AIPH members report on growing number of Green City initiatives around the world

On Monday 1st April Green City reports from ten AIPH country members were presented at the AIPH Spring Meeting, held in Noordwijk the Netherlands. Twice a year, AIPH member organisa-tions are invited to present a report on the Green City activities and initiatives in their country. These reports reveal widespread-growing interest in ‘living green’ in urban environments as a response to increasing evidence of the benefits it brings to human health and wellbeing and the impacts of climate change.

The message from the horticultural industry now goes beyond simply promoting and selling plants, to also selling fresh air, cool streets, solutions to water management and feeling good. To do this, it is important to clearly describe how plants can deliver such benefits, and to demonstrate where and how this has been put into practice. The AIPH Green City reports give an overview of global progress.

Green City projects range from small community initiatives to high profile ambitious projects. The 202020 programme of Australia celebrates each individual contribution to collectively achieve a goal of 20% more green space by 2020. The grand new design for the extension of Changi airport in Singapore uses plants and themed gardens to provide passengers in transit with a restorative experience. Seasonal displays of living green run parallel with other sustainable initiatives such as reduced energy use and recycling.

The urban forest and ambitious tree planting projects continue to inspire, particularly in densely populated cities. Japan is holding an international symposium on urban forests, with high-powered speakers in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka in May 2019. In China, the Forest City programme will plant millions of trees to tackle the problem of air pollution. This ambitious project hopes to serve as an example of how to build sustainable cities that provide clean air and also support biodiversity.

Green City developments have an important role to play in celebrating cultural connections that are essential to providing a sense of place. The Hellenic Garden in Amaroussion, Greece, displays native plants, and showcases how they can be used in designed landscapes. The garden, which is part of a European Commission LIFE project, highlights the function of Hellenic Flora in delivering a self-sufficient, sustainable garden, that uses natural materials and incorporates water-wise principles, some elements of which were displayed in the Hellenic Garden at Taipei Flora Expo 2010.

The Euroflora Expo 2018 in Genoa, supported by ANVE, illustrated the Green City principles in display gardens of Mediterranean plants. Meeting broader concepts of environmental sustainability, it was only possible to arrive at the expo by public transport, with train being the easiest and preferred option.

Furthering the global AIPH Green City imperative requires strategies that focus on influencing the influencers. One of the goals of the Green Agenda programme in the Netherlands, a collaborative effort involving Royal FloraHolland, is to improve the awareness of the positive effects of greenery in different urban environments through publication of concise information leaflets that present the science behind these benefits and their practical application. Informed decision makers have more confidence to implement change. In Canada, regular meetings are held between horticultural producers and government officials to negotiate changes in policy that increase living green in cities. Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, CNLA, held a summit with their members to identify key priority messages to take to ministers. In 2018 these priorities were: environment and climate change; health, heritage, public services, and infrastructure and communities.

The Green City report from France presented a number of public relations events and tools to bring attention to Green City innovations and develop-ments. In the UK, collaboration with the Town and Country Planners Association, TCPA, enabled the Horticultural Trades Association to present a balanced perspective to parliament at an event planned to raise awareness about the benefits of green infrastructure and the positive impact it can have with regard to health and wellbeing.

The next AIPH Green City reports will be presented at the AIPH Green City Conference taking place in September as part of the AIPH Annual Congress in Beijing, China.

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