IBC, China

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Last week I attended the XIX International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen, China. With ca. 7000 participants this was by far the largest conference I have ever been to. The organisation was incredible – the whole city (with ca. 16 million people!) was transformed into a ‘save our green planet’ stage to feature the conference, there was a daily newspaper with updates, >1000 talks and the complete Chinese army seemed to be present for security.


The venue

My phone informed me that the outside climate felt like 49 degrees, although temperatures ranged from (just) 32 to 37 degrees. This was another highlight of the trip: on all my fieldwork trips to the tropics I have never felt so hot (and humid especially) as in Shenzhen. Fortunately there was no good reason to be outside – inside is where the magic happened: talks ranging from genomics to plants and people to taxonomy and speciation. I gave two talks: one on speciation in tropical palms (work carried out at the University of Amsterdam), and one on the evolution of fruit functional traits in the Annonaceae family, and how these traits may have affected dispersal (work carried out at the Université Paris-Sud).

It was a great meeting, nice to catch up with old friends from all over the world, to taste some of the Chinese culture and to see how China commits to saving our planet, because, as emphasised in several of the talks: we need plants, and plants need us. To save our planet we need to educate the future generations, as well as convince the non-scientific community about the excitement of plants, their incredible diversity and function for humanity.

My trip in China hasn’t finished yet, as I am currently in Xishuangbanna tropical botanical garden in Yunnan. More on that in my next post…





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