International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Multilateral System

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Seeds conserved in perpetuity for the security of human beings

The world benefits from a safe and secure backup facility for the seeds of plants that feed the worldIn 2008, the Government of Norway established the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, in the Arctic Circle. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault hosts seeds in a secure and controlled environment (-18 degrees Celsius/-0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure future availability, particularly in case of natural or man-made disasters. In simple terms, the Global Seed Vault is the ultimate insurance policy for the world's food supply.

As of September 2021, over 1.1 million seed samples were stored in Svalbard, representing more than 6 000 plant species. 

The Vault receives seeds from voluntary depositors, who still own and control access to the seeds. The so-called ‘black box’ system entails that the depositor is the only one who can withdraw the seeds and open the boxes. For more information on how to make a deposit, including the legal conditions, please consult the Seed Vault's webpage.

In 2007, the Governing Body of the International Treaty endorsed the Global Seed Vault. The Seed Vault only receives seeds that are shared under the Multilateral System or under Article 15 of the International Treaty, or seeds that have originated in the country of the depositor. The Chairperson of the Governing Body serves as the Chairperson of the International Advisory Panel of the Global Seed Vault. The Governing Body has repeatedly encouraged  Contracting Parties to deposit material in the Seed Vault.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is managed by a partnership between the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and FoodNordGen and the Crop Trust, which is an essential element of the International Treaty's Funding Strategy.


  • Seed Vaults Reports to the Governing Body

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