Let us start this month’s ‘Corner’ with the scientific work and mention the following:

A visit of our staff and to negotiate collecting agreements in Latin America finally came to an end in mid Septemer – after three weeks. We are pleased to report that we are following up collecting agreements with four potential partners in the region: Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

On the Crop Wild Relatives project (CWR) it is worth mentioning that we have signed a pigeonpea pre-breeding agreement with ICRISAT and that the CWR Project website redevelopment is heating up. We are looking forward to a full launch in the near future.

There are lots of new developments on the information side. We have signed two new information projects: upgrading genebank information system in Vietnam and a GOAL Masterclass (regional genebank documentation training hosted by India) with the Crawford Fund. [Read about the previous GOAL Masterclass here.]

We have furthermore assessed the genebank documentation systems and practices in Bolivia – actually a follow up of a GRIN-Global training. Other news are that IITA and Kew uploaded data to Genesys,and ICRISAT has expressed interest in GRIN-Global adoption.

We have also had a CGIAR Genebank Research Program audit and are looking forward to the report without being nervous about it!

We are planning for a forages strategy workshop in mid-October in Bonn as well as the Annual Meeting of Genebank Managers combined with a meeting of Crop Wild Relatives Project partners in Izmir in Turkey.

On the Partnership side much of the current attention is on preparing for the October 26 Donors’ Council meeting, to be held as a joint session with the Executive Board. We’ll discuss topical issues such as a strengthened role for the Donors’ Council and potential donors’ loans to the Crop Trust Endowment.

We are also preparing for an envisaged seminar/pre- pledging workshop jointly with the CGIAR Fund Council in Washington DC on the 2nd of November. In the United Kingdom on 23 November we are organizing a ministerial event at the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to showcase the Crop Wild Relatives project. Furthermore, we are working with the German authorities on a possible Ministerial event at the next Green Week international fair in Berlin in January 2016.

In September 2015 we continued our partnerships outreach with governments invited to the Crop Trust Pledging Conference on 14 April 2016 in Washington, DC. We met with the embassies of Kuwait and Turkey in Berlin and with the European Commissions Health Commissioner who visited the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. We continue to be in an active dialogue with a number of current and prospective donor governments about their support for the Crop Trust. USAID has agreed to provide further financial support during 2015 towards the operational expenditures of the Crop Trust Secretariat. We are about to sign a grant agreement with Japan’s Agriculture Ministry on implementing a research project for rice improvement in Africa. We expect to sign a grant agreement with Germany’s KfW acting on behalf of the German Development Cooperation Ministry by the end of 2015.

Our private sector partnership activities in September included a visit to Deutsche Bank to present the work of the Crop Trust to senior management involved in the Environmental, Social and Governance investment portfolio of the bank, as part of our work to launch the new Investment Sharing Facility of the Crop Trust. Per our crop-specific strategies, we held introductory meetings with World Coffee Research to discuss possible synergies and partnership opportunities with industry leaders. For October we are organizing discussion with members of the food industry at the 2015 World Food Prize in Iowa and we expect to engage further with the seed industry through mid-term meetings of the International Seed Federation.

September was a busy month in communications, particularly with regard to the news that the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) had requested that some of their seeds be sent to Morocco and Lebanon to restart their collection. The news was reported across all platforms of media including TV (e.g. NBC, ABC Australia, MSNBC), newspaper (e.g. Washington Post, USA Today, Süddeutsche Zeitung), online (e.g. CNN, Wired, Huffington Post), radio (e.g. BBC and NPR) and social media. Some of the main articles can be found here:

CNN: Syria’s civil war prompts first ‘Doomsday Vault’ withdrawal 

BBC World Service: Svalbard’s seed bank helps Aleppo

ABC Australia: Syrian conflict prompts first seed withdrawal from ‘doomsday vault’

NPR (USA): Reclaiming Syria’s Seeds From An Icy Arctic Vault

Wired: That Arctic Seed Vault Isn’t Just There for a Doomsday

You can probably look for more news to come from Svalbard in the coming months.

We were also able to publish an Editorial in South Korea penned by Dr. Cary Fowler, held a radio interview with Radio France Internationale, and place a call to action by The Economist which argued that “preserving the (crop) genetic diversity that remains would be an excellent investment”.

Best regards from all of us in Bonn,

Marie

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