The National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin hosted the 1st international conference of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation over four days in October 2005. It was the largest international meeting ever held at the National Botanic Gardens and included 120 participants from 37 countries worldwide.

The aim of the meeting was to review progress on the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, adopted by 188 countries in 2002, through the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

The conference was formally opened by Mr Tom Parlon T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works. The opening was also addressed by Stella Simiyu, representative of the Executive Secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, Sara Oldfield, Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International and Dr Peter Wyse Jackson, Director of the National Botanic Gardens.

A programme of 29 keynote addresses and other papers was presented during the meeting, as well as nine discussion workshops. Notable speakers included Dr Cristian Samper, Director of the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. and Sue Minter, Director of Horticulture, Eden Project, Cornwall, U.K. and senior scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the World Agroforestry Centre and the World Conservation Union.

A key focus of the meeting was providing guidance to countries on the development and implementation of National Plant Conservation Strategies, particularly in the developing world. Three papers were delivered by staff of the National Botanic Gardens:

Dr Matthew Jebb on Ireland’s developing national plant conservation strategy (see here..);
Dr Peter Wyse Jackson on a background to the development of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and on the partnership itself, and
Brendan Sayers, on cooperative programmes between Belize and the National Botanic Gardens.
A pre-conference tour to OPW Heritage properties was held and delegates visited the Phoenix Park, Farmleigh House and Áras an Uachtaráin, as well as the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Bull Island.
During the meeting, poster paper sessions were held in the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens Library. Most delegates also participated in guided tours of the National Botanic Gardens and its facilities. An extremely successful conference dinner was held in Dublin Castle, sponsored by the Office of Public Works. During the closing session of the conference, the delegates expressed their very great appreciation for the support and hospitality of the Office of Public Works and National Botanic Gardens. Local arrangements were managed extremely efficiently by a staff committee and team from the National Botanic Gardens. Additional sponsorship was provided by Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the HSBC Investing in Nature initiative, primarily to support the travel and accommodation costs for delegates from developing countries.

At the concluding session of the conference, new guidelines for the operation of the Partnership were adopted, including a resolution and plans for the expansion of its membership to add several hundred more botanical, conservation and environmental organizations worldwide. During the concluding session, Dr Peter Wyse Jackson was elected as Chairman of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation for a term of three years until the next conference is held in 2008.