Sir Peter Crane's Reflections on the Last Year
After three years as Chair of the Executive Board of the Crop Trust, Sir Peter Crane is retiring and Catherine Bertini, a World Food Prize Laureate, will assume leadership. In his final letter in the Crop Trust annual report, Crane highlights some memorable experiences.
In my long tenure as a member of the Crop Trust executive board and as its chair, I’ve been privileged to witness firsthand some of its greatest achievements to date.
When I joined the board in 2007, the Crop Trust launched the Global System Project, the largest rescue of crop collections that has ever been attempted. This ambitious project helped provide the foundations of much of the organization’s work since. At the end of that year, the Endowment Fund stood at nearly USD 83 million, while the staff comprised 15 full-time members and five part-timers.
And now, in 2021, my final year on the board, the Crop Trust has grown in every respect. The Endowment Fund stands at nearly USD 400 million and the organization has a dedicated staff of more than 40. This past year marked the successful conclusion of two major projects: the Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) Project and the CGIAR Genebank Platform. But this is not the end of either stream of work. The CWR Project is providing the foundations for a new 10-year project, Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD), while the Genebank Platform will live on in the Crop Trust’s new relationship with One CGIAR and with other genebanks around the world.
These are just a few signs of how the Crop Trust has grown in my time on the board.
The three years I’ve spent as Chair of the Executive Board of the Crop Trust have certainly been memorable. In my first year, 2019, we celebrated the Crop Trust’s first 15 years; a period of remarkable growth and consolidation. In that time, the organization rescued genebanks, raised its Endowment Fund to a level where it could sustainably fund numerous crop collections in perpetuity, and supported the back up of nearly a million seed samples in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It was a time of celebration and of hope for the future.
The next two years could have seen this all come to a halt as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. But the Crop Trust, its staff and its partners demonstrated remarkable resilience, commitment and adaptability to deliver against its own challenging program of work and even launch new initiatives, including the BOLD Project and an emergency relief fund for genebanks in crisis—the first of its kind. We are grateful to the Government of Norway for its support.
We are also grateful to the German Government for its support for a three-year project to further the institutional development and strategic repositioning of the Crop Trust, particularly around sustainable financing.
These new initiatives, together with the rest of the Crop Trust’s program, will contribute to laying the foundations for a more secure global food system for decades to come.
Here's hoping that 2022 and beyond will see a return to more normal times and allow the Crop Trust and all its partners to continue with their efforts to ensure that the world’s crop diversity is conserved and put to use in meeting humanity’s need for a food- and nutrition-secure future.
It has been a great pleasure and an honor to be a part of this exciting journey. I shall continue to do all I can from the sidelines to promote and support the work of the Crop Trust and its partners.