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.
Pivoting to Digital-First Communications
Online, on brand, on target
The Crop Trust’s Communications Unit was restructured in 2020, complete with a comprehensive digital-first strategy, new processes and policies, and two new staff members. All Crop Trust events swiftly switched to digital, the team focused on increased outreach through partnerships with high-reach platforms to expand their own 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 expenditure, resulting in a high return on investment.
The changes reaped benefits. Through leveraging partner platforms, the Executive Director’s editorials, speeches and blogs attracted more than 20 times as many views as before.
The Crop Trust became the 29th Charter Member of Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in June 2020, and subsequently participated in major GLF global events, reaching thousands of people worldwide.
The Communications Unit looks forward to increased social media campaigning capacity in 2021, to a new institutional website, and to an ever-expanding, comprehensive roster of consultants to enable the Crop Trust to respond to the global news cycle and engage audiences and communities with clear messaging in pursuit of achieving the Crop Trust mission.
Food Forever Global Exhibition for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Crop Trust and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) collaborated to transform the Food Forever Global Exhibition for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh into a fully digital exhibit
GLF Live with Tony Simons, Charlotte Lusty, Lava Kumar and Vania Azevedo
The Crop Trust hosted a “GLF Live” event on COVID-19 and its impact on genebanks on the Global Landscapes Forum’s digital platform
The Crop Trust became the 29th Charter Member of Global Landscapes Forum
The Crop Trust participated in the Global Landscapes Forum Bonn Digital Conference, at which Executive Director Stefan Schmitz delivered a plenary speech to thousands
Pocono Organics Food Forever Experience
The Food Forever Initiative co-hosted the Pocono Organics Food Forever Experience, where Crop Trust Executive Director Stefan Schmitz and Crop Trust Board Chair Peter Crane delivered plenary speeches
Chatham House Dialogue
Genebank Platform staff led the Chatham House Dialogue on the future of genebanks
The Crop Trust and the Food Forever Initiative hosted three live sessions and three ‘lightning talks’ at the Global Landscapes Forum Biodiversity Digital Conference “One World, One Health”, at which Executive Director Stefan Schmitz delivered a ‘Thought Leaders’ address to thousands
FP Virtual Summit: Food+
The Crop Trust co-hosted the second Food+ Summit in collaboration with Foreign Policy magazine, where Executive Director Stefan Schmitz participated in a plenary panel