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Global Agricultural Diversity Fortified: Svalbard Seed Vault Welcomes New Deposits and Honors Visionary Leaders.

Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway, 28 May 2024 – The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a bastion of global agricultural diversity, witnessed a significant expansion with the arrival of shipments from four new depositors during its second opening this year. This influx raises the number of seed samples in its care to a staggering 1.29 million, emphasizing its pivotal role in safeguarding crop diversity for future generations. A total of 20,720 seed samples from 15 genebanks around the world have found their sanctuary in the vault, nestled amidst the snow-covered landscape of the remote northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. These seeds, meticulously preserved, hold the key to ensuring the resilience and adaptability of our agricultural systems in the face of looming climate change threats. Upholding Agricultural Resilience The significance of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault transcends its physical existence; it embodies a collective effort to future-proof global agriculture. Scientists and breeders rely on the diverse genetic pool stored within its walls to develop new crop varieties capable of withstanding the ravages of climate change. These seeds serve as a vital backup to collections dispersed across the globe, safeguarding against unforeseen crises such as conflicts, financial instability, or natural disasters. BOLD Initiative: A New Chapter in Conservation Notably, genebanks in Armenia, Benin, and Indonesia have joined the ranks of the Seed Vault’s depositors for the first time, marking a significant milestone in global conservation efforts. This feat was made possible through the support of the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development (BOLD) project, a visionary initiative launched in 2021 with the aim of fortifying food and nutrition security worldwide. Standy Christianto, Program Manager of Indonesia’s Borneo Institute, lauded the instrumental role of BOLD in advancing their conservation endeavors, emphasizing its contribution to preserving genetic diversity for posterity. Strengthening Global Partnerships The recent deposits also underscore the importance of collaborative partnerships in bolstering agricultural resilience. Institutions such as Nigeria’s National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) and organizations like the Crop Trust have played pivotal roles in expanding the Seed Vault’s reach. Through initiatives like the Seeds for Resilience project, funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, these partnerships strive to empower genebanks worldwide in their mission to safeguard crop diversity. Honoring Visionaries: World Food Prize Laureates The Seed Vault’s latest chapter unfolds against the backdrop of global recognition for its visionary architects. Geoffrey Hawtin and Cary Fowler, instrumental in the creation of the Seed Vault, were recently named laureates of the 2024 World Food Prize. Their tireless efforts in preserving and protecting the world’s crop biodiversity have been lauded as exemplary, underscoring the pivotal role of initiatives like the Seed Vault in defending global food security. As the Svalbard Global Seed Vault continues to expand its formidable collection, it stands as a beacon of hope in an increasingly uncertain world. With each new deposit, it reaffirms humanity’s commitment to safeguarding the genetic diversity that underpins our agricultural heritage. In the face of climate change and other existential threats, the Seed Vault remains a symbol of resilience, unity, and foresight, ensuring that the seeds of today will blossom into the sustenance of tomorrow.

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