The ECPGR Steering Committee held its sixteenth (mid-term) meeting in Malmö and Alnarp, Sweden, from 7–9 June 2022, gathering National Coordinators from 28 countries and observers from NordGen, the FAO Plant Treaty Secretariat and the European NGOs.
The meeting, hosted by NordGen at its new facilities in Alnarp, evaluated the implementation of the first three years (2019–2021) of ECPGR Phase X, taking stock of possible improvements for the future mode of operation and recognizing the achievements obtained so far, despite the difficulties in organizing meetings and carrying out activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the Committee noted the swift development of the European Evaluation Network (EVA), which established partnerships with over 90 private and public actors, and set up more than 100 evaluation sites across Europe. The EURISCO catalogue made considerable improvements in the quality and quantity of data, including phenotypic data, and launched a new interface with additional and improved features. Thanks to the definition of a data flow mechanism, EURISCO will also soon include data on in situ crop wild relative populations from eight pilot countries in 2022-2023. The countries participating in the Steering Committee unanimously agreed to proceed with a new Phase of ECPGR, starting in 2024, with priority objectives that correspond with the targets of the recently published Plant Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe. High-level priorities were also preliminarily selected and the Secretariat was mandated to renew, for the time being, the hosting arrangements with Bioversity International and prepare a budget to be discussed and approved at the next meeting in 2023.
While ECPGR will maintain its structure of 24 Working Groups (20 crop and 4 thematic), the mode of operation will be more flexible and efficient with the establishment of short-term ad hoc task forces to advance specific efforts. Three task forces will be initially established, aiming at revising the Working Groups terms of reference, identifying opportunities for capacity development and strengthening communication and dissemination of ECPGR achievements.
The mandate of the new Working Group on Cryopreservation was discussed, with a concluding recommendation to develop a concept for the most rational and efficient way to collaboratively conserve under cryopreservation the relevant European material, sharing the task among a suitable number of European cryo facilities.
Special attention was given to the need to support the war-torn National Centre for Plant Genetic Resources of Ukraine. ECPGR, jointly with NordGen (the latter sponsored by the Novo Nordisk Foundation), will provide donations to cover the most urgent needs of staff and essential equipment.
The full report of the meeting as well as the presentations are available at this link