The Path to Sustainability - British Florist Association

The Path to Sustainability

The AIPH International Conference: The Path to Sustainability in Ornamental Horticulture boasted an international line-up of 27 industry expert panellists from around the world. Each shared their unique insights on sustainability and provided actionable ways to address climate change practices.

The  path to sustainability

“It is vital that impactful sustainability measures are adopted as the norm across the industry,” says Dr David Bek, “There is no more time to waste.”

Dr Bek is a Reader in Sustainable Economies based at the Research Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University (UK), where he co-leads the Sustainable Production and Consumption Cluster. BFA Chairman Brian Wills-Pope was one of the very first floriusts to be included on this research.

Dr David Bek was the keynote speaker for ‘The Path to Sustainability in Ornamental Horticulture’ Virtual Conference on 30th September, sponsored by Royal FloraHolland and PERA and organised by The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) in partnership with GreenTech Live & OnlineFloriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) and FloraCulture International (FCI).

“Noise around sustainability in horticulture has grown exponentially in the last five years,” Dr Bek adds, “with ‘green’ products and branding exploding within the horticultural marketplace. Now measurable and transparent actions are needed across the industry to make sure that initiatives are truly sustainable and not greenwash.”

Dr Bek was joined by speakers from around the world, who evaluated what the industry is doing to become more sustainable, how we can measure progress and what the future holds.

You can read the whole document. CLICK HERE.

The Sustainable Cut-Flowers Project

Dr. David Bek discusses sustainability challenges in the horticultural sector in the latest issue of ‘Floraculture International’ magazine. He argues that the horticulture industry needs to cut emissions to reach the UN’s 1.5-degree pathway rather than work out how to live with it.

To read the article CLICK HERE

Our thanks to Dr David Bek and Coventry University for giving permission to upload the document.

The recordings of the AIPH International Conference: the path to Sustainability in Ornamental Horticulture can be viewed online on-demand at

New sustainability resources for florists was launched at Fleurex 2019.

The AIPH International Conference: The Path to Sustainability in Ornamental Horticulture

Text by Dr Jill Timms & Dr David Bek

Are you confused by the many certifications that flowers can come with? Are you unsure what sustainability is, what it might have to do with your flowers or are you working hard to be more sustainable and need ideas? Do you have an answer if a customer asks which are your most ethical flowers? If you find these questions difficult, you are certainly not alone.

Sustainability research to benefit you

For the last decade we have been researching flower supply chains, the ethics around these and the development of certification schemes. Some of you might have heard us discuss our work at previous BFA Vision events or have read about our project in here or have even been interviewed by us. One of the clearest findings of our ongoing Global Cut Flower Supply Chain Project is that sustainability is increasingly important to the flower industry, but that there is confusion over the key priorities and, crucially, information about standards is often lost in the supply chain.

This can mean florists like yourself miss out on potential opportunities to inform your customers of the ethical credentials of your blooms and to make this a selling point. Indeed, we have found that even wholesalers can misunderstand or be unaware of the flower certifications that give assurances about the environmental and/or social standards that flowers are grown to, so it is no wonder that consumers are confused too.

We are working hard to address certification confusion

We want florists to have simple tools to help them make informed buying decisions and to benefit from promoting sustainable flowers. This in turn helps to spread awareness of its important and increased demand will have a positive impact on driving even better standards for workers and the environment.

There are three ways we are trying to achieve this:

1. Education – We are working with education bodies to ensure sustainability becomes a core topic in future floristry training and are helping to design specialist curriculum and workshops for existing florists

2. Website – We are currently developing a website for the project which will: give updates and insights into our findings; provide links to our publications; explain how to get involved; and have a resource and advice area for ways different stakeholders can play a part in promoting a more sustainable industry. Watch this space for details once it is done

3. Florist’s Sustainability Pack – At Fleurex 2019 we were very excited to be launching the first stage of our resource pack for florists. Based on our research with florists to date and working in conjunction with the BFA and a pilot group of engaged florists (thank you!), we have developed a booklet of basic information to help florists understand the key ethical and environmental issues, and what they can do to combat these. A brief explanation of the main flower certifications is included and a chart to help compare these. It is designed to be a handy everyday resource that can be pinned to a notice board or used in discussions with customers. In future phases we hope to expand the pack.

Dr Jill Timms is Assistant Professor and Dr David Bek is Reader in Sustainable Economics at the Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University. Their project was one of six finalists for the 2019 Green Gown Sustainability Award for ‘Research with Impact’ and the team were surprised and pleased to receive a Highly Commended Award.

If you would like to know more, have suggestions or questions, you can contact the team via or follow them at @JillLTimms and @DaveDBRS.

Photo by mali maeder & Photo by Rachel Claire 

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