When names like Gates, Rockefeller and Syngenta show up as key players on the same project, I find time to dig a bit deeper. One thing this elite group can not be accused of is a reluctance to make an impact on the world, be it positive or negative. So what could get them all to invest millions of US dollars each? I found out, and it’s fascinating.
High above an icy fjord on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, deep inside a frozen mountain, three concrete chambers are home to our world’s most important natural resources. Situated inside the Arctic Circle, built to withstand global warming, floods, wars and a nuclear catastrophe, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed the ‘doomsday seed bank’ by the BBC, was officially opened on February 26, 2008, and serves as the ultimate safety net for our world’s seeds.
Bill Gates is investing tens of his millions of US dollars in this project, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Norwegian government and many others.
“The history of Svalbard Global Seed Vault starts as early as 1983,” says a Svalbard press release. “Preserving seed from food plants is an absolutely essential part of the work of preserving the world’s biodiversity, adapting to climate change and global warming and thereby ensuring food for the world’s population for the foreseeable future. There are hundreds of gene banks around the world. But some of them are vulnerable to natural disasters, war or the lack of management or finance. The foundation of a global ‘central bank’ for the world’s seeds (primarily of food plants) has therefore long been an issue.”