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Crop diversity expert Dr. Cary Fowler appointed Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust
Rome, Italy
April, 2005

The executive body of the Global Crop Diversity Trust - the Interim Panel of Eminent Experts - announced today the appointment of Dr Cary Fowler as the Trust’s Executive Director. Dr Fowler replaces Dr Geoffrey Hawtin who has led the initiative to establish the Trust since 2000.

“I am delighted to welcome Cary Fowler to the leadership of the Trust,” said Ambassador Fernando Gerbasi, Chair of the Interim Panel. ‘His knowledge and experience of both genetic resources policy and institutions make him a superb choice for the position. He has a clear and ambitious vision for the future of the Trust that we find very exciting.”

Cary Fowler is an American national who has devoted the last 30 years of his career to the conservation and use of crop diversity. He was formerly Program Director for the Rural Advancement Fund, a US-based NGO engaged in plant genetic resources education and advocacy. Dr Fowler led the secretariat of the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which resulted in FAO’s first ever global assessment of the state of the world’s plant genetic resources and the adoption of the Global Plan of Action for crop diversity conservation and use by 150 countries at an international conference at Leipzig in 1996.

Dr Fowler comes to the Trust from Norway where he is a Professor and Director of Research in the Department for International Environment & Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He is also a Senior Advisor to the Director General of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. In this latter role, he represented the Future Harvest Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research in negotiations on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. The Future Harvest Centres hold the most important international collections of crop diversity in trust for the world community. Dr. Fowler is the author of several books on the subject of plant genetic resources and more than 75 articles on the topic in agriculture, law, development and social science journals.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust aims to match the long term nature of conservation needs with long term secure and sustainable funding. At its centre will be an endowment that will provide a permanent source of funding for crop diversity collections around the world. The Trust will help salvage the world’s most important crop collections and guarantee their ongoing healthy and safe conservation. A further goal of the Trust is to assist the development of a rational and efficient global system of crop diversity conservation. To achieve these goals, the Trust seeks to raise an endowment of $260 million and additional funds to provide upgrading and capacity building to particularly needy genebanks.

The campaign to establish the Trust has involved an historic partnership of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the 15 Future Harvest Centres. It is an unprecedented response to global development priorities, addressing two of the Millennium Development Goals (Goal 1—to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and Goal 7—to ensure environmental sustainability). The Trust also directly addresses the priority of the G8 Action Plan on Science and Development to support efforts to ensure funding for crop diversity conservation.

“The work of the Trust is immensely important,” said Dr Fowler. “Its goals are ambitious - to ensure the efficient and effective conservation of the world’s most important collections of crop diversity through the instrument of a $260 million endowment. The Trust has made a wonderful start, in large part due to the inspirational and tireless leadership of Geoff Hawtin. I am thrilled and honoured to have been appointed to succeed him as Executive Director of the Trust. With continued strong support from our donors and friends all over the world, I am certain that the Trust will make a major contribution to feeding the hungry, now and far into the future. “

Cary Fowler will take over the position of Executive Director on 1 August 2005.

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