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.
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.”-Victoria Sant, Senior Advisor at the Investor Forum and Crop Trust Finance & Investment Committee member
Endowment Fund growth
In 2020, total new contributions to the Endowment Fund of USD 17.9 million were received from donors. The Government of Germany made a contribution of EUR 10.8 million (USD 12.4 million), and the United States Agency for International Development and the Government of India made further donations of USD 5.4 million and USD 0.1 million, respectively.
Thanks to these contributions and an annual net investment return of 13.6% for 2020, the value of the Endowment Fund reached USD 365.5 million by 31 December 2020, compared with USD 312.8 million at the end of 2019. Investment income generated by the fund is used to support genebanks and related programs that conserve crop diversity.
Program activities, including the Crop Wild Relatives Project, the development of crop strategies, the Genebank Platform and the Crop Trust’s long-term grants for the daily work of crop conservation by key genebanks, together with Crop Trust’s operational activities, accounted for a total expenditure of USD 32.8 million in 2020, of which USD 30.9 million was related to programs. Operational expenditures made up 5.7% of total direct expenditures.
Withdrawals of USD 10.7 million from the Endowment Fund in 2020 represented 4% of assets, in line with the approved spending policy. The Executive Board made the decision to withdraw 4% of assets to fund the CGIAR Genebank Platform program commitment for 2020, with any unspent balance to be considered an unrestricted reserve toward the 2021 commitment to the Platform.
To date, over USD 54.4 million (2019: USD 44 million) has been withdrawn from the Endowment Fund to support the core mission of the Crop Trust. Of the USD 10.7 million withdrawn in 2020, USD 6.3 million was allocated for use in 2020 and these funds were used to support the CGIAR genebanks (USD 6.1 million), the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (USD 0.15 million) and to cover a long-term grant to the Pacific Community (USD 0.06 million). The funds withdrawn were supplemented by an additional USD 5.8 million provided for the Genebank Platform by the Government of Germany, the European Commission and the Government of Finland.
The Crop Trust’s financial statements for 2020 were prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards. They were audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft (PwC) with an unqualified audit opinion. PwC has served as the Crop Trust’s external auditor since 2013.
COVID-19 effect on finances
The Endowment Fund is highly diversified and structured for the long term so that it can withstand short-term market volatility, whether positive or negative. In part because of this structure, the COVID-19-related market fluctuations of 2020 did not negatively affect the year’s returns.
Many Crop Trust activities were reduced or delayed last year owing to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, leading to a temporary reduction in operational and program costs for 2020. However, these delayed activities are expected to take place in 2021.