Authorized by the International Association of Botanical and Mycological Societies (IABMS), the International Botanical Congress(IBC) is the largest international conference in the fields related to plant sciences. It is held once every six years in locations that rotate among different countries. The IBC not only brings together scientists from many countries/regions, but also from the many disciplines that encompass the plant sciences, including mycology, ecology, agriculture, horticulture, systematics, etc. The congresses provide valuable opportunities for plant scientist from around the world to share new research findings and ideas, to establish international collaborations and to make new friendships and renew old ones.
The IBC also has the power to amend the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). The nomenclature section, held prior to the main congress, deals with proposals to alter the Code. Once the Code is in its final form, it becomes a guide for dealing with the scientific names of plants, fungi and a few other groups of organisms.History of the IBC
The first IBC was held in Brussels, Belgium, in 1864, and it was in conjunction with an international horticultural exhibit. The current numbering system for the IBC started in 1900, when it was held in France. In the beginning, the IBC was held once every five years, but was interrupted by both the first and second world wars. Since the XI International Botanical Congress in Seattle, USA, in 1969, the IBC has been held routinely once every six year.
During its first 60 years, the IBC was convened only in Europe. In 1926, the first IBC held outside of Europe was hosted in Ithaca, New York, USA. Since then, the hosting city of the IBC rotated among Europe, North America and Australia. It was not until 1993 that an IBC was held Asia, in Yokohama, Japan (IBC XV). The IBC has been convened in 16 cities in 12 developed countries. This year, the XIX IBC (IBC 2017) will be held in Shenzhen, China.
Figure: Executive committee and officers of the V IBC in Cambridge, UK (1930) (photo courtesy of Tom Wood; Chronica Botanica Vol. 2, P 35)
Figure: Plant scientists at the VI IBC in Amsterdam, Netherlands (1935) (Plant Physiology, Vol. 11, No. 11)
Figure: Opening ceremony of the XVI IBC in St. Louis, USA (1999)
Table: IBC I to XVIII: Date, location and number of attendees
The Chinese botanical research community and the IBC
Chinese botanists have always been actively involved with the IBC. In 1905, two Chinese botanists attended the II IBC held in Vienna. At the VI IBC, Professor Chen Huanyong was elected as the vice presidents of the nomenclature section and a member of the executive committee of the nomenclature section. Since the XIII IBC held in Sydney, Australia (1981), an increasing number of Chinese plant scientists have attended the IBC. The congresses provide a perfect platform for Chinese scientists to communicate and exchange ideas with botanists from all around the world.
Figure: Chinese botanists at the V IBC in Cambridge, UK (1930)
The XIX IBC in Shenzhen, China (2017)
The organization for the XIX IBC (IBC 2017) has been a collaboration between the Botanical Society of China (BSC) and the Shenzhen Municipal Government. The Congress will be held in the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, Shenzhen, China, during July 23-29, 2017. IBC 2017 has turned over a new leaf in the history of IBC with China being the first developing country to host the Congress. In addition to being a developing country, China is also a fast growing economy and one of the world's biodiversity hot spots. China's successful experience in building an innovation-oriented society while endeavoring to protect biodiversity will help to achieve a sustainable earth.
Milestones of the XIX IBC (IBC 2017)
Figure: Formal invitation for the XIX International Botanical Congress (IBC 2017)
August 28, 2008: A formal letter expressing interest in bidding to stage e IBC 2017 in Shenzhen, China, was sent by BSC to the Ad Hoc Committee of the IABMS.
August 30, 2009: An official invitation was sent to the IABMS. Positive feedback was received, along with comments and suggestions.
December 10, 2009: A revised version of the official invitation was sent and confirmed by the IABMS on Oct. 28, 2010.
July 23-30, 2011: A team of Chinese botanists and experts were sent to the XVIII IBC in Melbourne, Australia, during which matters concerning the XIX IBC were discussed by a special invitation committee and an agreement was reached on holding the XIX IBC in Shenzhen, China. The final decision was announced at the closing session of IBC 2011 on July 30, 2017.
October 21, 2014: An inaugural meeting was held in the Shenzhen Citizen Center to declare to the world that the organizing committee of the IBC 2017 came into effect on that day. Later, the advisory and scientific program committees were chosen with 43 and 47 international experts, respectively.
May 3, 2017: A meeting was held in Shenzhen on April 14, 2017 to discuss matters concerning the Shenzhen declaration. A framework was put forward, and the declaration was put into its final form on May 3, 2017.
May 25, 2017: Through generous sponsorship by the Shenzhen government, the IBC 2017 awards to assist leading scholars and outstanding students to attend the congress were established by the organizing committee of IBC 2017. After careful consideration, 526 recipients were chosen. The awardees list was announced on the IBC 2017 website (http://www.ibc2017.cn/Awardlist/).
May, 2017: The Shenzhen International Award in Plant Sciences was initiated by the Organizing Committee of the XIX International Botanical Congress (IBC 2017). It is intended to recognize scientists who have conducted breakthrough research in both the basic and applied plant sciences and whose outstanding contributions have impacted our understanding of the plant world. Nominations (http://www.ibc2017.cn/Nomination/) for this year's award will end at 24:00 Beijing time on Friday, June 30, 2017