State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

To periodically assess the state of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).

The SoW-Plants includes national, regional and global analysis of the current status and trends of plant genetic resources conservation and use, and analysis of gaps and needs as a basis for global action plans. The themes include the state of plant diversity, the state of in situ management, the state of ex situ conservation, the state of use, the state of national programmes, training needs and legislation, the state of regional and international collaboration. In addition to these states, each report focus on specific emerging themes. For example the Second Report contained a chapter on access to plant genetic resources, the sharing of benefits derived from their utilization and the realization of Farmer's Rights and a chapter on the contribution of PGRFA to food security, and agricultural development.

Mandate for the assessment

The mandate for the preparation of the SoW-Plants is provided by FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). The report is meant to analyze the current plant genetic resources situation, and describe activities and programmes being carried out by regional, international and non-governmental organizations, with the aim of identifying gaps, constraints and emergency situations.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Prepared through a country-driven process under the guidance of CGRFA and its Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on PGRFA

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

With regard to the conceptual framework, the preparation of the SoW-Plants is carried out using a country driven process. It provides a critical analysis of the status and trends in conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA globally, based on information provided through country reports, regional consultations and expert meetings. The reports focuses as far as possible on changes, including gaps and needs, that had arisen since the previous report. An Intergovernmental Working Group on Plant Genetic Resources, established under the Commission, guides the preparation of the SoW-Plants.

System(s) assessed

  • Cultivated/Agricultural land

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Genetic resources


  • Regulation of water quality
  • Erosion prevention
  • Pollination
  • Pest and disease control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Traditional farming systems
  • Traditional crop diversity

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

First report published in 1998, and the second in 2010; Third report due in 2021

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Indicators

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

During the report’s preparation, stakeholder involvement was ensured through a participatory, country-driven process under the guidance of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Guidelines for the preparation of country reports were designed and support was provided where required. Regional consultations and expert consultations are also organized.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

National programmes on plant genetic resources

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Country reports

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Most of the data for the SoW-Plants were provided through country reports, information systems, regional syntheses and thematic background studies. National Information Sharing Mechanisms (NISMs) and country reports were essential for the involvement of Member Countries and their national stakeholders in monitoring the status and trends of PGRFA in their respective countries.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The SoW-Plants is the key assessment process for identifying gaps, constraints and emergency situations in the status of PGRFA, which in turns allow the Commission to recommend priorities activities and update its rolling Global Plan of Action on PGRFA. For example the Second SoW-Plants provided a solid basis for the Second Global Plan of Action for PGRFA that was agreed by the Commission at its Thirteenth Regular Session in July 2011 and endorsed by the FAO Council at its 143rd Session in November 2011

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Concerning policy impact and relevance, the identification of the most significant gaps and needs provides a sound basis for updating a rolling global plan of action for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, containing priority actions for decision makers and policymakers in this field. The preparation of country reports, as a basis for SoW-Plants, is a country-driven process with positive effects on awareness-raising and on capacity-building.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information