29th International Horticultural Congress

  • The Brisbane congress marked the 150th anniversary of the International Society for Horticultural Science
  • Only the second time that the IHC has been held in the southern hemisphere
  • Delegates from more than 91 different countries
  • Tailor-made “Brisbane Welcomes the World” training provided for congress volunteers
  • More than AUD$11 million economic benefit to Brisbane
  • Griffith University Professor appointed new IHS President during congress
Attendance 3275 delegates
Host City Brisbane, Australia
Venue Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Date 2014 - August

Photo Credit: XXIXth International Horticulture Congress 2014; ICMS Australasia

This five day congress was jointly hosted by the Australian Society of Horticultural Science, the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science.

As the world’s premier horticulture event, the IHC is held every four years at various cities around the world. The 2014 congress theme was ‘Horticulture - Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes’, with tropical horticulture given special attention as it was the first congress to be held in a tropical zone. The rising importance of horticulture in Asian countries in general, and in China in particular, was also a feature of the overall program.

The 3275 registrations included delegates, sponsors and exhibitors from more than 91 countries, representing all key regions of the globe. They included the world’s leading horticulturists, horticultural scientists, resource managers, conservationists, economists, educators, landscape architects, planners, and students.

The 2014 event marked one hundred and fifty years since the first International Horticulture Congress was held in Brussels in 1864. It was only the second time that the IHC has been held in the southern hemisphere.

IHC 2014 was unusual in that a number of distinct ISHS symposia, which are normally held every three to four years, chose to meet under the umbrella of the IHC.   The Congress also incorporated the World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (WOCMAP V).

Nine official congress hotels, selected for their proximity to the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, accommodated the congress delegates. It was estimated that the conference brought an economic benefit of more than AUD$11 million to Brisbane

An especially significant congress outcome for Brisbane occurred when the International Society for Horticultural Sciences announced its new board for 2014-2015, with Brisbane-based Griffith University Professor Rod Drew as the new International President.  Professor Drew was Co-President of the IHC 2014 organizing committee.

Brisbane won the right to host the congress due to the persistence, enthusiasm and commitment of the host organizations and the successful bid which was prepared by the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC), in partnership with the Brisbane Convention Bureau. This bid presented Brisbane’s credentials as Australia’s New World City, along with its capacity and capability to host the IHC 2014.

With horticulture being the third-largest agricultural sector in Australia, it was very relevant that this congress come to Brisbane as it offers the quintessential Australian experience.  Easy access, a compact and walkable CBD, nearby beaches, rainforests and leisure activity options, excellent dining and cultural experiences, all complemented by a genuinely warm welcome for visitors.

The congress venue, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC),is located in the heart of Brisbane in a unique urban and cultural precinct known as South Bank, which sits in lush, subtropical riverfront parkland. Two of the city’s significant horticultural parks, the City Botanic Gardens and the Roma Street Parklands, are also just a short walk from the Convention Centre. The congress logo included Australia’s national floral symbol, the wattle flower, which was styled into the shape of the Southern Cross to tie in Australia and New Zealand as co-hosts. Spectacular garden and floral displays within the BCEC (especially in the foyer, exhibition hall and great hall) emphasised the overall horticultural science theme of the event.

Aspart of Brisbane Marketing, the Brisbane Convention Bureau is responsible for promoting the city nationally and internationally as a Business Events destination. In association with its member partners, the Brisbane Convention Bureau plays a key role in securing events for Brisbane and also provides meeting planners and event organisers with free advice, support and a wide range of services.

One of the many factors which helped Brisbane win the congress was the significant financial support which came from the city to assist with the bid and also the pre-event promotion. Funds were supplied by the Brisbane Convention Bureau and also came from the Brisbane City Conference and Accommodation Bid Fund, which receives contributions from the Brisbane Convention Bureau, the BCEC, the hotel sector and other key convention partners.

The Convention Bureau also provided a suite of in-kind support for the congress which included extensive digital ‘Welcome’ signage at the airport, as well as delegates being provided with an escorted walkover to the airport train, on which they also received discounted transfers to the city.

Pocket-sized fold out city maps were supplied for insertion into all delegate satchels and an onsite Brisbane Tourist Information desk was set up at the convention centre for the duration of the congress to ensure delegates could make the most of their stay in Brisbane.

The Brisbane Convention Bureau also assisted by providing a link on the congress website to a wide range of touring options for delegates and their accompanying partners. A Brisbane Marketing ‘Quick Reference Guide’ link also listed details of all essential visitor information.

Brisbane leads the way by welcoming the world
As part of an innovative Brisbane Marketing concept called ‘Brisbane Welcomes the World’, 11 IHC 2014 congress volunteers and three staff of the organiser, ICMS Australasia, received special training to enhance their knowledge of Brisbane, its culture and attractions. This initiative has been developed to make Brisbane an even more welcoming city for business events delegates.  The tailor-made training for IHC2014 covered the significant horticultural and botanical points of Brisbane and surrounds, in addition to the services, facilities and features in the immediate vicinity of the BCEC. This training ensured that delegates would be on the receiving end of the most accurate and relevant information, advice and attention during their stay in Brisbane.

