‘Greener cities matter to our children and to every generation that will follow’

(Left) Director of Outreach in the United Nations Department of Global Communications,Mr Maher Nasser and (right) AIPH Green City Chair Mr Bill Hardy.

These were the sage words of AIPH Secretary General Tim Briercliffe at The International Association for Horticultural Producers (AIPH) Green City Conference on 8 March. The in-person and live streaming event featured high profile speakers presenting the activities and programmes that cities and countries are making to achieve the UN SDGs and other global initiatives (such as the Paris Agreement), with a specific focus on the contribution that ‘living green’ makes to meeting the stated objectives.

Bringing nature into the built environment and the local policies and strategies that activate these global agendas was the focus of the 2022 AIPH Green City Conference on 8 March.
Held in the Media Centre of Expo 2020 Dubai, the event brought together a worldwide audience of professionals, organisations, city councils and government administrations to hear how international experts are meeting the ‘living green’ challenge.

As the world’s champion for the power of plants, The International Association of Horticultural Producers, AIPH, recognises the essential role that plants play in creating resilient cities and is proud to inspire people into positive action. AIPH Green City Chair Mr Bill Hardy opened the conference to introduce the AIPH Green City programme, stating how the activities reflect the AIPH vision to lead global thinking for collective impact.

Worst age for nature

Mr Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach in the United Nations Department of Global Communications, spoke with encouragement about AIPH. He says that the United Nations sees great value in any gathering that brings the world together, especially events that improve lives and promote sustainable living.

“People ask me ‘why are you confident that we will achieve the SDGs?’ It’s not an issue of confidence, it’s an issue of determination,” says Mr Nasser as he began the meeting presenting an urgency of thinking and stating that we all need to explore ways to incorporate nature-based principles. This time is the worst age for nature, said Mr Nasser, and everything is at stake if humanity doesn’t shift its thinking towards a liveable and sustainable future.

Mr Nasser’s position at the UN leads to engagement with civil society, academia, and the creative community worldwide. His position gives him a broader picture of humanity’s devastating impact on the planet’s biodiversity as our population increases and cities expand. “Cities need to incorporate nature as part of dedicated urban conservation efforts, and as part of their own sustainability and resilience.”

(Left) Mr Alan White, (middle) Mr Larry Ng, and (right) Mr Pablo Arturo López Guijosa.

Singapore holds the best example of a city in nature

Singapore as a city and a nation is recognised worldwide for putting this into action. Mr Larry Ng is the Commissioner General, Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai UAE, and Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. The Minister for National Development also appoints him as the Registrar of the Board of Architects in Singapore.

In five decades, Mr Ng spoke about how Singapore transformed its city spaces from what was once branded ’a garden city’ to a ‘city in the garden’ and now aims to be known as a ‘city in nature’. He explained that it’s not just the vision needed to create necessary green spaces but the deliberate planning and good governance to persevere with a plan that needs constant reviewing, updating, collaborating, and sharing, especially with the developers.

Science holds the truth to biodiversity

The bold and innovative local action theme continued with Mr Pablo Arturo López Guijosa presenting an analysis of the overlaps and gaps between local city action and global, national agendas. These conclusions show the importance of engaging local governments and city leaders in greening initiatives to reach global sustainability and climate agendas.

Stimulating Greener Cities with International Horticultural Expos

AIPH Secretary General Tim Briercliffe outlined the work of AIPH in demonstrating how the Horticultural Expos facilitate ambitious city leaders to advance their greening initiatives and the AIPH World Green City Awards that showcase their success.

He passionately stated: “At AIPH, our heart desires to make people’s lives better through plants. We are the world’s champion for the power of plants. So we want to make cities greener because we believe that it is better for the environment, better for our climate, better for the future of our world, better for the people that live in cities, and so greener cities matter.

“They matter to us because living green matters to our children and every generation that follows. All of the information we hear, whether it’s from the United Nations, from governments, from all kinds of bodies, points to the same fact that our world has to tackle the challenges we are facing, the environmental problems facing our world.

“We have to live in this world and live in cities. We may not be able through our industry alone to reverse the process of climate change, but what we can do is make it possible to live in a changing climate world. Making cities greener means that lives can be healthier and more enjoyable in a changing world, and we see our role fitting very firmly in this area.

“Now our other role of approving international horticultural exhibitions gives us the opportunity to create showcases and examples of what a green city can be what it needs to be and to inspire people in their individual lives to inspire cities and businesses and organisations around the globe to make the difference that is why they matter.”

Connecting the horticultural industry with green living thinking

The final speaker at the conference, Mr Alan White, works in the horticultural industry and is an active campaigner for Green Cities. He represents an AIPH member association, the Canadian Nursery and Landscape Associations. He is their Executive Committee and Chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Committee. He described activities that connect plants and people to inspire and energise the involvement of individuals in climate agendas.

Garden of civilisations

To close the meeting, the audience heard from Mayor Lüftüs Savaş about the ambitions of Hatay, Türkiye, to create a greener city for its residents through the AIPH Approved (B Category) Expo 2021 Hatay, which opens on 1 April 2022. The Expo has a “Garden of Civilisations” theme and will stimulate city greening and sustainable development in the Hatay region and the local economy.

Watch the conference on-demand here https://aiph.org/event/aiph-green-city-conference/

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