Reflecting on 2022
3 July 2023
At the beginning of 2022, many of us expected this to be a year when life began to return to normal after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while we have gradually begun to return to the office and resume face-to-face engagements with our partners, much has shown us that normal is a thing of the past.
The catastrophic floods in Pakistan and the long-term droughts in places as far apart—both physically and economically—as the Horn of Africa and the western United States demonstrate the impacts of the climate crisis on the daily lives of millions of people.
When the war started in Ukraine—the world’s fifth-largest wheat exporter—we again realized how fragile and interconnected food systems are: Its essential shipments to developing countries in Africa and the Middle East were now hindered.
Later, when a research facility near Ukraine’s national genebank in the northeastern city of Kharkiv was bombed, we were again sadly reminded of the risks facing crop diversity collections in times of conflict. Fortunately, the genebank itself was not damaged. But if it had been—with only 4 percent of its collection backed up at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault—basically the whole collection could have been lost. Genebanks, and the seeds that they safeguard, are fragile and need care.
The world’s diverse crop collections offer a lasting, sustainable solution to the hunger and famine that are among the most brutal consequences of the climate crisis. The diversity that genebanks hold will allow us to breed and grow tomorrow’s crops—including fruits, vegetables, cereals and tubers.
And yet genebanks around the world are still underfunded, and seeds still need saving in order to achieve this security.
The Crop Trust continues to play a leading role in pursuit of these goals. We support the world’s most important genebanks from our Endowment Fund, which is at the heart of our mission. But our work does not end there. We also address gaps in the global system for the conservation of crop diversity through projects that closely complement the work funded by the endowment.
In 2022, we neared the completion of a major multi-year initiative—the breathing new life into the Global Crop Conservation Strategies Project—and made major strides forward on a Project called Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD), which began in 2021. In 2022, we also began the Sweetpotato Project.
During 2022, we opened the doors of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault—the ultimate backup facility for the world’s crop diversity—on three occasions, and welcomed new depositors from national genebanks in Iraq, Lithuania, Spain and Uruguay. The increasing number of countries in the Seed Vault family bodes well for the global drive to conserve the genetic diversity that scientists depend on to breed new varieties and that farmers need to continue feeding us all.
In addition to our projects and our work with hundreds of partners around the world, we have increased our participation in global events to raise awareness of the vital role of crop diversity in our shared food and nutrition security. This awareness-raising is now an integral part of what we do and a central feature of the Crop Trust strategy to 2030, which was drafted in 2022 and will be completed in 2023.
In addition to participation in many global events, in September the Crop Trust hosted a stakeholders' gathering to celebrate crop diversity in Bonn, Germany. It featured keynote addresses and panel discussions on policy aspects of harnessing crop diversity to improve food security in developing countries, and on the indispensable role that nature plays in creating a resilient food system.
In 2022, for the first time ever, the Crop Trust participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference. At the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, I delivered a statement during a high-level segment to help put food security and agriculture on the climate agenda. This special focus at the event culminated in the launch of a new initiative aimed at raising finance to transform agriculture by 2030.
The following month, I also had the opportunity to participate in the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), held in Montreal. There, I took part in a session titled “From targets to action: How to implement food-related targets of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,” together with colleagues from CGIAR, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The session presented global examples of successful practices that use food systems as pathways to helping countries meet their food-related targets of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together with our partners. I am profoundly thankful to my staff, research and funding partners, and everyone who takes the time to savor and support crop diversity.
Thank you for your support and partnership. I hope you enjoy reading this report.
Category: Annual Reports & Financial statements