International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Message from the Secretary


We enter 2023 acutely aware of the fact that our world is still facing multiple challenges and hazards. Nevertheless, we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic, and even celebrate. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic still persists, and still poses major health and economic threats, there is reason for hope. Even though many places are and continue to be besieged by tragedy, conflict, losses and inequalities, and the impacts of biodiversity loss and climate disasters still abound, there is reason for hope.

The last two years have felt like a virtual reality, where science fiction became “real” life and human interaction was only possible from within the safety of our isolation bubbles through our computer screens. And yet, 2022 will also be remembered for humanity’s gradual return to the real world and the recommencement of in-person interactions.

For the International Treaty, the return to relative normalcy culminated in the Ninth Session of the Governing Body (GB-9)[1] of the International Treaty, which was graciously hosted by the Government of India in New Delhi, and brought together over 600 participants, mostly in person.

GB-9 concluded with a number of noteworthy outcomes, including unanimous agreement on the way forward on key Treaty issues, such as restarting discussions on the enhancement of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing (MLS), the further development of the Global Information System (GLIS), the realization of Farmers’ Rights (FRs), and the continuation of working closely with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), particularly vis-à-vis the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), that was subsequently adopted by the CBD COP-15[2] in December 2022, and on digital sequencing information (DSI) .

Indeed, 2023 promises to be an exceptionally busy one with the decision to convene the next Governing Body session, GB-10, in mid-November 2023, in order to reset to the normal 2- year cycle of the GB and to bring it back into alignment with the regular cycles of the FAO Conference.

The Secretariat staff are already busy with the year’s work plans and planning numerous meetings and related activities, including the Standing Committee on the Funding Strategy, the Working Group on the Enhancement of the MLS, finalization of the Fifth Cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund (BSF-5), the Ad Hoc Technical Committee on Conservation and Sustainable Use (ACSU), the Compliance Committee, the GLIS Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), in addition to the Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights in India and, of course, preparations for the Tenth Session of the Governing Body (GB-10).

We are here, working and looking forward to interacting with you, our International Treaty community, for the common good of all in what we hope will be a productive new year of saving, sharing and taking care of the seeds and other plant materials that feed the world.


Yours sincerely,


[1] GB-9 was hosted by the Indian Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare at the Pullman Aerocity in New Delhi, India, from 18-24 September 2022, and was preceded by two days of regional and inter-regional consultations and a Special Event “Celebrating Farmers as Guardians of Crop Diversity.”

[2] COP-15 was hosted by China and Canada in Montreal, Canada, from 07-19 December 2022, and concluded with the adoption of the GBF and other agreements.

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