Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s mission is to be the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, building an understanding of the world's plants and fungi upon which all our lives depend.

Kew uses the power of its science and the rich diversity of its gardens and collections to provide knowledge, inspiration and understanding of why plants and fungi matter to everyone. Loss of biodiversity, climate change, rapidly-spreading pests and diseases, human population growth and the associated challenges of food security are causing unprecedented stress on human societies around the world. Plants and fungi hold the key to help solve these challenges through the fundamental life-giving processes they drive, the properties they contain, and the materials and food they provide.

Kew and the Sustainable Development Goals

Kew attaches great importance to the SDGs and to the global improvements they will drive; aiming to end poverty and hunger through raising food security, improving nutrition and building more sustainable agriculture.  

Kew’s scientific staff hold fundamental biodiversity knowledge that underpin contributions to the SDGs.  Kew’s research on useful plant species has much to offer in terms of improving food security and livelihoods in some of the poorest communities.

Kew is working on climate resilience of coffee in Ethiopia where 15 million farmers and their families depend on coffee for their livelihoods.  Filling critical knowledge gaps and building collaborative UK/African research strength, Kew will enable greater utilisation of climate-resilient crops like Enset, a relative of the banana.  Yams are also a long-established and important food crop for many communities in South West and West Ethiopia.  Wild and cultivated yam diversity and the associated cultural knowledge need to be preserved for future generations to retain agro-ecosystems that feed communities and may be resilient in the face of conditions caused by climate change. 

In eastern and southern Africa, Kew is working to increase bean yields, which are currently just 20-25% of potential due to lack of pollination and insect pests. Beans are a major source of protein, micronutrients and vitamins to poorest households and the project will therefore improve nutrition. 

Protecting, managing and sustainably using terrestrial ecosystems is integral to much of Kew’s work. through major strategic outputs like Tropical Important Plant Areas at global scale, and projects like Forest Futures Bolivia national or regional scale, that use agroforestry approaches based on locally appropriate tree species to protect and maintain ecosystems that underpin livelihoods.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the world’s largest ex-situ plant conservation programme, aiming to bank seeds from 25% of the world’s plant species by 2020. Through partnerships in more than 80 countries, Kew focuses on banking endangered, endemic and economically valuable species including the wild relatives of crops. They can be used for research, innovation and as the ultimate insurance against species extinction.

Through combined actions on banking endangered seeds and horticultural expertise, Kew is saving species from extinction. Kew’s living collection holds around 1,300 species of conservation interest, including 13 species that are extinct in the wild. Kew’s horticultural teams are experts in growing plants that have never been propagated, working with other botanical gardens around the world to ensure their continued survival.

These projects are examples of the growing realisation that people, biodiversity and sustainable development are inextricably connected. They prove that plant conservation and biodiversity science activities can contribute to human wellbeing through the enhancement of food security and human health, the improvement of community livelihoods, and the strengthening of the capacity of people to face environmental changes.

Kew’s ability to contribute to achieving the SDGs, above all else, is based on being a unique plant and fungal knowledge resource that the world can draw on.

To find out more please contact Sarah Roberts 

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