A COVID-19 Update by Stefan Schmitz
The values of multilateralism have never been so important
As I write, one third of the world’s population is in “lockdown”. Governments are demanding that their citizens stay at home. New terms, like “social distancing,” are becoming mainstream. And individuals and communities around the world are re-inventing their daily lives to combat the onslaught of COVID-19.
At the Crop Trust, we place priority on the health and safety of our staff, families, partners, donors, and stakeholders. We are committed to finding pragmatic solutions that allow everyone to exercise necessary precautions and stay healthy, while minimizing disruption to our work.
Multilateralism is the key principle on which the Crop Trust is built. There can be no food security, no effective and efficient conservation of plant genetic resources, no impactful plant breeding, without global cooperation.
Now, in this crises, working together globally and protecting the global instruments and values of multilateralism are more important than ever before.
Open for business
We are hearing the term “unprecedented” a lot these days. And it’s appropriate. The vast majority of us have never faced a challenge of this nature. And it has rarely been more important that we come together as a community to save lives.
The staff of the Crop Trust have adopted a number of measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19, while still maintaining our normal workload.
All staff have been working from home since 12 March, and will continue to do so until further notice. We have adopted a number of measures to ensure our staff stay well connected with each other and our partners, and can continue with business as close to usual as possible.
We have cancelled or postponed all mission travel and face-to-face meetings until we are certain that there is no longer a risk of further COVID-19 infection.
Working with our partners
The public health situation in the countries of our partners is understandably impacting planned project activities, and Crop Trust staff are working to support them in every way possible. We ask everyone to take great care, and follow the advice of relevant national and international authorities.
We are deeply inspired by the work of some of our partners who, despite being bound by strict lockdown regulations of their countries, have managed to continue their task of conserving the plant genetic resources in their care against the odds.
Long-term funding perspective
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the global financial markets, which are currently subject to strong volatility. The Crop Trust is fortunate to have a long-term financial perspective that can weather the current financial storm. The Crop Trust Endowment Fund is highly diversified and structured for the long term, so that it can withstand short-term market dislocations like we are now experiencing to achieve its objectives. We are confident that our financial strategies will allow us to continue our critical work of funding genebanks.
We regret that we aren’t able to shake the hands of our many partners around the world, but we do invite you to stay in touch with us virtually. We will continue telling the stories of the work of our partners on our websites and social media channels.
We are deeply grateful for your continued support and confidence. We recognize that the restrictions placed on our daily lives have created hardships. But we are stronger together. Our solidarity will not only lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus, but also ensure we can continue with our vital task of ensuring we conserve and make available the plant genetic resources of the world, so ample, nutritious food can reach kitchen tables for generations to come.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And stay at home.
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Crop Trust. The Crop Trust is committed to publishing a diversity of opinions on crop diversity conservation and use.