2nd World Botanic Gardens Congress - A Resounding Success!
Following a week of stimulating speeches, thought provoking discussions, stunning views, bright sunshine and great company - what more can be said - The 2nd World Botanic Gardens Congress was a congress to remember.
Now it's all over, it is good to take time to sit back, draw breath and reflect on the highs and lows of the Congress. Without doubt, the opportunity to meet friends new and old, renew acquaintances, and put faces to previously anonymous email contacts had to be the greatest highlight of the congress. With around 500 delegates from 71 countries, the congress really did constitute a who's who of the botanic garden world. The only problem was finding enough time to talk to everyone!
I am sure everyone will remember the wonderful views from the top of the Barcelona Botanic Gardens - even if it was a bit of a climb to get there. And the gardens themselves, with bright splashes of colour contrasting the clean straight lines of the paths.
The scientific programme was wide ranging, stimulating and thought provoking. Links between plant conservation and sustainable development were frequently highlighted, with botanic gardens being challenged with questions such as "Are you for poverty relief or wildlife conservation". There were suggestions that botanic gardens should adopt an ecosystem approach to plant conservation, thus focussing efforts at the local level. The importance of diverse diets, based on a wide range of plant diversity, in combating the "hidden hunger" of malnutrition-related diseases was also emphasised. But the word heard above all else was "education". Mentioned continuously in plenary and workshop sessions alike, education and raising awareness are recognised as key to ensuring the conservation of biodiversity for the future and in this regard, botanic gardens have a pivotal role to play. The launch of BGCI's "plant wrap" poster campaign on Day 3 of the congress was an appropriate, timely and amusing response to the call for greater efforts in public awareness.
At the heart of the congress was the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, and the congress provided an opportunity for botanic gardens to develop a set of draft targets for implementing the Agenda. By achieving International Agenda targets, botanic gardens will be making a direct contribution to the achievement of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The draft targets are a clear output of the Congress, and over the coming months these will be reviewed further, refined and finalised. They are available on the BGCI congress website - please take time to review them and provide your comments and suggestions.
An interesting idea raised during the congress was the suggestion to establish an International Day for Botanic Gardens through UNESCO. Introduced by the Ibero-Macaronesian Association of Botanic Gardens (Spanish section), the idea was welcomed by the congress. Also released at the congress by the Spanish section of the Ibero-Macarconesian Association was a new document "Botanic Gardens: an increasing value".
We hope that those who attended the congress left with new ideas and motivation, having made new friends and contacts. For those who did not attend - you can still benefit from the information presented at the congress by looking at the abstracts - a full set is available on the website. Our sincere thanks go to the organisers - local and international, to the speakers and moderators, the hosts and hostesses, the translators and indeed to the whole host of people working behind the scenes to ensure the smooth and efficient running of an excellent congress.
Until next time - hasta pronto!