Athlete Michael Haddad Reaches Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Endurance athlete Michael Haddad successfully completed his journey to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Tuesday, delivering a "package of hope" containing seeds and a book by Pope Francis to the world's largest backup facility for seeds.
"In my country and region, as we deal with a myriad of challenges, we have no option but to hold on to hope,” said Haddad, who has been paralyzed from the chest down since the age of six and used a unique “step-to-gait” method to walk nearly 5 kilometers from the Svalbard Museum to the Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway.
His journey, dubbed the Arctic Walk for Climate Resilience and Food Security, comes amid heightened concerns around food security.
“Our hope is bold, grounded in faith in our ability to do the right thing and to act collectively, in solidarity, at the pace and scale needed to arrest the fast-progressing climate emergency and stave off a looming food crisis," said Haddad.
Haddad's feat ensured seeds of wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea and other forage legumes from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the State of Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen in his care will be secured in the Seed Vault as part of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)'s deposit.
Upon reaching the Seed Vault, he was greeted by NordGen's Seed Vault Coordinator Åsmund Asdal, who applauded "the determination [Haddad] exhibits in his quest to remind all of us of the importance of addressing climate change, together and with urgency."