International Green City Conference

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Over 100 delegates from around the world, gathered in Vancouver for the 2016 International Green City Conference and Tours.  This was the first time that representatives from the international ornamental horticulture value chain met together face-to-face.  The major international groups represented were the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA), and the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA).  Some of the Canadian groups were the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) – just to name a few.  The conference took place over a week, including renowned speakers, networking events, tours and the Canadian Landscape Summit.

Besides being a beautiful destination, Vancouver was chosen to host this international conference because it is on track to becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.  The Green City Conference comes out of AIPH, which aims to create international dialogue between its members on green city developments.  The conference is held around the world each year to give delegates the chance to see living examples of urban green environments.  CNLA stepped up to host the conference in part to highlight the significant role that its members play in building green cities.

Both local and international speakers discussed the importance of building healthy cities and creating dialogue between decision makers across all sectors to make this happen.  AIPH Green City Committee Chair, Karen Tambayong, presented on the of horticultural exhibitions in developing green cities.  The strategy includes: branding the city, gaining political recognition, developing green infrastructure, elevating property value, strengthening international relationships and the relationships between the government and community.  Daniel Roehr, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at UBC talked about alternative approaches to managing stormwater threats in cities.  Paul Ronan of the Ontario Parks Association discussed how to measure and quantify our living green infrastructure assets.  His presentation started by explaining what our industry means by ‘green infrastructure’, with a picture of solar panels on a roof versus a green roof.  Ronan also discussed the importance of considering the ‘cost-benefit’ matrix when planning green infrastructure projects.

After the formal conference, tour guides took delegates into the city to see living green infrastructure in action.  Stops included green wall and roof installations, a rehabilitated brownfield site, botanical gardens and LEED certified sites.  Learning from a city that is making green work both economically and socially was an important part of the event, as organizers hoped to inspire delegates to bring ideas back to their own cities.  Pictures of the tour stops can be viewed at the event Facebook page (

CNLA, a national body of landscape contractors, nursery growers and garden retailers, chose to host the International Green City conference to take part in this important dialogue.  Canada is seeing a revival in the “green” movement, where both the public and the professionals are interested in caring for the planet through their landscapes.  Extreme weather events are spurring people to seek innovative solutions to drought, urban heat islands, and flooding, just to name a few.  This in turn creates more opportunities for our sector to get involved, including interior plantscaping, green roof and wall installations, water conservation and urban planning.  With the increase in technology and information transfer, it seems like anything is possible.  As Karen Tambayong, Chair of the AIPH Green City Committee, reminded delegates, “working with green is a way to respond to the true needs of people.”

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