Marie's Corner

A look back on 2015

It is easy to predict that 2016 will be action-packed hopefully also fun for everybody in the Crop Trust. I’m convinced we’ll make great achievements this year, as we did in 2015. As we put our engines in gear to roar ahead into 2016, let’s take a look back on 2015, one of the most productive years in the Crop Trust’s existence.

A look back on 2015, On our mission to conserve and make available the world’s crop diversity:

As the five-year partnership with the CGIAR Consortium to manage and provide sustainable support for the crop collections held at CGIAR draws to an end, we’ve proved that we are value for money. We will present a new genebank platform in 2016 and prepare the ground for long-term management of the Article 15 collections.

We’ve brought our work on information systems to a new level in 2015 through reviews and development of Genesys. We have also carved out a way forward for DivSeek and clarified our own role. 2016 will be the moment of truth for DivSeek, but no matter what the result will be for DivSeek, we will carry the idea of making the full use of the crop collections and the bountiful information associated with them forward.

We have also achieved more than we could have hoped for in the Crop Wild Relatives Project in 2015. As of today, we have collecting projects in 15 countries including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Portugal, Sudan, Uganda, and Vietnam. We also have pre-breeding projects for 15 crops in 26 partner countries.

We will build on this in 2016 and are currently negotiating with 12 countries for collecting projects and pre-breeding projects for four crops and seven country partners. In 2016, we will seek funding for phase three of the project from 2017-2020. If you get a chance, check out the new project website.

The value of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been proved in 2015. Precious seeds that had originally been sent by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) for safeguarding in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault were safely delivered to Morocco and Lebanon, having undertaken a 10,000-kilometer round trip. ICARDA’s collection held in Allepo, Syria is safe, but the civil war made it impossible to function to the full extent a genebank should function. ICARDA’s Genebank Manager, Athanasios Tsivelikas, emotionally describes the importance of the Vault and ICARDA’s appreciation for their backup collection being stored the safe-haven in Svalbard.

We will contribute to developing Svalbard in 2016 and continue using it as an excellent communication platform for the mission of the Crop Trust and conservation efforts around the world.

Overall, we have created a higher level of understanding of the importance for crop diversity in 2015. We will only continue to spread understanding of importance of this incredible global common good in 2016.

A look back on 2015, On partnerships for ensuring the availability of crop diversity:

2016 is a big year for the Crop Trust’s efforts to secure funding to secure the world’s crop diversity. We have prepared the ground for our Pledging Conference to be held in April 2016.

Although the refugee crises is challenging financial resources for development for the time being, I’m convinced we’ll have a successful conference in April and also start building the foundation for the next phase of fundraising. Follow the progress on our pledging conference website.

In 2015, the Crop Trust has proven that its administrative and financial management are run soundly and efficiently. We’ll continue to show that we are a uniquely solid, effective and efficient international organization in 2016.

Whilst 2015 was a challenging year marketwise and we don’t expect that to change in 2016, we’ll continue to ensure that our investments are managed in the best possible way, minimizing risk along the way.

Personally I’m looking forward to travelling less and spending more time in Bonn in 2016 than I did in 2015. It is a great pleasure working with my colleagues at the Crop Trust – we have an absolutely fabulous team.

I am thrilled to begin 2016 thanking Germany for a €25 million contribution to the Endowment Fund!

Cheers to a new year and a successful 2016.

Marie

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