It’s been 10 years since Norway opened the global seed vault on Svalbard. Agriculture Minister Jon Georg Dale has invited seed depositors and partners from around the world to a “Seed Vault Summit” on Svalbard this weekend, to celebrate the anniversary.
Dale, along with Crop Trust and NordGen, will mark the occasion with panel discussions, meetings and observance of a new seed delivery from 20 international gene banks.
The seed vault on Svalbard was opened in February 2008 by former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (now secretary general of NATO) and Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to plant trees in Africa and restore vegetation. The vault was meant to offer a secure storage vault for seeds deep inside an Arctic mountain on Svalbard’s main island of Spitsbergen.
The goal has been to preserve genetic variation within the world’s plants used for food, and thereby secure that plants providing nourishment are not destroyed by local or global catastrophes. Around 5,000 plant species are currently stored in the vault, including seeds for wheat, rice and beans. The seed vault is closed to the public, but it’s distinctive entrance has become a tourist attraction itself.