Today, March 2, marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The occasion was celebrated by 20 international gene banks by depositing 20,000 new seed samples in the vault in Longyearbyen.
Four of these gene banks are first-time contributors: Benin, North Macedonia, Albania, and Croatia. After today's deposit, there are now 1.2 million seed samples from 100 gene banks from all continents of the world stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The total capacity is 4.5 million seed samples.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault offers a long-term security measure in a world where natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, man-made wars and conflict, and events like long-term power cuts will affect plant diversity and thus future agriculture said the Norwegian Minister for Agriculture and Food Sandra Borch during today's seed deposit.
To ensure that the new seeds were safely deposited, Borch had invited all children aged 15 living in Longyearbyen to assist in the 15th-anniversary deposits. This is not a symbolic act, but a legacy and stewardship of great importance for the world's food security which we pass on to the young and future generations, says Borch.
Karen Ellemann, secretary general of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the organization that finances the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen), and Stefan Schmitz, managing director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust), which supports gene banks worldwide, also joined the celebration.
The world's largest secure reserve repository
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located 78 degrees north of the Equator, is the world's largest secure reserve repository and stores copies of seed samples from almost every country in the world. The seed vault is artificially cooled to minus 18 degrees, and the permafrost and massive rock ensure that the seed samples remain frozen even if the power supply is subject to periodic fluctuations. The seed vault is the ultimate defense in securing the world's food supply. It stores the largest global security reserve of seeds for food and feed crops. These seed samples represent more than 5,000 species.
The seed vault has already proven its worth. The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) originally stored its seed collection in Aleppo, Syria. Now the seed collection has been restored in Morocco and Lebanon with the help of reserve seeds previously deposited in the seed vault. Reconstructing these collections would not have been possible without depositing backup seed samples copies for storage in Svalbard.