Global Crop Diversity Trust
Global Crop Diversity Trust is an independent international organization which exists to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. It was established through a partnership between the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) acting through Bioversity International.
In 2006, the Trust entered into a Relationship Agreement with the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Agreement recognizes the Trust as an "essential element" of the Treaty's funding strategy in regards to the ex situ conservation and availability of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. It also confirms the autonomy of the Trust as a scientific organization in raising and disbursing funds.
The Trust is assembling an endowment (trust) fund, the income from which will be used to support the conservation of distinct and important crop diversity, in perpetuity, through existing institutions. Crop diversity is the biological foundation of agriculture, and is the raw material plant breeders and farmers use to adapt crop varieties to pests and diseases. In the future, this crop diversity will play a central role in helping agriculture adjust to climate change and adapt to water and energy constraints.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust has its offices at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN in Bonn, Germany. The executive board is chaired by Margaret Catley-Carlson (Canada), Chair of the Global Water Partnership, and the International Advisory Committee for Group Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux and the Vice chair was the late Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. The Trust also has a Donors' Council, chaired by Peter Waddell-Wood (Australia). The organization has raised approximately $150 million. Main donors include: Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S., and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (Australia). A number of developing countries have also provided support, including Ethiopia and India. And, contributions have been received from several private corporations and foundations.
Since its establishment the Trust has funded work in over 80 countries, and made its first grant for long-term conservation of a collection in late 2006. By 2011, the Trust has established in-perpetuity support (i.e. grants funded through the Trust's endowment) for collections of 15 crops: rice, cassava, wheat, barley, faba bean, pearl millet, maize, forages, banana, aroids, grass pea, sorghum, yam and lentil.
In 2007, the Trust began a global initiative to rescue threatened, high-priority collections of crop diversity in developing countries and to support information systems to improve their conservation and availability. These efforts included providing support to developing countries and international agricultural research centers to deposit shipments of seed samples in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault for safety duplication purposes.
In 2010, the Trust launched a global 10-year program to find, gather, catalog and save the wild relatives of 22 major food crops. These wild species contain untapped diversity to help address future challenges to agriculture.
The Trust does not accept unsolicited applications for funding.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Trust is involved with the Government of Norway and the Nordic Gene Bank in the establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a "fail-safe" facility located at Svalbard, Norway. This facility provides a safety back-up for existing genebank collections, which are vulnerable to war, civil strife, natural disasters and even to equipment failure and mismanagement. The Vault has also been touted as providing a means for restoring agriculture in the event of a global catastrophe of some sort. It is designed to hold 4 million samples of different varieties (in the form of seed) of agricultural crops.