From Plant Press, Vol. 20, No. 4, October 2017.
Over 7,000 botanists from 77 countries gathered in Shenzhen, China during the last week of July to participate in the XIX International Botanical Congress. A pivotal outcome of the conference was the release of the Shenzhen Declaration on Plant Sciences. Written by a committee of 14 botanists, including W. John Kress and Jun Wen from the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany, the Declaration calls for botanists to focus their work in ways to help society mitigate the detrimental impacts of human activities on plants and habitats with a goal of sustainability for future generations. It was recently published in the Journal of Systematics and Evolution and PhytoKeys.
The Declaration is structured around seven priorities that are far-reaching and broad in their scope: urging botanists to frame their studies in the context of a changing world; increasing the amount of funding to achieve global sustainability; boosting international collaboration across disciplines; developing new technologies; identifying all plant species before they go extinct; safeguarding traditional botanical knowledge; and heightening greater public engagement.
With the accelerating rate of change our planet and our societies are experiencing, the intent of the Declaration is a clear commitment to strategic action. Plants are not optional, and are vital to a functioning ecosystem. By framing all botanical disciplines (taxonomy, development, evolution, ecology, physiology, and genetics) in the context of our rapidly changing globe, botanists can contribute to the formation of a sustainable and healthy world.