Longyearbyen, Norway, 2 September 2009 - Secretary-General's remarks at the Global Seed VaultMinister [of Agriculture and Food, Lars Peder] Brekk, Minister [of the Environment, Erik] Solheim, Governor Sefland, ladies and gentlemen:
It is even much, much colder than in the Arctic! I am frozen? The temperature is minus fifteen degrees!
It is a great experience and a unique opportunity for me to visit the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
It is a great privilege for me and thanks to my gracious Norwegian host, Minister Brekk, for the tour of this one-of-a-kind structure built deep in the Arctic permafrost. And thanks to this, my lips are frozen!
The world faces many daunting challenges today, one of the greatest of which is how to feed a growing world population in the context of climate change. Food security is a top UN priority and I have established a High-Level Task Force on food security in April last year.
This is a very creative initiative to fight for food security in the face of climate change in a much longer term.
The seeds stored here in Svalbard will help us do just that.
They come from virtually every country in the world. They contain the essential characteristics that plant breeders and farmers will need to ensure that crops become climate-ready and even more productive.
Sustainable food production may not begin in this cold Arctic environment, but it does begin by conserving crop diversity.
No country can manage this huge task by itself.
I'm glad that this Seed Vault provides back-up protection for collections held by every country. This is an essential global insurance policy for the international community within the framework of the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
On behalf of the international community I wish to express my gratitude to the Government of Norway, and its partners, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and NordGen, for the remarkable accomplishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
This gift to humanity and symbol of peace will continue to inspire and serve for generations to come. Thank you very much.