Press Release

Major Seed deposit at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Longyearbyen

SVALBARD (25 February) – Today, 35 genebanks from all continents deposited seeds at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, at a deposit event hosted by Norwegian Prime Minister and co-chair of the UN group of SDG Advocates, Erna Solberg. President of Ghana and co-chair Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and other members of the Group of Advocates also participated at the event.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the world’s largest backup collection of seed samples from the world’s genebanks. The seeds that were deposited today come from 35 international and regional genebanks, as well as national institutions and civil society organizations, bringing the total number of seed samples stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to more than one million, and the total number of depositors to 85.

Among them were first-time depositors Cherokee Nation (USA), the University of Haifa (Israel), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (Morocco), the Julius Kühn Institute (Germany), the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum (South Korea), Suceava Genebank ‘Mihai Cristea’ (Romania) and Kew Gardens (UK).

“This deposit event is especially timely, given that 2020 is the deadline for meeting target 2.5 of SDG 2 on zero hunger, which calls on the international community to safeguard the genetic diversity of crops and livestock,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

The seeds of several hundred different plant species were deposited today and included common staple crops and a large variety of vegetables, herbs and their less-used wild relatives.

Today’s deposit was the largest since the Seed Vault’s opening in 2008, in terms of the number of institutions to send seeds at one time. It was also the first major deposit since the completion of a technical upgrade in 2019. The improvements that have been made to the Seed Vault include the construction of a new waterproof access tunnel, together with other security measures in preparation for what is expected to be a warmer, wetter future.

“Norway greatly values the trust shown to us by all the genebanks that have chosen to use the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as part of their strategy for securing important seed collections. We are strongly committed to managing the Seed Vault in accordance with the highest agreed international standards,” said Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad.

“Every single seed in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds potential solutions for sustainable agriculture. Solutions that are vital for feeding a growing population and achieving a green transition. As the operational manager of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, we are proud to be part of this initiative and to be contributing to reaching SDG target 2.5,” said Lise Lykke Steffensen, Executive Director at NordGen, the Nordic countries’ genebank and knowledge centre for genetic resources.

“As the pace of climate change and biodiversity loss increases, there is new urgency surrounding efforts to save food crops at risk of extinction,” said Stefan Schmitz, Crop Trust Executive Director. “The large scope of today’s seed deposit reflects worldwide concern about the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on food production, but more importantly it demonstrates a growing global commitment – from the institutions and countries that have made deposits today and indeed the world – to the conservation and use of the crop diversity that is crucial for farmers in their efforts to adapt to changing growing conditions,” Mr Schmitz said.

ENDS

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Relevant background information

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Seed Vault is the largest safety backup of the world’s crop diversity. Norway established and owns the Seed Vault. It is managed and operated in a partnership between the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen) and the international organization Crop Trust.  www.seedvault.no/

The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food
The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food is the legal and administrative body of the Seed Vault and has the overall responsibility for its management, security and funding. www.regjeringen.no

NordGen
NordGen manages and operates the seed deposits in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Crop Trust. NordGen is the focal point for depositors, coordinates seed deposits and operates a publicly accessible online database of the deposited seeds. www.nordgen.org

Crop Trust
The Crop Trust works to establish an efficient global system of crop conservation, with the Seed Vault providing the last level of safety duplication of the world’s genebanks. The Crop Trust provides financial support to select gene banks in developing countries for shipment of seeds to the Seed Vault. www.croptrust.org

Statsbygg
Statsbygg is the key adviser on construction and property to the Norwegian Government and is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Seed Vault in accordance with the assignment by the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Statsbygg is responsible for the daily maintenance, security, cooling and energy supply of the Seed Vault as well as for the recent technical upgrades. www.statsbygg.no

SDG Advocates
At a UN Summit in 2015, UN member states agreed on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates were subsequently appointed to mobilize the global community to achieve the SDGs. www.unsdgadvocates.org

The International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
A global agreement to safeguard the plant genetic diversity for food worldwide with currently 146 Member Countries. The Treaty entered into force in 2004 and created the impetus to establish the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Chair of the Governing Body of the International Treaty is also the Chair of the International Advisory Panel of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. www.fao.org/plant-treaty

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