Diversity for Resilient Food Systems

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust)

Time: Friday, 20. January 2023, 09:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Room: M2-M3

Languages: English, German


The expert panel featured a keynote speech held by Dr. Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, and a panel discussion with Lawrence Haddad (GAIN), Brent Loken (WWF), Sharon Cittone (Edible Planet Ventures) and Jaspreet Stamm (Crop Trust).

In his keynote, Dr. Schmitz outlined the importance of crop diversity in adapting to changing environments, increasing crop yields and quality, and helping farmers control pests and diseases. Dr. Schmitz’s recommendations for food systems transformation included recognizing crop diversity as a global common good, building a global system for conservation, providing more substantial financial support, strengthening links between genebanks and researchers and increasing the use of neglected crops.

In the discussion, the panelists agreed on an urgent need to start pivoting from the optimization of the agricultural system to the diversity of solutions available for transforming food systems in different parts of the world. They highlighted the importance of place-based strategies and innovations and the power young people could bring into the mindset shift needed for food system transformation. Due to the diverse solutions available, a higher level of collaboration between actors is also necessary.

The session concluded with a Q&A that focused on the role of the private sector in supporting more diverse farming practices and the importance of collaboration between multiple stakeholders for successful food systems transformation.

Keynote speaker

Stefan Schmitz joined the Crop Trust as Executive Director in January 2020.
He previously worked as Deputy Director-General and Commissioner for the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He also chaired the Steering Committee of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).
For more than 10 years, Stefan was leading the food security, agriculture and rural development work at BMZ. From 2007 until 2009 he worked as senior advisor to the Secretariat of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Before joining the BMZ in 2001, Stefan held various posts in the German federal administration in the fields of geographical information systems, regional planning and international cooperation on urban issues.
He received scholarships of the McCloy Fellowship of the American Council on Germany and of the German Academic Exchange Service. After studying in Bonn and St. Andrews, he graduated from Bonn University in geography and mathematics and received a doctorate in geosciences from the Free University of Berlin in 2000.

Panel Guests

Sharon has been at the forefront of building and growing the global food and agtech ecosystem for the better part of a decade. Her work with start-ups, corporations, investors, policymakers, institutions and youth landed her the title of one of Forbes’ most powerful women shaping the future of food. She is the Founder & CEO of Edible Planet Ventures, a systemic platform that aims to reshape our food system by convening leading voices and visionaries to collaborate and innovate around the most pressing challenges of today. Sharon is active in several other roles. She currently is a Founding Board Member of the AgrifoodTech Italia Association, is on the advisory committee of Trueinvestor and two funds, is part of the United for Regeneration-Now Partners team, sits on the Advisory Board of the World Food Programme Italia, and is a mentor for both Rockstart Agrifood and the FoodTech Accelerator. Furthermore, she is also Global Chair for Food Innovation for the G100, a group of global leaders all joined in a pact of purpose to create massive opportunities for women worldwide.

Dr Lawrence Haddad is GAIN’s Executive Director since 2016. From September 2020 and up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit that took place on 23 September 2021, Lawrence chaired Action Track 1: Ensuring Access to Safe and Nutritious Food for All. Lawrence is also the co-convener of the Standing Together for Nutrition. Prior to GAIN, Lawrence was lead author of the Global Nutrition Report, Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and Director of the Food Consumption and Nutrition Division at IFPRI. He is the winner of the 2018 World Food Prize together with David Nabarro.

Brent Loken is the Global Food Lead Scientist for WWF. In his role, Brent provides thought leadership through forward-looking research, science direction for goal setting, scientific analysis in support of strategy development, and the management of internal and external science talent to support the Global Food Practice team in advancing an ambitious agenda.
Previously, Brent worked for EAT, the science-based global platform for food system transformation, where he was a lead author on the EAT-Lancet report on Food, Planet, and Health. His past research includes a variety of publications ranging from subjects on food and health to orangutan terrestriality and tropical forest governance.
His current work includes a report on food consumption patterns in G20 countries and the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a series of papers that develop national-level roadmaps on GHG mitigation potential from changes in food and agriculture, and an analysis on how sustainable logging in a tropical forest impacts biodiversity.
In addition, Brent co-founded and helped lead a progressive international school and co-founded a conservation NGO that focused on protecting rainforests and biodiversity by empowering indigenous peoples. Rarely patient, Brent believes to achieve the SDGs and Paris Agreement in the short time that is available it will be because of fast-moving and innovative organizations and people that disrupt the status quo and actively show the world a more healthy and sustainable way of living in harmony with nature.
As part of Global Science, Brent is bridging the technical and conservation practice worlds, synthesizing information from a wide range of food, agriculture, nutrition, and environment disciplines for their creative application to the global nature agenda.

Sonja Vermeulen is Managing Director of Genetic Innovation, CGIAR. She has served as Director of Programs at the CGIAR System Organization since 2019, coordinating the delivery of the CGIAR Research Programs and Platforms, and the development of the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy. She previously held posts as WWF’s Global Food Lead Scientist, Head of Research at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS),  Director of the Programme on Business and Sustainable Development at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and Research Fellow at the University of Zimbabwe. She is an Associate Fellow at the Sustainability Accelerator at Chatham House in London and served as a Commissioner on the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Sustainable Diets. She holds a BA and MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Tropical Resource Ecology from the University of Zimbabwe, and a PhD in Population Biology from Imperial College London.


Jaspreet is the Innovative Finance Lead at the Crop Trust. In this role she is exploring new ways to mobilize public and private funding to support crop diversity and enhance resilience of food systems globally. She brings 15+ years of experience in impact investing and multilateral development finance, including the development of impact funds focused on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Jaspreet holds an MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics.

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