International Green City news in November and December 2022 focussed on gatherings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Sharm el Sheik (COP27) and Montreal (COP15) where global leaders held dialogue and made commitments to address climate change and biodiversity.
Recognising that cities are at the forefront of climate change and that biodiversity has never been as relevant as an economic and political issue as it is today, political leaders were challenged to reach agreement for an all of society approach to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature.
As conversations align so that climate change and biodiversity are part of the same intention, attention turns to the contribution that plants make to the nature-filled future of cities and the planet. This highlights the ever-increasing importance of the ornamental horticulture industry in the success of turning national and local commitments to climate change and biodiversity into action.
By providing a wide variety of plants that can be grown in gardens, parks, and other green spaces the ornamental horticulture industry helps to increase the number of plants in urban areas. In addition to increasing the overall greenness of urban areas, ornamental plants provide a range of ecosystem services, such as air purification, water management, climate regulation, and habitat creation.
The AIPH member 2022 survey demonstrates that the industry provides information about the benefits of green spaces and the types of plants that are suitable for different urban environments. In this way the industry promotes the use of green space and encourages more people, companies and municipalities to incorporate plants into their gardens and landscapes.
Enhancing the aesthetic appeal of urban areas improves the quality of life of residents and increases property values. Ornamental plants improve this overall aesthetic appeal, making cities more attractive and pleasant places to live and work. The ornamental horticulture industry supports employment and economic benefits in urban areas. By creating jobs in the production, sale, and maintenance of ornamental plants, the industry contributes to the local economy and supports the development of resilient and liveable cities.
The annual Green City reports prepared for AIPH by its members provide examples of how the ornamental horticulture industry can work with city leaders to identify the best plants for different urban environments and provide guidance on how to care for and maintain these plants. This helps to ensure that green spaces in cities are successful and provide the desired ecosystem services. The ornamental horticulture industry also collaborates with city leaders on the design and implementation of green infrastructure projects, such as rain gardens or green roofs, to help manage stormwater runoff and improve air quality in urban areas.
Advocacy is an important part of the industry’s influence on city leaders, serving to raise awareness about the multiple benefits of greening, and the importance of incorporating plants into every aspect of city planning and design. Providing research and data on the benefits of green space and plants in cities helps to inform policy decisions and support the development of guidance and policies that promote greening in cities. The wide range of expertise in the ornamental horticulture sector enables the industry to participate in city planning and design processes, providing input and expertise on the role of plants in creating liveable and sustainable cities.
Creating and promoting an understanding of the position of the ornamental horticulture industry in supporting planning and implementation of city greening, enables AIPH to represent the industry at global meetings. This serves to ensure that policy decisions relating to the economy, health, education, and society take into account the needs and benefits of the ornamental horticulture industry.