Go to content
A wedge-shaped building surrounded by a snowy and mountainous landscape.


Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a backup facility for the world’s crop diversity. By putting seed duplicates for long-term and safe storage in Svalbard, genebanks reduce the risk of losing invaluable genetic material if anything should happen to their original collections. NordGen is responsible for operating the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in cooperation with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the international organization Global Crop Diversity Trust. NordGen’s role in the Seed Vault partnership is to communicate with genebanks, handle seed deposits and update the Seed Portal – a publicly accessible database gathering information about the seeds stored in the Seed Vault.
Seed Vault Openings:
3 (February, June
and October)
Depositing Institutions:
41 (9 for the first time)
Number of seed samples
in the Vault (31/12 2023):
New seed
samples duplicates:
New institutions signing
the deposit agreement:
Number of depositing institutions (31/12 2023):
Two men wearing warm clothes standing behind piles of boxes in a storage room.
Seed boxes and NordGen staff during the February deposit.

Key Activities

New Depositors

Nine genebanks deposited seeds for the first time in 2023.1 The CSIR–PGRRI genebank in Ghana became Seed Vault depositor #100 at the October deposit event.

More Than 70,000 Safety Duplicates

In total 71.895 safety duplicates from 41 depositors were added to the Seed Vault collection in 2023. By the end of the year the total holding of seed accessions in the Seed Vault was 1.267.127 samples deposited by 102 genebanks/institutes. 

15-Year Anniversary

The Seed Vault celebrated its 15-year anniversary in 2023. During the February deposit event, a group of 15-year-olds in Svalbard assisted handling of seed deposits from 20 genebanks and marked the anniversary by placing seeds of modern Graminor cultivars in the glass tube used during the foundation stone laying in 2006. As part of the 15-year anniversary, a virtual tour of the Seed Vault was also published in cooperation with Crop Trust and the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

100-year Seed Experiment

New sets of seed samples to the 100-year seed germination experiment in the Seed Vault have been deployed in the Seed Vault in 2023. By the end of the year, all seed sets have been delivered, except for the last/third sets from one genebank, which are expected to arrive in the second half of 2024.

Nanofilm Securing Information

By the end of 2023, around 70% of seed boxes in the Seed Vault have been equipped with nanofilm labels displaying data on conserved seed samples. Attaching already produced film labels to seed boxes will continue in 2024.
1New Depositors in 2023:
  • Agricultural University of Tirana, Albania
  • National Plant Genebank, Ministry of Agriculture, Croatia
  • Fabia CSB Bogdanci, North-Macedonia
  • Groupe de Recherche, Innovation agricole, Gestion de la biodiversité et Action pour un développement Durable et Equitable à la Base, Benin
  • Institute of Biosciences and BioResources, Italy
  • The Scientific Center of Vegetable and Industrial Crops, Armenia
  • Botanical Garden, University of Bonn, Germany
  • Genetic Resources Research Institute, Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization, Kenya
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute, Ghana
A large group of people standing outdoors infront of a wedge-shaped building, snow is on the ground.
A ceremony marked the 15-year anniversary during the February seed deposit.
The Seed Vault was established in 2008 and is owned by Norway. NordGen is responsible for managing the Seed Vault in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the international organization Crop Trust. The iconic building, safeguards security copies of seeds stored in genebanks and thereby contributes to securing the world’s food supply.
The location of the Seed Vault was chosen due to Svalbard being a remote, cold and safe place, yet easily accessible for shipping and handling. In addition, the Nordic Genebank (now NordGen) stored a backup of the Nordic seed collection here already from 1984, something that inspired to the establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The seed chambers of the Seed Vault are carved out from the solid rock of the Plateau mountain. They offer a frozen environment where artificial cooling keeps the temperature at a constant –18°C and according to FAO’s genebank standards. The ownership of the seeds stored in the Seed Vault remains with the depositing genebank, and only the institution that deposited the seeds are allowed to withdraw them.