The road to IHC 2014
The bidding process to win the IHC 2014 for Brisbane extended over an eight year period.

Representatives of the Brisbane Convention Bureau, BCEC and the combined Australian/New Zealand hosts travelled to the 2006 IHC event in Seoul to present Brisbane’s bid.  Competing against Istanbul, the Brisbane bid team members wore specially branded shirts to highlight their commitment and unified approach to winning the congress. They manned a promotional stand where they distributed information about Brisbane, handed out miniature clip-on toy koalas and also hosted a cocktail function featuring premium Australian wines. Similar promotional activity was also undertaken at the IHC 2010 held in Lisbon.

Rob Nelson, General Manager, Conventions & Business Events of the Brisbane Convention Bureau clarified why she believes the bid was successful. “We showed we were a united and committed host group and we subsequently won the vote.  It really was a great team effort between the city, the centre and the very passionate Australia and New Zealand team.”

In the lead up to IHC 2014 the organising committee and its ambassadors distributed over 10,000 miniature toy koalas worldwide, again with the assistance of the convention bureau, as part of the IHC2014 Koala Challenge.  Recipients were invited to take photos of ‘HortiKoala’, the IHC 2014 mascot, to be entered in a prize draw for a complimentary delegate registration and accommodation. This prize, valued at $AUD2,500, was sponsored by Brisbane’s Griffith University. Undertaken as a Facebook initiative which also fed into the congress website, this social media promotion attracted 890 followers, the majority of whom also attended the congress as delegates.

Brisbane plays a role in the congress program
The extensive program comprised 159 keynote presentations, 1209 oral papers, 1206 electronic poster presentations, eight very special plenary sessions by eminent international speakers, as well as workshops, training schools and tours.   The week was arranged around 43 symposia and up to 20 concurrent sessions were required daily.  The exhibition comprised 64 exhibition booths, as well as a central garden showcase and staging area.

At the conclusion of the congress, many of the plants from the IHC 2014 gardens project were proudly donated to local community groups, leaving a lasting and growing legacy from IHC 2014 for Brisbane.

The very successful technical tour programme showcased Brisbane’s relevance to the horticultural sector, with tours visiting:

  • Private and university turf industry research and production
  • Brisbane’s premier parks and gardens
  • Production nurseries
  • Organic gardens
  • Urban horticulture
  • Vegetable production in Brisbane’s Lockyer and Fassifern Valleys

Three official social functions were held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre – these were the Opening Ceremony & Welcome Reception, the IHC 2014 Congress Gala Dinner and the World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Dinner.

The Reception included a traditional Welcome to Country by the Nunukkal Juggera Indigenous Dancers, who also provided an entertaining introduction to Australia’s ancient Indigenous culture through song and dance. Additional performances by singers and dancers from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands ensured the three IHC 2014 host organisations were well represented. Animal handlers from Australia Zoo roamed amongst delegates, enabling them to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s unique fauna including wombats, native birds and reptiles.

On the final day of the congress, a display of live koalas was also set up at the BCEC by Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and it proved to be a highlight for international delegates.

An al fresco breakfast was also held in the aptly-named Spectacle Garden at the Roma Street Parklands in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the delegate hotels. More than 800 delegates enjoyed their breakfast surrounded by the Parkland’s vivid collections of flowers, water features and art works.

The Verdict
“It was our biggest congress ever, and you even have overtaken the Mediterranean region (normally considered the garden of horticulture). Brisbane is full of very fine and professional people, great to work with and the city of Brisbane very easy going. Since the last major IHC was held in the 1970s, the scientific horticultural community is again aware that there is great horticultural research and industry in Australia, and in Queensland in particular. Many thanks for a job well done and we will remember you.”
Jozef Van Assche, Executive Director 
International Society for Horticultural Science

“Thanks for the lovely meeting. I was very impressed with the organization and the opening ceremonies. Plenaries were superb. You did a great job. Congratulations to the ‘home’ team as well. Super job. I attend a lot of meetings, and you all did great. From the design on bags and its function after, to the entertainment, to the coffee breaks and of course the program and tours—well done.”
Dr Indra Harry, Delegate
International Horticulture Congress 2014

“As the professional conference organiser, ICMS Australasia wasthrilled to join such a highly motivated group of professionals. The Brisbane sun shone consistently for our overseas delegates, Brisbane Marketing was a source of continual support from the very early days to the terrific tourism training program that they conducted for all of the congress volunteers and for key members of our staff. The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre demonstrated why it’s one of the leading venues in the world with their customised meeting and exhibition space and very highly trained personnel.
Bryan Holliday, Managing Director
ICMS Australasia


Home » Case Studies » 29th International Horticultural Congress

Postal Address
PO Box 5094, Kingston, ACT 2604
Physical Address
Level 3, 24 Brisbane Avenue
Barton, ACT 2600
Telephone 1300 692222