ANNUAL REPORT 2020
Rising to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world
Diversity safety duplicated+82K
Diversity data generated13
Grants provided for conservationUSD 30.9M
Contributions to future diversityUSD 17.9M
Diversity conserved736 K
Countries receiving samples78
Sir Peter Crane – Executive Board Chair, Crop Trust
When we look back over the achievements and challenges of 2020, we cannot ignore the profound and ongoing effect of COVID-19. As this crisis demonstrates, humanity cannot afford to become complacent.
Stefan Schmitz – Executive Director, Crop Trust
No aspect of the Crop Trust’s work in 2020 was left untouched by the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What we did
A Decade of Wild Genetic Diversity
We’re already seeing the CWR Project’s benefits for smallholder and subsistence farmers. In China, Kazakhstan and Chile, for example, fields are flourishing with drought-tolerant varieties of alfalfa.
At the Cutting Edge of Pre-breeding
This project is using exciting new methods and tools, like speed breeding and genomics, to revolutionize the breeding of improved varieties of neglected crops, which will get climate-smart crops into the hands of smallholder farmers more quickly.
Delivering CWR-derived Varieties into Farmers’ Hands
Pre-breeding aims to isolate desired genetic traits from crop wild relatives and introduce them into breeding lines that are more readily crossable with modern seeds. Under the Crop Wild Relatives Project, new pre-bred lines are being evaluated under field conditions with breeders and farmers.
What we did
Safer Genebanks Today and Tomorrow
Genebanks faced major challenges in 2020, but, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of genebank staff, collections of crop diversity under the CGIAR Genebank Platform remain safe.
Strengthening Genebanks in Africa
Even amid the immense challenges of pandemic lockdowns, Seeds for Resilience partners enthusiastically embraced the goal of strengthening their operations to safeguard unique crop diversity.
A Growing Bank of Knowledge
Building information systems that truly serve genebank technicians, curators, breeders and researchers is a key aspect of improving the global system for ex situ conservation
Pivoting to Digital-First Communications
All Crop Trust events in 2020 swiftly switched to digital, the team focused on increased outreach through partnerships with high-reach platforms to expand their reach and deliver messages to key audiences and communities. Participation in high-reach digital events increased views and reach substantially and, at the same time, dramatically cut travel and conference expenditures.
To maintain critical activities in 2020 under COVID-19 restrictions, our project partners were forced to take extraordinary measures—with some leaving family to stay on-site at their workplaces, ensuring that vulnerable plant materials and ongoing experiments would be looked after. It is because of these individual and collective sacrifices that project activities were able to continue at all in 2020.
Rising to the Occasion from Home
Shifting to remote work and dealing with rapidly changing COVID-19 restrictions certainly shook us all up—but it has also been a tremendous opportunity to rethink our old processes and mindset so we can continue to evolve as an organization.
Securing Our Food Forever
Funding Crop Diversity in Perpetuity
The Endowment Fund is an exciting idea to provide a sustainable, long-term financing mechanism and make possible the Crop Trust’s important work of safeguarding crop diversity in perpetuity.
In 2020, the Innovative Finance Working Group focused primarily on developing a Food Security Bond (FSB) concept, and a feasibility study on the FSB was carried out.
Looking Ahead: Responsible Investing
The Crop Trust considers integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns into its investment process to be an important part of its investment strategy, and one that supports its broader mission and objectives.
Message from the Chair of the Executive Board
When we look back over the achievements and challenges of 2020, we cannot ignore the profound and ongoing effect of COVID-19.
As this crisis demonstrates, humanity cannot afford to become complacent. It is critical that we take steps now to insure our descendants against future crises—a goal at the heart of the Crop Trust’s mission to safeguard crop diversity.
Given the work highlighted in this annual report, I thank the Crop Trust team with its Executive Director, Stefan Schmitz, and especially our many partners, for their commitment and adaptability, which made that work possible in the face of unprecedented disruption. As a result, the Crop Trust is building on the strong foundations laid during its first 15 years and is well equipped for whatever this new decade brings.
We are also pleased to report that, despite the pandemic, the Endowment Fund continued to generate strong returns in 2020. We extend our immense gratitude to all our donors and funding partners, for your ongoing commitment and dedication to our mission.
This year also saw changes to the Executive Board. We were delighted to welcome our newest members in 2020: Éliane Ubalijoro, Hanne Blåfjelldal, Jean-Christophe Gouache, Masaru Iwanaga and Mercedes Araoz. We are also delighted that Bernard Lehmann and Joachim von Braun have joined the Executive Board from January 2021.
We also said farewell to two members this year: Alexander Müller and Knut Storberget, who both joined the Executive Board in 2015. We are deeply grateful for their dedicated service to the Crop Trust, and thank them for their invaluable guidance and commitment over the last five years. We wish them the very best in their next ventures.
In 2020, the world experienced enormous changes, of which we are yet to understand the full long-term effects, particularly on the ever-deepening, interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security.
But one thing remains unchanged, and clear: the importance of the Crop Trust’s mission. I would like to take this opportunity to not only acknowledge, but to celebrate, the dedication of all those involved in that work – from Crop Trust staff to our many partners all over the world. Thank you all. Our mandate has never been more important.
Peter Crane, Chair of the Executive Board