Many cities are taking action to improve their health and sustainability. This was clear to delegates attending the AIPH International Green City Conference in Melbourne, Australia on 22nd March. The conference, organised by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and Nursery Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) was held on the grounds of Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS) with Hort Innovation as the Principal R&D Partner. Delegates from around the world heard about ground-breaking initiatives and research to improve the health and sustainability of cities using plants.
The conference included speakers from Korea and Singapore as well as researchers and practitioners in the Melbourne area. Ian Shears, Manager of Urban Sustainability for Melbourne City Council gave many clear examples of Green City in action with real-life initiatives that are reducing city temperatures and strengthening the bond between citizens and their green environment. Trees are even given an email address and people can write directly to a tree – and get a reply! They expect to reduce Melbourne temperatures by 4 degrees centigrade as a result of greening policy. It was clear to delegates why Melbourne has seven times been voted the world’s most liveable city.
Ben Peacock from The Republic of Everyone, explained the Vision 202020 campaign that he has managed with industry funding. This innovative campaign has the goal of increasing green space in urban areas by 20% by 2020 and other countries can learn from the tactics used to bring attention to how plants make life better.
The conference included a strong emphasis on the evidence for how greening improves health. Dr. Xiaoqi Feng and Dr. Thomas Astell-Burt from Wollongong University gave the sound scientific case for how using green spaces genuinely improves health and Dr. Melanie Davern showed how this can be implemented through policy, something supported by Neil McCarthy, CEO of World Urban Parks who also spoke.
Practical examples of the positive impact of city greening were demonstrated by Prof. Tony Wong, CEO of CRC for Water Sensitive Cities. He highlighted how cities should build functional services in a way that supplements and supports the function of the natural environment. Cities should be providing ecosystem services and an integrated approach can achieve this as he showed with many examples, including the use of wetlands in city centres.
Prof. Sung-Kyun Kim of Seoul National University detailed how he had transformed an old railway line through Seoul into a green space that connected the city together at the same time as encompassing history, culture, shopping, nature, art and relaxation in a way that made green space a valuable community asset. Matthew Dillon, President of Green Roofs Australia, showed good and bad examples of green roofs and how this technology is developing fast. Andy Kwek, Senior Director (Conservatory Operations and Engineering) at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore highlighted the cutting edge technology used in the gardens to use natural means to deliver essential services.
Chair of the AIPH Green City Committee, Ms. Karen Tambayong, commented “Through this conference we have been treated to the knowledge and experience of those who know the benefits of city greening better than anyone. There can be no debate any more about whether a Green City matters, only how to do it best. Through this conference we have learnt from the best and I hope that cities all over the world will learn from this.”
CEO of NGIA, Peter Vaughan commented “We were delighted, along with our partners Hort Innovation, to have hosted this conference in Melbourne. It is clear that Australia is a rich source of Green City knowledge and practice and sharing initiatives at an international level like this will help us improve cities all over the world.”