Press Release

Major Deposit to World’s Largest Seed Collection in the Arctic


SVALBARD, NORWAY – 22 February 2017A major seed deposit critical to ensuring global food security was made to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle today.

Despite a backdrop of geopolitical volatility, nearly 50,000 samples of seeds from seed collections in Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Netherlands, the U.S, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and the U.K have travelled to the vault on the Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole today for long-term safekeeping.

The preparation and shipment of seeds to the facility has been funded in-part by the Crop Trust, the only organization working worldwide to create, fund and manage an efficient and effective global system of seed collections.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world’s largest collection of agricultural biodiversity, is a safe and secure vault supported by the Crop Trust which can store up to four and a half million samples of crops from all over the world. By preserving duplicate samples of seeds held in genebanks worldwide, the vault provides a “fail safe” insurance against loss of crop diversity caused by climate change, natural disaster or war.

Speaking from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Ms. Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust commented:

“Today’s seed deposit at Svalbard supported by The Crop Trust shows that despite political and economic differences in other arenas, collective efforts to conserve crop diversity and produce a global food supply for tomorrow continue to be strong.

Together, the nations that have deposited their seed collections account for over a quarter of the world’s population. Nearly every country has agreed on the importance on conserving crop diversity through Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to conserve agricultural diversity in seed collections. Crop diversity is a fundamental foundation for the end of hunger.”

To support the Crop Trust’s critical work at Svalbard and genebanks around the world, GoPro for a Cause, GoPro’s program dedicated to impact storytelling for non-profit organizations, today launched a fundraising initiative and short documentary to help the Svalbard Seed Vault ensure ongoing crop conservation.

Commenting on the campaign, Erica Stanulis, Director of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at GoPro said:

“We’re thrilled to support the Crop Trust’s efforts at Svalbard Seed Vault with the launch of GoPro’s short documentary that offers a unique, first-person perspective on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and its mission. Our production team has spent more than a year filming, editing and interviewing the team, and we’re thrilled that the Crop Trust will use this film to share their story with more people.

The Crop Trust provides crucial funding and training for routine genebank operations, such as quality and information management. Without this basic support for diverse varieties of food crops – like the ones that travel to Svalbard – the future of the world’s global food supply is at risk.

The Crop Trust’s funding allows millions of plant genetic resources to be recorded and ultimately shared and used around the world to improve agricultural production and prevent loss of crop diversity in the face of natural disasters, climate change and war.

A case in point is the work of the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) previously located in Syria. When fighting struck Aleppo, ICARDA requested its duplicate seeds stored in Svalbard were withdrawn so it could continue its multiplication and breeding efforts in the safer locations of Morocco and Lebanon. Having successfully achieved this through the Crop Trust’s support, a portion of the seeds withdrawn in 2015 are returning to Svalbard today.


Mr. Aly Abousabaa, Director General of ICARDA, said: “Collaboration between the Norwegian Government, NordGen, the Crop Trust, CGIAR and ICARDA shows what is possible when international partners come together to find solutions to pressing regional and global challenges. We are demonstrating today that we can rely on our genebanks and their safety duplications, despite adverse circumstances, so we can get one step closer to a food secure world.”

Seed samples for some of the world’s most vital food sources like the potato, sorghum, rice, barley, chickpea, lentil and wheat will be deposited at Svalbard in the coming days, bringing the total number of seed samples at the facility to 930,821.

A selection of supporting images of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the GoPro for a Cause documentary can be found here.

To view the full GoPro short documentary and contribute to the campaign, please visit:


For more information on the Crop Trust look at our website, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Use the hashtag #seeds4tomorrow to follow the Svalbard seed story this week. 


Cierra Martin | The Crop Trust | T +49 171 1165036 |

Charlotte Paton | Edelman | T +44 7932 131 556 |


  • The Crop Trust is the only international organisation devoted solely to ensuring the conservation and availability of crop diversity worldwide.

  • The Crop Trust is working to build a global system to guarantee the conservation and availability of the genetic diversity of all major agricultural food crops in seed banks, thus unleashing their potential and promoting their use, forever.

  • This system is made up of international genebanks, national genebanks and the world’s global back up facility for humanity’s agricultural heritage – the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – all with information and quality management systems in place.

  •  The Crop Trust allocates funds to support genebanks through the Crop Diversity Endowment Fund – a self-sustaining fund built upon earned investment income. The Crop Trust is working to reach the fund’s target size of USD 850 million.

  • The Crop Trust is an essential funding element of the United Nation’s International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which 144 countries have acceded to.

About the Svalbard Global Seed Vault:

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the largest collection of agricultural biodiversity in the world. Located in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the Seed Vault is owned by the Norwegian Government and operated under a three-party agreement between the Norwegian Government, NordGen and the Crop Trust. Depositors to the Seed Vault still own the samples that they deposit and only they can retrieve the material if required.

Institutions depositing at Svalbard, February 2017: 

Seeds Savers Exchange – United States of America

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) – Morocco and Lebanon

National Agricultural Research Centre – Pakistan

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) – Mexico

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources – India

James Hutton Institute – UK (Scotland) – 1st deposit ever

Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN) – Netherlands

AfricaRice – Benin

National Academy of Sciences of Belarus

 Genetic Resources Institute, University of Banja Luka – Bosnia and Herzegovina


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