Whoever stops, falls behind

JAN DIETER BRUNS

“At the time of writing, the number of coronavirus infections worldwide is nearing eight million and global deaths 1.1 million.

With partial lockdowns and travel restrictions still in place, outdoor recreation close to home is becoming increasingly popular. Well-maintained parks, biodiverse gardens and tree-lined streets are crucial to cities and the well-being of their residents.

Politicians across Europe have come to understand that funding for green spaces is needed to ensure the quantity, quality, and accessibility of the cities’ green lungs continues.

Before the pandemic, the European Commission acknowledged the health benefits of immersing ourselves in green space by supporting the Green Cities for a Sustainable Europe platform, a joint initiative of the European Nurserystock Association (ENA) and its member trade associations across Europe. The industry is currently taking decisive action to extend this vital programme for another three years. The number of participating ENA associations will almost double to a total of 14.

The idyllic setting behind the front door also comes to the fore for individual garden owners. People are finding they can preserve their sanity in the sanctuary of their garden, and escape from the entire everyday world, which is partly disturbed and partly destroyed by Covid-19. This cocooning plays right into the hands of our industry. Is there another product out there more associated with so many positive emotions than our flowers and plants?

Of course we must now ensure the “going green” trend sustains. In the long-term, we must promote the benefits to our EU Member States and the European Commission that green infrastructure should be top of the political agenda, especially in the face of climate change. Europe needs billions of euros to be fit for climate change to increase the welfare impact of green for people in cities and in rural areas significantly.

In the many years in which I have been active as an entrepreneur, I have seen many crises. Covid-19 is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for our industry. Business processes are changing, and it is unsure whether the leading horticultural trade shows will retake their places. Alternatively, companies can choose to organise a so-called in-house exhibition with customers being personally invited by the companies to inspect and buy the products.

We also must take on electronic business initiatives. In a business sector where we evoke the most incredible emotions in the face of the natural environment, it is not easy to do this on a computer. Nevertheless, online business will grow massively in the coming months and years. We have already experienced this in 2020 in the initial, acute months of the crisis.

Crises, as we all know, offers opportunities. And this time is no exception. Whoever stops, falls behind. Those who seize new opportunities can turn challenges into opportunities and ultimately into profits. But we are also facing the great challenge of recovering billions of euros, spent as an aid in various countries, of the coming years. However, plants will continue to be a vital part of meeting the challenge of climate change, and so I am optimistic that our  sector will also survive this crisis well.”

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