Many horticultural entrepreneurs see sustainability issues as a threat. Environmentalists sometimes demand unreasonable things from growers, wholesalers and florists. But in the Netherlands the organisation Green Agenda is researching opportunities sustainability can bring to the floral industry. Jelle Hiemstra, a senior investigator at Wageningen University & Research and a steering committee member of Green Agenda, has the story.
“Green Agenda knows that a green environment (in- and outdoors) contributes to the health and well-being of people. There is more and more proof of this, a growing awareness of the benefits of greening. There is money to be made if this knowledge is shared with companies and they incorporate it into their business model. Knowledge, know-how, profits: that’s the story”.
“Green Agenda is an initiative of Royal FloraHolland, GreenCity (a Dutch growers’ organization of nursery stock and flower bulbs and gardeners and landscapers) and Wageningen University & Research in a public-private partnership (PPP). Whatever money the industry puts into research, the Dutch government doubles. This has enabled Green Agenda to start a research programme. For instance, to measure the effects of a green environment on the medical and psychological well-being of people. Or the effect of indoor greening on the quality of air in office buildings. Some of this research leads to concrete action. Like the Tergooi Hospital in Hilversum that created a chemo garden, a green environment for people being treated for cancer. It appears this space has a positive effect on their treatment”.
“Green Agenda focuses on the positive effects of greening (which of course also includes flowers and indoor greenery) on living, working, learning and recovery. It has published several fact sheets about the benefits of greening (which you can read in English at: www.royalfloraholland.com).
People are healthier in a green environment. They will pay fewer visits to their doctor with health problems like diabetes, coronary heart disease or depression. They perform better at work and school. A study shows that in the Netherlands alone, 400 million euros can be saved on healthcare costs by greening the environment. It also appears that people take better care of their personal living environment when it contains well-maintained greenery. Hospital patients that view a green world recover faster than patients that only view an urban environment. Additionally, greening has benefits including combatting urban heat island effect and worldwide climate change. Moreover, there are plants that can purify the air in your room, your office or your classroom”.
“Green Agenda benefits from a high level of interest. Society and government organisations are beginning to see the benefits of a greener world. And of course there are certain milestones like the Paris treatment. The challenge for the horticultural industry is to create concepts to redeem the promise of greening for a more sustainable society. The problem in horticulture is that the industry is too divided. Therefore, it is hard to find companies to invest in green innovations, thus adapting to the benefits that I know exist. Green Agenda is trying to create coalitions and provide information and knowledge for new concepts but it is necessary that companies participate in these projects.
The Green Agenda project finishes at the end of 2018 but we are convinced that we should continue past that deadline. We need more concrete concepts and real action from the green industry to actualize the benefits sustainability offers us.”