3,500 of the world’s leading experts in horticultural science have taken over the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre this week for the World Olympics of Horticulture – the 29th International Horticultural Congress (IHC 2014).
Experts from 100 countries have gathered in Brisbane to talk all things horticultural, everything from fruit and vegetables to health and an improved environment.
The five day conference will deliver an $11 million boost to the Brisbane economy in addition to a wealth of science, research and knowledge about the vast field of horticultural science. As well as the main event, 17 additional international meetings will be held at the Centre in conjunction with the Congress.
IHC 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the very first International Horticultural Congress held in Brussels in 1864 and is only the second time the event has taken place in the Southern Hemisphere.
More than 40 symposia covers an extensive range of topics on all branches of horticulture under the theme “Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes” with a diverse program – from the impact of vegetables as the first line of defence against certain diseases to the fact that eating makes the largest personal impact on the planet and with every meal served costing the planet 10 kilos of soil, 800 litres of fresh water and 1.3 litres of diesel fuel.
In addition to the major Opening Session, there are four plenary sessions featuring eminent international speakers. Workshops and business meetings, technical field trips and post congress tours are all included in the formal science program.
Jill Stanley, the Congress Vice-President in charge of the scientific program, said that the core activities of the Congress are the exchange of scientific knowledge and the opportunity for networking with fellow researchers. “Over 1350 orals and 1150 posters were accepted for presentation and we have been delighted with the high standard of the presentations so far.”
According to organisers, a particular highlight for the IHC attendees is the opportunity to experience the local cuisine and tastes of Australia which have been incorporated into the overall Congress experience. BCEC Executive Chef, Martin Latter and his team have created a menu showcasing Queensland’s local produce including seafood from the Mooloolaba and Hervey Bay coastal areas and fresh fruit and vegetables from Queensland’s Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley.
This event has a particular significance for BCEC’s General Manager Bob O’Keeffe and members of the International Team who first visited Brussels in 1998 for our initial bid for the Congress. The event was eventually confirmed for Brisbane and BCEC in 2006, and now – 16 years after that initial contact – the Centre is hosting the event, a clear indication of the long lead times and complex work involved in bringing such major international meetings to Brisbane.
Bob O’Keeffe, who attended the Congress opening session, said it was particularly satisfying to finally welcome the event and its thousands of delegates to Brisbane. “Hosting international meetings of this calibre and scale are an acknowledgement of the unique appeal of Brisbane and the world class infrastructure and facilities of the Centre, in what is a very competitive international environment.
“This is one of the biggest events on the calendar for BCEC this year and is part of a very strong business events agenda leading up to the G20 Leaders Summit which the Centre will host in November,” he said.