In my first corner of 2015, I will take the opportunity to mainly look ahead towards our 2016 Pledging Conference. The preparations for the Conference are already well underway and will leave a mark on much of our work in 2015.
The clear advice of our main donors is to have the Pledging Conference in conjunction with the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings. We plan accordingly, and the Pledging Conference will be held in Washington in mid-April 2016.
The German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Gerd Mueller, has kindly confirmed that he will chair the meeting jointly with the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boerge Brende. We still await the formal confirmation from Mr Brende, but we are expecting it to come soon.
We are very pleased that the UN Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, has confirmed that he will give a key note address on “Harnessing crop diversity to feed future generations” at the Conference, and equally pleased that the World Bank Vice President and Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council, Rachel Kyte, will give an opening address.
We are currently preparing invitation letters to all present and potential donor countries and plan to have them circulated in the next few weeks. It might seem early to send out the invitation, but the reason for their timely issuance is the long budget cycle in many countries, and we of course want them to be well prepared for the Conference.
In the time ahead we will try to strike the fine balance between creating momentum for the Pledging Conference and at the same time manage expectations. We feel by now very confident that the Pledging Conference will be a success – how big a success will depend on the whole organization’s effectiveness in raising awareness and arguing our case.
As part of the build-up to the Pledging Conference, we hosted our first global Stakeholder Discussion in Berlin on 16 January where we discussed our core work on oversight and funding of international crop collections and a methodology to identify national genebanks as part of the global system. We are planning another Stakeholder meeting in Rome on 7 May to discuss the Crop Wild Relatives Project and information systems – Genesys and DivSeek.
We have discussed with the Chair of the Donors’ Council that we might want to have a side event in Addis 13 – 16 July in conjunction with the United Nations conference on Financing for Development. This event would mainly cover our innovative outreach to private investors.
The Governing Body of the International Treaty on PGRFA will meet in October. I understand the dates are yet to be determined – and this will also offer an opportunity to meet with stakeholders. We will of course also have the annual Donors’ Council meeting at the end of October in Rome.
In addition to the broader based meetings, we will continue to meet extensively with donors individually to discuss technical issues as well as funding.
We will give the Executive Board a full update on the path towards the Pledging Conference in our next meeting in Peru 17 and 18 March.
From the month of January, let me highlight the following:
- We launched the new Crop Trust corporate website. This takes our online presence and communications efforts into the 21st century with a great interactive map, a dynamic tour of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and an up-to-date news centercollating information on crop diversity and the Crop Trust. The new informational video on the mission of the Crop Trust, “Securing Our Food, Forever,” won the Video of the Day Award.
- A successful first DivSeek general assembly was held in San Diego. The DivSeek Charter is adopted and the Chair of the Steering Committee is elected. We are grateful that Susan McCouch has taken on this important responsibility. The rest of the Steering Committee is in the process off being elected.
- In the CRP, activities against the Quality Management System workplan agreed at the last AGM are coming along in all CG centre genebanks. They include developing standard operating procedures, succession plans and risk management matrices
- In the Crop Wild Relatives project a collecting agreement was signed with Kenya, and another one is nearing signature with Brazil. We signed pre-breeding project agreements on chickpea and sweet potato
- We have agreements in place for genebank information system assessments in Cuba, Ecuador, Argentina and Costa Rica
Kind regards from the Crop Trust Team in Bonn.