Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 2.5.1.a - Number of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in medium or long term conservation facilities

The conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture 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.

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.

Number of accessions of plant genetic resources secured in medium- or long-term conservation facilities in the world, 1995-2019


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

At the end of 2018, global holdings of plant genetic materials conserved in genebanks in 99 countries and 17 regional and international centers totaled 5.3 million samples, representing a 1.8 percent increase over the previous year. This increase was mainly due to the movement of existing materials to medium or long term conservation facilities rather than newly added diversity collected from farmers’ fields or the wild.

An increase in the germplasm conserved under medium- or long-term conditions has been observed in 40 countries. Three countries, all from Europe, reported a decline. Germplasm holdings decreased in one international centre and increased in ten others. However only in three of these international collections were the increases due to new acquisitions, 80 percent of which were breeding materials. Increases in two of seven regional collections were the result of regeneration of existing holdings or germplasm transfer from other regions.

About 29.7 percent of the 2018 newly added samples were traditional varieties; 27.0 percent breeding materials; 18.0 percent were sourced from the wild; and 12.3 percent were improved varieties.

At the end of 2018 about 512 thousand samples (+2.8 percent as compared to 2017) from 4.5 thousand species (+2.7 percent as compared to 2017) reported in the IUCN Red List were conserved in 469 genebanks around the world. Germplasm of species in categories of global major concern of the IUCN Red List included 44.5 thousands samples from 1,315 species, including wild relatives of food crops particularly important for global and local food security.

Progress in securing crop diversity continues to be modest, particularly for the associated wild species which either are missing in genebank collections or have their intraspecific diversity poorly represented.

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