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.
Looking Ahead: Responsible Investing
“In this period of reduced overseas development aid and declining grants from governments, it has become necessary and urgent for the Crop Trust to explore new ways to engage a broader group of public and private donors in helping us reach our USD 850 million target.”-Janet Muir, Crop Trust Director of Finance
Investing in the future
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. As a responsible asset owner, the Crop Trust believes responsible and sustainable investment and good financial stewardship will enhance the long-term performance of the Endowment Fund. Responsible investing aligns well with our mission to generate returns that can continue to support crop conversation and use for future generations.
The Crop Trust is a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (UNPRI), an initiative that includes an international network of investors working together to put responsible investment into practice. As part of its commitment to the UNPRI, the Crop Trust is committed to undertaking annual UNPRI reporting, the results of which are publicly disclosed.
In line with the Crop Trust’s commitment to environmental stewardship, we support the Paris Agreement, enacted in 2016, which commits all parties to adhere to nationally determined long-term strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Towards an ESG Strategy
The Crop Trust is working with its investment managers to further develop its ESG Strategy and better integrate social factors, environmental concerns (such as climate change effects and net zero emissions), good stewardship and other such considerations to meet investment objectives.
The Innovative Finance Working Group (IFWG) was established by the Crop Trust Donors’ Council in June 2018 to review innovative finance mechanisms that could complement official development assistance and government grants in contributing to the Endowment Fund. The IFWG has identified possible solutions to provide additional, long-term sustainable funding that could be pursued by the Crop Trust.
In 2020, the IFWG focused primarily on developing a Food Security Bond (FSB) concept, and a feasibility study on the FSB was carried out. The Crop Trust is now in bilateral discussions with potential donors to move this initiative forward.