– No country can possibly maintain its own food security by itself. We have to all work together, says Christine Dawson, chair of the Governing Body Bureau of the Plant Treaty and also chairing the International Advisory Panel to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. – It’s our task to convince governments that it is really important to have their seeds secured here in the Seed Vault, she continues.

Strengthening the cooperation between the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT) was emphasized at the Governing Body meeting in Kigali in November and in the meeting of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) to the Seed Vault recently held in Longyearbyen.

As being the chair of the IT Bureau, Christine Dawson, representing the US Department of Agriculture, was also invited to chair the IAP meeting. – We have now seen the Vault, we trust the management of the Vault, and it is a very secure place for storing valuable seeds, Dawson says.

An international system for accessing genetic resources

In his talk at the Seed Vault 10 year Summit Kent Nnadozie from the IT secretariat followed up by saying that no country is self-sufficient in genetic resources for Food security. – The Plant Treaty provides an international system for accessing genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the Seed Vault is an important part of this international system, he says.

This was also confirmed in the Kigali meeting in an IT Governing Body resolution (12/2017), which invited contracting parties, international institutions and other relevant bodies to make use of the Seed Vault in their strategies for securing seed collections.

Will act as Seed Vault ambassadors

The meeting in the International Advisory Panel in February also discussed future strategies for seed deposits to the Seed Vault and procedures for establishing deposit agreements with new gene banks. The Panel carried out an inspection at the Seed Vault where the members were informed about the ongoing construction improvements for making the facility even safer in a future experiencing climate change.

In addition to Christine Dawson chairing, the IAP consists of representatives from depositing gene banks; Ahmed Amri, ICARDA in Morocco, Teresita H. Borromeo, The Philippines, Arthur da Silva Mariante, Brazil and Gordana Djuric, Bosnia & Herzegovina. In addition to depositors Ann Tutwiler from Bioversity International in Rome, and Kristin Børresen from the Norwegian plant breeding company Graminor are members of IAP.

In addition to giving advice to the Norwegian Ministry for Agriculture and Food on the management of the Seed Vault, the IAP members will act as ambassadors for the Seed Vault in different national and international fora. Many lectures and media interviews have already been given in different countries.

– The input from the Panel is very useful for the management of the Seed Vault, it provides transparency, and it helps us in the important task to encourage gene banks to secure their genetic resources in the Seed Vault, says NordGen director Lise Lykke Steffensen responsible for the IAP secretariat and also a delegate to the IT Governing body meeting in Kigali in November 2017, where the Seed Vault was presented in a separate side event organized by the Ministry, Crop Trust and NordGen.

 

The International Advisory Panel inspecting the Seed Vault together with the Norwegian Minister for Agriculture and Food Jon Georg Dale (to the left); Gordana Djuric, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen, Christine Dawson, USA, Kristin Børresen, Norway, Teresita H. Borromeo, The Philippines, Ann Tutwiler, Bioversity International, Ahmed Amri, Morocco, Arthur da Silva Mariante, Brazil and Luigi Guarino, Crop Trust.

The International Advisory Panel inspecting the Seed Vault together with the Norwegian Minister for Agriculture and Food Jon Georg Dale (to the left); Gordana Djuric, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen, Christine Dawson, USA, Kristin Børresen, Norway, Teresita H. Borromeo, The Philippines, Ann Tutwiler, Bioversity International, Ahmed Amri, Morocco, Arthur da Silva Mariante, Brazil and Luigi Guarino, Crop Trust.

– No country can possibly maintain its own food security by itself. We have to all work together, says Christine Dawson, chair of the International Advisory Panel to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, here in front of the door leading in to the seed storage in the Vault.