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Sustainable Development Goals

2.5.1 Number of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in medium or long term conservation facilities

The conservation of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA) in medium or long term conservation facilities (ex situ in genebanks) represents the most trusted means of conserving genetic resources worldwide. This indicator will measure progress towards target 2.5.

By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed.

Impact

The measure of trends in ex situ conserved materials provides an overall assessment of the extent to which we are managing to maintain and/or increase the total genetic diversity available for future use and thus protect it from any permanent loss of genetic diversity which may occur on-farm and in the natural habitat. 

This information is key to support the livelihood of the world's population with sufficient, diverse and nutritious diets long into the future. 

Key results

Dynamics of acquisitions in ex situ genebanks based on the accessions’ acquisition date reported in 2016 and proportion of wild materials out of the total plant holdings during 2006-2016

Dynamics of acquisitions in ex situ genebanks, SDG Indicator 2.5.1

Plant component

As of the end of 2016, seeds and other planting materials of 4.7 million accessions of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, including farmers’ varieties/landraces, improved cultivars and crop wild relatives (CWR), were conserved in 601 genebanks of 82 countries and 14 regional and international centres. Compared to 2014, this represents a 2% growth in overall genebank accessions and increases of 1.6% and 3.4% for distinct genera and species, respectively.

Increases occurred in all the regions, with the highest in accessions being in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Oceania and the Central Asia and Southern Asia regions. Over the past 11 years, the rate of increase of ex situ holdings has slowed down (Figure). This may indicate that the coverage of the diversity of major crops in genebanks is nearing completion. However, significant scope for safeguarding CWR and enhancing the required national capacities still remains especially as natural habitats of CWR are increasingly under threat.

Animal genetic material

As for animal genetic material, based on information from 128 countries, genetic material is cryoconserved for only 15 percent of national breed populations. Only for 7 percent of populations is the quantity of stored material sufficient to reconstitute the population. This suggests that in terms of maintaining animal genetic diversity, urgent efforts are needed to achieve target 2.5 by the year 2020.

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