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Genetic resources in the Nordic countries

The diversity and the genetic resources in the Nordic region are of great value, both in cultural and economic terms. The plants and the animals enduring the Nordic climate are indispensable parts of the Nordic identity, together with our cultural landscape and environment. Importantly, they also contain future possibilities of development within farming and forestry.
The Nordic countries have signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a global agreement signed in Rio in 1993 and ratified by most of the countries in the world. The Convention has three main goals including the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

National programmes

Each Nordic country has its own national programme. The coordinators of these programmes participate in NordGen’s working groups and contribute to a high level of exchange of knowledge and competence.
NordGen’s role is to coordinate the work of each country to create an added value, i.e. the countries achieve more together than on their own. Our network with working groups and cooperation gives this added value in the form of competence exchange, coordinated initiatives and a cost efficient role distribution between the national programmes and the Nordic cooperation.
The Nordic countries are therefore able to speak with one strong voice and be at the forefront of the international work on genetic resources within agriculture and food.

International cooperation

NordGen collaborates with gene banks, scientific and breeding centers on a Nordic as well as on a global level. Internationally, we participate in an extensive cooperation within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Bioversity International. We also have the operative responsibility for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Inspired by NordGen’s safety storage in an abandoned mine on Svalbard, the two organizations Biodiversity International and FAO contacted the Norwegian government. This initiative led to the opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2008. The Vault serves as a backup storage facility and its purpose is to store duplicates (backups) of seed samples from the world’s crop collections.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is owned by Norway through the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The operations are regulated in a three party agreement between the Ministry, the Global Crop Diversity Trust who provides support for the ongoing operations of the seed vault, and funding for the preparation and shipment of seeds from developing countries to the seed vault and NordGen.
NordGen is responsible for the daily operations of the seed vault: reception of seeds, storage and agreements with the donors.  NordGen also maintains a database of samples stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR)

ECPGR is a collaborative Programme among 40 European countries, aimed at facilitating the long-term conservation on a cooperative basis and the increased utilization of plant genetic resources in Europe. The Programme, which is entirely financed by the participating countries and is coordinated by a Secretariat at Bioversity International, operates through broadly focused Networks dealing with groups of crops or general themes related to plant genetic resources. ECPGR is guided by a Steering Committee.

The activities in the Network are carried out either in the framework of Working Groups or as ad hoc actions. It consists of six networks comprising 20 crop specific working groups and furthermore there are three thematic networks.

NordGen is an active participant to ECPGR on all levels, the working groups and project.