Dear Friends of the Crop Trust,
In the following month we will prepare for many upcoming events including a deposit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a Donor’s Council meeting, a meeting of the Executive Board, numerous meetings with donors/potential donors and presentations in Shenzen, Rome, Bangkok, Brussels (for EU countries) and at the COP in South Korea and the Climate Summit in New York.
As you might know, I do a Marie’s corner every month to give a flavor of what we have been working on.
On our work with current and potential donors, the focus was on the private sector community for the past month. We signed a new contribution agreement with Crop Life International, the industry association representing the world’s major seed producers. We additionally engaged in bilateral discussions with seed producers in Switzerland and the US on potential follow-up contributions to the endowment. Initial meetings were held in Switzerland with several foundations, a leading insurance company and with a plant research center.
In the UK, the Crop Trust entered into its first cooperation agreement with a leading partnership in London bringing together major Family Offices in the UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, representing wealth managers for high-net-worth individuals. We are also working on establishing a tax-exempt status for individual donors in the UK. In the US, we have registered the Crop Trust as an eligible recipient of individual customer donations on the website of a major global online retailer, taking advantage of tax-exempt status in the US.
On the government front we hosted two delegations from US Congress to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Outreach has continued during August with the Governments of Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand on specific proposed new contributions to the endowment. The Crop Trust also made a presentation to a senior officials meeting of the ASEAN member states in Malaysia.
On Communications, August was a busy and productive month. It began with the release of our Newsletter highlighting the Crop Wild Relatives project and announcing the Crop Trust’s presence in two further social media channels: Instagram and Slideshare. The World Bank’s VP for Climate Change, Ms. Rachel Kyte, wrote an opinion piece in the Scientific American magazine. This Op/Ed on the importance of crop diversity conservation was widely quoted and retweeted in social media.
In collaboration with Epic Agency, the development of our new corporate website is moving forward. The Crop Trust continues to build its presence online — social media posts and followers are both on the rise. A positive peak in activity was seen during the Crop Wild Relatives collecting training session in Uganda, which was covered ‘live’ by our communications team.
On the technical side we have are having discussions with the CGIAR Fund Council, Fund Office and Consortium Office on how the CGIAR genebanks should be managed and financed after 2016, after the present Genebank CRP.
The CGIAR Consortium and the Fund Council are finalizing the new Strategy and Results Framework that will guide the development of the new phase of CRPs. It is in the final stages of development and we are hopeful it will include indicators for the conservation of genetic resources and highlight the role of the genebanks.
ICARDA will be receiving additional funding to help their decentralization plan for the genebank. The funds will be made available through the Genebanks CRP and be used to upgrade field and cold room facilities in Lebanon and Morocco.
Janny van Beem has joined the Science Team to focus on quality management. She has initiated a comprehensive workplan for the strengthening of quality and risk management systems in the CGIAR genebanks. We will be ensuring that all genebanks have a minimum level of QMS by 2016. We have finalized and released funds to CIMMYT and CIAT to implement workplans to respond to the recommendations made by the expert external reviews.
Our colleague Hannes Dempewolf gave a keynote lecture at the 2014 International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane about the importance of wild relatives for the horticultural sector. He is currently visiting with key partners in Australia including the new Australian Grains Genebank. In the CWR project, there has been a focus on the development of partnerships, including the conclusion of a grant agreement with partners in Georgia on collecting.
In cooperation with CIMMYT and ICARDA we have proposed the establishment of an Expert Working Group on wheat germplasm conservation and use under the International Wheat Initiative. This expert working group would function as the first “crop community”.
Reviews of the international genebanks is major operation and we are now preparing for the ICRISAT review in November.
I am personally looking forward to seeing our Board member Dr. P L Gautam on Monday in New Delhi. After that I will continue to China, Peru, Colombia and finally end up in New York for the UN Climate Summit where I will give three Crop Trust presentations in events hosted by the International Treaty.
All the best from all of us in Bonn,