In September 2007, a group of experts from the genetic conservation, climate science, agricultural development, and plant genetics and breeding communities met at the Rockefeller Foundation Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, to initiate a discussion about the management of global crop genetic resources in the face of climate change. The underlying focus was on global food security – defined here as the ability of all people at all times to have access to sufficient diets for a healthy and productive life. Much of the discussion therefore centered on malnourished populations, the majority of whom depend to some extent on agriculture for their livelihoods. In particular, attention was directed toward two key regions of food insecurity:
a) South Asia, where the largest number of chronically hungry people live despite impressive technological gains in agriculture during the past 40 years and widespread use of irrigation in some areas; and
b) the African continent, where the incidence of hunger is greatest and where rainfed systems account for over 90% of crop production.
This document is divided into two sections:
a) a brief summary of the material presented at the meeting on climate projections, potential climate impacts on existing
agricultural systems, and seed collections and evaluation; and
b) the collective views on priorities and actions needed to conserve crop genetic resources into the long-run future
and to evaluate these resources for use in breeding. The main target audience is the Global Crop Diversity Trust, whose mission is to ensure the conservation and availability of global crop diversity in perpetuity in gene banks throughout the world, including the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway).