Marie Haga | Marie’s Corner

Dear Friends,

We have some great news.

The United Nations’ Member States have been negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals for more than a year. The Open Working Group (OWG) has been in charge of the process up to now and it finalized its report in the late evening of 19 July.

You might recall that the Crop Trust was invited to give a presentation to the Open Working Group in February. Since then, we have presented documents and worked with influential delegations in New York and the co-chairs. The latest document we presented was a joint document with the International Treaty on PGRFA, the CGIAR Consortium and Bioversity International.

The results have been very favorable to the efforts of the Crop Trust. Many of the targets are very general. However, the target on genetic resources is quite specific. It is target 2.5 under goal 2.

Proposed Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

Target 2.5: By 2020 maintain genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at national, regional and international levels, and ensure access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge as internationally agreed.

There is also a reference to biodiversity in Target 15.5, which is helpful to the Crop Trust. It speaks about halting the loss of biodiversity. Target 15.9 is also relevant because it speaks about integrations of biodiversity values in national and local planning, poverty reduction strategies etc…

Proposed Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Target 15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce degradation of natural habitat, halt the loss of biodiversity, and by 2020 protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Target 15.9: By 2020, integrate ecosystems and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes and poverty reduction strategies, and accounts.

The SDG process will be finalized at the UN General Assembly next year, and we need to spend time also in the months ahead safeguarding “our” targets. But – the report from the OWG gives reason to be optimistic.

The Science Team

This week, 5 and 6 August, Jane and Hannes are at Millennium Seed Bank (MSB), Royal Botanic Gardens UK for a project management meeting of our 10 years Crop Wild Relatives Project. Geoff Hawtin, who is a member of the CWR Project Advisory Group, will also attend part. It is a particularly important meeting with respect to moving forward with the collecting phase of the Project, the Millenium Seed Bank is leading. The meeting will involve MSB staff at the forefront of getting the collecting projects in place and providing capacity strengthening support to the collectors from the national genebanks. We have three collecting projects underway Portugal, Cyprus and Italy. We expect two further projects to be in place before the end of the month, with Vietnam and Georgia. Last week, we were delighted to receive a proposal from EMBRAPA Brazil for a collecting project.

Last month, we were on the road for three weeks in North America to discuss and review wild relatives prebreeding activities on a range of crops, as well as following-up on DivSeek activities.

We have been busy organizing the assessments of genebank management documentation systems and efforts to strengthen national capacity. Bioversity International was contracted to conduct the assessments in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, and ICARDA will undertake ten assessments in the north Africa and west Asia region. Planning is in hand for similar activities to support CWR Project partners and other national programs in Asia and the Pacific. We have now an agreement in place with CIMMYT to support the position of an IT specialist based at CIMMYT, working closely with the USDA and CGIAR Centres to deploy the genebank management system GRIN-Global in the CGIAR System and to national genebanks interested in its adoption.

With regards to Genesys, we have assisted The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) in updating accession passport data. Bioversity has now signed the Genesys Data Provider Agreement, leaving just one CGIAR Centre yet to sign. Genesys and its part in the creation of an information system for the International Treaty on PGRFA, is expected to feature strongly in the upcoming deliberations of the Open-Ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Article 17.

The white paper on DivSeek was finalized and is available on the newly created DivSeek website: DivSeek’s governance and legal group met last month and drafted an ‘expression of interest’ letter that will be distributed to possible partners within the next few weeks.

Following the external review of the CIMMYT genebank, the Recommendation Action Plan (RAP) with USD 575,000 support, is now in place and will run until run December 2016.  The panel for the external review of the ICRISAT genebank external review has been established and documents for the review are being prepared.

The Partnerships and Communication Team

Concerning our work with current and potential donors, we started the month of July with meetings at the European Commission and with seed industry associations in Brussels.  We are planning to engage with newly elected Members of European Parliament after the summer break. In mid-July meetings were held with US foundations and seed industry representatives in Washington DC and Des Moines, and in Ottawa with the Government of Canada. A visit to London established new contacts for the Crop Trust with investment managers and family offices as well as the Royal Society.

On the Communications front, the Crop Trust attended the 10-year anniversary event of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Geneva. In Berlin, we held a special meeting of the Finance and Investment Committee to review the implementation of the Fundraising Strategy and our Communications work. Also in July, we dispatched our 2013 Annual Report to all donors and partners, and we entered into a contract with a web designer to start development of the new Crop Trust corporate website, to be launched in early 2015.

The work continues. Don’t forget to check out our 2013 Annual Report.

All the best,




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