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About the Project

BOLD (Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development) is a 10-year project to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide by supporting the conservation and use of crop diversity.

Funded by the Government of Norway and launched in 2021, it builds on the work and achievements of the decade-long Crop Trust-led Crop Wild Relatives Project, also funded by Norway, and complements the recently completed Templeton Pre-Breeding Project and the ongoing Seeds for Resilience Project, the latter funded by the Federal Government of Germany (BMZ), through the German Development Bank (KfW). The Project is led by the Crop Trust in close partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The challenge

The world’s climate is becoming increasingly extreme and unpredictable. Global temperatures soar, droughts are increasingly frequent and severe, and pests and diseases are emerging in areas where they were not found before. These changes present crops and the farmers who grow them with new challenges.

These challenges are combining to destabilize agricultural yields and change where and how our current crops can be grown successfully. All this at a time when the world’s population is 8 billion people and more than 820 million people are affected by hunger, with the number increasing rapidly.

A BOLD solution

More resilient crops, robust agricultural production systems and diets that are better for people and the planet – all of these start with crop diversity.

Genebanks are central to the conservation of crop diversity, but conservation alone is not sufficient. We have to make sure that all those who can use that diversity – farmers, plant breeders, seed producers and the like – know what diversity is available, where and how to access it, and have the skills and knowledge to put it to use. This includes pre-breeding where breeders  – and even farmers in some cases  –  make the initial crosses between distantly related plants and their domesticated relatives to introduce new beneficial diversity. We must put in place mechanisms to strengthen the connection between genebanks and others involved in seed systems to make sure that farmers and plant breeders have access to the crop diversity they need.

The BOLD Project addresses all these aspects, from strengthening the conservation and safely backing up germplasm, through participatory breeding and evaluation to engagement with key audiences to raise awareness of the importance of crop diversity to our future food and nutrition security.

Areas of work

The project has five main areas of work:

BOLD Project expected outcomes

The BOLD Project is designed to deliver four outcomes that, together, will address the key dual challenges of ensuring the conservation of crop diversity in genebanks, and making sure crop diversity reaches farmers:

1

Genebanks effectively manage crop diversity for long-term use by farmers, breeders and other users, and their collections are duplicated for safety.

2

Genebanks facilitate the use of new crop diversity by breeders and farmers in the development of advanced lines with novel traits.

3

Genebanks strengthen their linkages with others involved in delivering seed to farmers through technical and institutional innovations which enhance access to crop diversity.

4

Genebanks proactively engage with government institutions, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders to advocate for financial, legal, technical and institutional support for crop diversity conservation.

The Project contributes directly to Target 2.5 of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 to “maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.”

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