The International genebanks managed by the CGIAR on behalf of the global community under Article 15 of the International Treaty, hold some of the most important and highest quality collections of crop diversity in the world.

The external reviews of these genebanks, that the Crop Trust organizes, are important tools for understanding and maintaining their status. These very comprehensive reviews form the basis for decisions on upgrading of the genebanks and in the longer term also for long term funding. Two external reviews took place in June – of CIP (Peru) and ICRAF (Kenya). The CIP review included a thorough assessment of information systems.

The wild relatives of domesticated crops have the potential to become a game changer in adapting crops to climate change. Our Crop Wild Relatives Project is making steady progress. We are happy to report that we have received collecting proposals from Nepal and Lebanon. Colombia and Guatemala have expressed interest to participate in the project. Three pre-breeding proposals are nearing completions, for sorghum, pigeon pea and alfalfa. We are in the final stages of selecting a company to redesign the website of the Crop Wild Relatives project, to go live by mid-September. The Genesys website is also being updated.

It is also worth noting that we received a preliminary summary report on the status of ex-situ collections of tropical forages, as well as the workplan for developing the global conservation strategy of these resources. Preparations for a consultation workshop taking place this year at the Crop Trust, are under way.

DivSeek is an initiative to help unlock the potential of crop diversity so it can be utilized to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems throughout the world. The newly elected DivSeek Steering Committee (SC) has held its first meeting.

Among the next steps in the DivSeek process are the following:

  • The Steering Committee, with support from the Joint Facilitation Unit (the Crop Trust, the Global Plant Council, the Plant Treaty and the CGIAR Consortium Office), will elaborate a proposal for a multi-year DivSeek strategy during the next months
  • An independent governance committee will start its work to propose a framework for engaging with the private sector, outline guidelines for publishing DivSeek documents, clarify the governance structure of DivSeek and describe lines of communication and governance principles that will allow it to remain flexible and evolve in the future
  • The ‘landscape study’ of projects and initiatives of relevance to DivSeek will be expanded. Results will be made available online through the DivSeek website and as a peer-reviewed publication

Occasionally, we are asked by donors whether our work to raise the Endowment Fund has the full support of the CGIAR. We are therefore grateful that we have received an open Support Letter from the CGIAR to the donor community for funding of the Crop Trust Endowment, signed by the 11 CGIAR Centers with genebanks, the CGIAR Fund Council Chair and the CGAIR Consortium Board Chair.

We have also received another document with great pleasure – namely a study on the Crop Trust contracted by Germany’s KfW on behalf of the German Government. The study reviewed our strategy and operations, and confirmed the soundness of our operational and financial set-up.

Work is advancing further on our forthcoming Investment Sharing Facility to mobilize private wealth for food security.

We continue following up with governments that are invited to our Pledging Conference that will be held on 14 April 2016 in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings. We have held bilateral meetings with Embassies in Berlin (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania) and Rome (Australia, Canada, Nigeria). In Brussels we met with the European Commission and also with Crop Life International, the seed industry association.

Meeting governments also means travel. We have met with the French authorities in Paris and with the Thai government in Bangkok. In Singapore, we met with a Social Impact Advisor and an international wealth manager to discuss cooperation opportunities for attracting private capital for food security. In Milan, at the 26th Annual Summit of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) we met with private philanthropic funders to better understand the fundraising landscape in Europe. We are working with the EFC on a seminar opportunity for the Crop Trust at the 2016 summit in Amsterdam.

Specifically on communications, we published our 2014 Annual Report online, accompanied by a social media campaign that reached 22,000 people. We also hosted a group of French senators plus German and Japanese journalists in Svalbard. The European Seed Magazine covered our work with a story on Why Crop Diversity Matters as well as interview on their web page.

Wishing you a great summer!

Marie

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