the Chief Executive of the Bristol Natural History Consortium which organises the Bristol Festival of Nature.

She said: “Bristol is a hub of environmental businesses, organisations and individuals who work together to help promote green ideas and enjoy our natural spaces and resources. This weekend we have over 25 major exhibitors attending the Festival of Nature to share their love of the environment with the people of Bristol, and that is a perfect example of how our joined up thinking has helped us to become the European Green Capital for 2015.”

Martin Bigg, Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership said: “Winning this prestigious prize is a reflection of our commitment to the environment and is a fantastic opportunity to generate jobs and promote inward investment. The award demonstrates that turning Bristol into a low-carbon city is central to our vision and by greening the city we are helping to make Bristol an even more attractive place to live, work, visit and study.”

The European Green Capital Award was set up in 2008 to reward cities that consistently achieve high environmental standards and are committed to further environmental improvement and sustainable development. The winning city must act as a role model and demonstrate a vision for the future that will inspire other cities to take similar action.

The Bristol Festival of Nature celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and ran from 15 to 16 June across Bristol’s Harbourside. There were a host of new exhibitors and activities to entertain the whole family. The festival is the UK’s largest free natural history event and saw over 25 major exhibitors host interactive activities including a pop-up butterfly garden, a filmmaking workshop with the BBC Natural History Unit and a Love Bugs exhibition from Bristol Zoo.

BIG Green Week is the UK’s festival of eco ideas, art and entertainment and returns to the centre of Bristol from 15 to 23 June. Over 40,000 visitors are expected across two weekends of free family entertainment and nine days of inspiring talks, workshops, art, music, poetry, comedy and films. The final day will mark the launch of the Mayor’s Make Sundays Special initiative when the heart of the old city will be freed of car traffic to make way for activities.