One year celebration of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

On Feb. 26 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened its doors, and one of the world’s most fascinating and ambitious projects to conserve the future of our food supply was underway. To huge media attention, over 100 thousands seeds were placed in the Vault that day, since joined by another 300 thousands. 

Photo: Mari Tefre

Photo: Mari Tefre

The first anniversary event will take place at The University Centre (UNIS) in Longyearbyen, Svalbard on Feb. 25, 2009. To mark the anniversary, international researchers and geneticists are gathering on Svalbard for the seminar “Frozen Seeds in a Frozen Mountain – Feeding a Warming World”.

The Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lars Peder Brekk, will officially open the three-day seminar, which will focus on food, the climate and genetic diversity. The delegates will be from all over he world. e.g, representatives of the different gene banks and the UN. Speakers will include David Battisti, Professor M.S Swaminathan and Cary Fowler, head of the UN’s Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in the permafrost in the mountains of Svalbard, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe. Many of these collections are in developing countries. If seeds are lost, e.g. as a result of natural disasters, war or simply a lack of resources, the seed collections may be reestablished using seeds from Svalbard.

Norway formally owns the seed vault, with Ministry of Agriculture and Food (LMD) as the responsible authority. Nordic Genetic Resource Centre is responsible for scientific operation, whilst Statsbygg operates the technical plant. Construction has cost almost NOK 50 million and has been entirely financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD), LMD and Ministry of the Environment (MD). The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) has also been brought in as an active partner and will finance a substantial amount of the annual operating costs of the vault. The other operating costs will be financed by the government, through LMD. GCDT is also helping to secure operations by assisting developing countries in the packing and despatch of seed samples to Svalbard.

For more information visit: Ministry of Agriculture and Food

To watch the movie from the big opening day, click here.

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