Chatham House Dialogue and System Level Review of Genebank Costs and Operations

Crop Diversity for Challenging Times: the Role of Genebanks in Sustainable Development

Chatham House Dialogue


The Chatham House Dialogue comprised three separate sessions that aimed to build a vision of how genebanks can play a fuller and more effective role in helping agriculture meet future challenges. Special attention was paid to the evolving role of the international genebanks managed by the CGIAR. The key findings and recommendations of the dialogue were written up as a brief statement and, together with background documents prepared for the Dialogue, were used as the basis for a System level review of CGIAR genebank costs and operations (GCO review).

Read the Chatham House Dialogue Report here.


The three discussion sessions took place virtually on 21, 22, 23 September.

Session 1 – 21 September

Paper presentation: How may food systems evolve: looking ahead in an uncertain world (Prof Tim Benton, Chatham House)

Breakout session: What are the consequences of the future scenarios for supply of, and demand for, crop diversity?

Session 2 – 22 September

Paper presentation: Scope and roles of the CGIAR genebanks: 2030 vision (Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, GCO Panel member)

Breakout session: Where along the continuum from “freezer to fork” do you think genebanks of the future should focus their efforts for maximum impact? How is it different from what they are doing now?

Session 3 – 23 September

Review of discussions and outcomes of previous two sessions

Breakout session: What should the CGIAR do more of or less of to ensure that the international genebanks remain relevant and effective given the scenarios and need for crop diversity (Session 1) and the view on where they might have maximum impact (Session 2)?


CGIAR-Crop Trust System Level Review of Genebank Costs and Operations


The System-Level Review on Genebank Costs and Operations was undertaken in 2020 by the Crop Trust together with the CGIAR and Plant Treaty. It was underpinned by technical and financial reviews implemented at all 11 CGIAR genebanks during a period from December 2017 to May 2020, as well as a large body of data and reports that emanated from the activities of the Genebanks CRP between 2012-2016 and the CGIAR Genebank Platform since 2017. The review aimed to examine the scope and limits of genebank “essential operations” that must be funded, identify additional priority activities, as well as consider options for the future direction of the CGIAR genebank system and consolidation of activities or collections.


The broad objectives of the GCO review are to:


Read the final GCO report here.