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The Global Crop Diversity Summit

On 14 November 2023, under the patronage of the German Federal President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Crop Trust and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture convened key stakeholders in crop diversity from around the world at the first-ever Global Crop Diversity Summit.

The Summit marked the first milestone in the implementation of the Crop Trust 2030 Strategic Plan. The main objectives of the Summit were to draw political attention to the risk of losing crop diversity, highlight the great opportunities for using this diversity and emphasize the need for sustainable financing of genebanks. In addition, it aimed to take the first steps towards greater cooperation among genebanks in a Global Genebank Partnership.

Over 250 people attended the event in person and the livestream reached more than 1,500 people. The diverse line-up of speakers represented all regions of the world and included high-level political representatives from Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Norway and the United States, along with numerous panelists from NGOs, UN agencies and other organizations. Youth representatives, chefs and artists further emphasized the diversity of voices and perspectives.

The scientific background paper ‘Empowering genebanks to transform agrifood systems​​​​​', written by ten authors, formed a central basis for informing the debate. This paper underscores the urgent need for transforming agrifood systems to address the global challenges of food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss. The preservation and use of crop diversity, maintained in genebanks, is crucial. Crop diversity, at species and genetic levels, enhances productivity, resilience, sustainability, equity and health in agrifood systems. The paper also emphasizes the importance of empowering genebanks through sustainable funding to drive this transformation and concludes with an urgent call for action in support of genebanks.

A Communique shared at the Summit highlighted the key actions needed to safeguard future food security, which should be prioritized for support by governments and other donors:

  • Greater international cooperation: Working towards a Global Genebank Partnership to facilitate cross-sector collaboration and research.

  • Urgent investment: Ensuring the sustainable operation, maintenance, and expansion of genebanks worldwide.

  • Raising awareness: Establishing an annual Crop Diversity Day to raise awareness of the global importance of this vital resource.

  • Supporting national crop diversity efforts: Championing the importance of crop diversity at a policy level.

The Communique was presented to the 10th Session of the Governing Body of the International Plant Treaty in November 2023 in Rome, where several delegates lauded the event. It was also presented at COP28 in December 2023 in Dubai, where key findings on the importance of crop diversity for mitigation and adaptation to climate change were highlighted.

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