The Summit highlighted the need for awareness raising on the value of crop diversity and its conservation in seed banks and genebanks among decision makers, farmers, and the general public to enhance incentive structures.
It also stressed the importance of the development of crop varieties with increased resilience to pests, diseases, drought, and salinity, and with improved nutritional characteristics, as well as repatriation initiatives that support in situ conservation, among other issues.
The Global Crop Diversity Summit gathered stakeholders from around the world to reflect on the role of agri-food systems in, and their potential contribution to, achieving multiple SDGs. Participants discussed the role of genebanks, including seed banks, in preserving and restoring crop diversity and explored pathways towards enhanced international cooperation to support genebanks and their sustainable funding.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting notes that the Summit convened amid growing global attention to food systems – and their current weaknesses. ENB highlights the momentum created by the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and its Stocktaking Moment in July 2023, as well as the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in 2022 and recent developments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The ENB report articulates the hope held by many that the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) will further help raise awareness of the interlinkages between climate and food systems through the adoption of a political declaration.
According to ENB, the meeting highlights relate to, among other issues:
- awareness raising on the value of crop diversity and its conservation in seed banks and genebanks among decision makers, farmers, and the general public to enhance incentive structures;
- the development of crop varieties with increased resilience to pests, diseases, drought, and salinity, and with improved nutritional characteristics;
- the creation of safety duplications to back up collections, should individual genebanks be affected by disasters or conflicts, as happened in Syria and Ukraine;
- repatriation initiatives that support in situ conservation;
- capacity-building support for genebanks, including with regard to data management practices and technology; and
- the need to overcome limitations related to project-based funding by providing sustainable funding for the operation of genebanks.
In closing, Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director, Crop Trust, expressed hope that the Summit “managed to contribute to raising the political profile of plant genetic resources and will be the starting point for closer collaboration in the context of a global seed bank partnership.”
The Summit, which took place in Berlin, Germany, on 14 November 2023, was organized by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust) – a non-profit international organization dedicated to conserving crop diversity and making it available for use globally, forever, for the benefit of everyone. [ENB Coverage of Global Crop Diversity Summit]