International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Message from the Secretary


The Treaty Turns 20! 

This year, the International Treaty celebrates 20 years of its entry into force, and I use the opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of our Contracting Parties and stakeholders for your unwavering commitment and contributions. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Treaty, one cannot but reflect on the profound impact this treaty has had on global food security and biodiversity conservation.

Our collective efforts, over the past two decades, have ensured the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources, contributing to global food security and increasing the profile of agricultural biodiversity. The Treaty's emphasis on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of these resources underscores its commitment to supporting farmers who are the timeless custodians of crop diversity, particularly in developing countries.

The Treaty came into force remarkably swiftly, precisely on 29 June 2004, just three years after being adopted by the FAO Conference in 2001. This rapid ratification was indicative of the critical importance and the urgent global need to address issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Those needs and objectives are as relevant today as they were 20 years ago, if not more so. The conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of PGRFA is particularly critical in the context of current rapid technological advancements and global challenges, be they of climate change, biodiversity loss, or feeding a growing global population.

The Treaty’s position as a key instrument needed to address past, current and future challenges is evident by the collective recognition by the international community of the essential role PGRFA play in ensuring food security and the necessity of a coordinated effort to protect, share and utilize them sustainably. Ensuring that our global food basket can continue to provide the food and nutrition required for humanity remains a central mission as we examine ways to further strengthen the Multilateral System that provides the largest global exchange mechanism for germplasm of the plants that feed us all.

Reflecting on our journey so far, we have made significant strides in enhancing international collaboration and equitable sharing of benefits, paving the way for innovative agricultural practices and strengthening the livelihoods of farmers worldwide. As we look to the future, let us renew our dedication to upholding the principles of the Treaty, embracing emerging challenges and opportunities with the same spirit of cooperation and determination that has brought us this far. Together, we can ensure that the rich diversity of our plant genetic resources continues to flourish for generations to come, and the International Treaty continues to be a cornerstone in building a resilient and equitable global food system. Let us continue this vital work together, driving forward our shared vision for a resilient and sustainable future.

The celebration of the International Treaty’s 20th anniversary is not just a milestone, but a reaffirmation of our collective responsibility to “save, share, and take care of the seeds that feed the world.”





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