“AIPH is interesting for me because it’s committed to using knowledge of the power of plants for a sustainable future,” David Stubbs told the AIPH Expo Conference on 19 October.
“For me, that’s all about urban greening, and comes back to my early passion around biodiversity and creating good viable spaces for people’s health and well-being; it’s good for climate action and it’s a fantastic platform for spreading awareness.”
Early in his career, Stubbs was involved in a survey of all green spaces in London, through which he discovered that golf courses take up 3 per cent of the Greater London area. This led to more work in the sports sector, including his role as Director of Sustainability at the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Since then, Stubbs has worked in the field of major event sustainability for rights holders including the IOC, FIFA, F1 and World Economic Forum – and earlier this year he started working with AIPH - the global approving body for International Horticultural Expos - to develop their sustainability strategy.
Together they identified five policy themes where AIPH can make most difference, starting with climate action. Stubbs cited the recent IPCC reports tracking progress on meeting the Paris accord target of global warming of no more than 1.5 degrees.
“We are not on track to meet that and you can see the evidence all over the world through floods, droughts, forest fires and sea level rises – there are so many impacts of climate change that are happening all over. If through using plants and green spaces we can support climate adaptation and resilience programmes in urban environments, that will be a really important thing to do.
Linked to climate action is the biodiversity agenda, which promotes nature in cities and sustainable horticultural practices worldwide.
“Beyond that let’s look at sourcing and resource management. Think of all the materials that become waste or other forms of pollution, how we can become more efficient and create better policies towards the sourcing, use, disposing and reuse of these materials – it’s a circular economy approach.
“There’s also an important people dimension about equity and inclusion, making sure these green spaces are accessible by all. It’s also about upholding fair and equitable practices across the value chain, supporting diversity and human rights within the industry.
“Finally there’s education and awareness raising. Through green spaces, horticultural shows and green city initiatives we can inform people and inspire them about the role of plants and how it all links to biodiversity, climate action and the other themes.”
These policy themes will be implemented across a number of action areas. These include advancing sustainable practices in expos, making sure they are used to promote biodiversity and create legacies. Other action areas include providing help in the form of best practice guidance and trying to get urban areas more environmentally friendly through green city initiatives.
Through this work, the AIPH strategy will substantially help towards a number of the UN sustainable development goals.
“Having a programme which can support the realisation of some of these goals is a very exciting opportunity for the association.
“AIPH has the ambition for World Horticultural Expos to be recognised as among the world’s most sustainable major events. This is a great opportunity, when you think about how these sites can promote biodiversity conservation and create green legacies. It’s about helping these cities to improve their adaptation and resilience to climate change.
“We must also recognise that putting on these events can create a lot of impacts – waste, construction impacts, congestion – unless they are planned and delivered properly you don’t necessarily realise these benefits. The key to this strategy we are developing is to direct organisers to a much more sustainable approach.”
Stubbs cited the example of the London Olympic Park, which resulted in the cleaning up of a polluted river and industrial land, the use of renewable energy, sustainable materials, nature-friendly features such as streetlights that face away from the river to avoid disturbing bats – and an accessible parkland was created for people to visit and enjoy.
Biodiversity-enhancing features of the park include reedbeds, woodlands and microhabitats. It also serves as a flood alleviation site, absorbing large quantities of water to prevent flooding downstream.
“Plant Expos are like Olympic Parks – the horticultural elements were a big part of the Games,” Stubbs said.
Watch the full presentation here
AIPH is the global approving body for International Horticultural Expos. To find out more, please visit https://aiph.org/expos/