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In 2019, Bioversity International celebrated its 45th anniversary. 

The organization’s focus has changed over time. Early work focused on the emergency conservation of crop genetic resources in genebanks. Successively, our work was devoted to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.

Today, we have joined forces with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to create an Alliance which delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives in a climate crisis.

A continuous evolution, responding to global challenges

  • In 1974, Bioversity International was established as the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) to coordinate an international plant genetic resources programme including emergency collecting missions, and building and expanding national, regional and international genebanks. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) acted as secretariat.
  • In 1991, IBPGR became the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and in January 1994, IPGRI began independent operation as a CGIAR center and at the request of CGIAR, took over the governance and administration of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP).
  • In 2006, IPGRI and INIBAP became a single organization and subsequently changed their operating name to Bioversity International. The new name reflected an expanded vision of its role in the area of agricultural and forest biodiversity and research-for-development activities.
  • In 2020, Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) joined forces to create an Alliance, building on their complementary mandates and long collaboration, to respond to today’s global challenges of poverty, malnutrition, climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss.

Some highlights from 1974 to today

  • 1974 - Started a major effort to collect genetic resources as the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR)
  • 1987 - Initiated a research programme on the conservation and study of plant diversity
  • 1991 - Became the International Plant genetic Resources institute (IPGRI)
  • 1994 - Merged with the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP)
  • 2002 - Founded the Global Crop Diversity Trust together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • 2004 - Served as technical support in negotiations for the International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • 2005 - Started work with partners and smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to conserve and use the African Cherry Tree in a sustainable way
  • 2006 - INIBAP and IPGRI begin working under the name Bioversity International
  • 2006 - 'Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition' initiative launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference
  • 2009 - Developed 'Seeds for Needs' to help farmers adapt to climate change
  • 2012 - Became a co-organizer of the international collaboration 'Landscapes for People, Food and Nature' led by Ecoagriculture Partners
  • 2012 - Launched a new research agenda and strategic priorities
  • 2012 - Contributed to an international effort on sequencing one of the founding genomes of banana
  • 2012 - Co-published 'Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solution for Policy, Research and Action' with FAO
  • 2014 - Refreshed Strategy
  • 2015 - Launched three new research initiatives:
  • 2016 - Started to develop an Agrobiodiversity Index for use by countries and the private sector  to measure and manage agrobiodiversity across three dimensions: diets, production and genetic resources.
  • 2017 - Launched the flagship publication - Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustanable Food Systems: Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index. The book summarizes the most recent evidence on how to use agrobiodiversity to provide nutritious foods through harnessing natural processes.
  • 2018 - Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create an Alliance that delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives.
  • 2019 - The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT launched its first unified Strategy for Accelerated Change, which combines the strengths of the two organizations through a clear focus on working at the nexus of agriculture, environment, and nutrition.
  • 2020 - Since January 2020, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT operates under the leadership of Juan Lucas Restrepo, Director General, and under one Board of Trustees to deliver the unified Strategy for Accelerated Change.

Relevant publications

The Mulino at Maccarese