The World Information and Early Warning System (WIEWS ) on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture (PGRFA), has been established by FAO, as a world-wide dynamic mechanism to foster information exchange among Member Countries,
by gathering and disseminating information on PGRFA, and as an instrument for the periodic
assessment of the State of the World's
PGRFA. This was done in conformity with
Articles 7.1 (e)
and (f) of the International Undertaking on PGR and following the recommendations of the
Commission on PGRFA (now, CGRFA).
In 1997, WIEWS was externally evaluated. The conclusions and recommendations of the reviewing panel
are available in the Progress report
on WIEWS, presented at the Eighth Regular Session of the CGRFA, Rome, 19-23 April 1999.
The Seed Information System (SIS), was initially developed by the Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Service
(AGPS) in the 1970s
as a supporting tool to the seed-exchange activities carried out by the Seed Laboratory of the Service and
to satisfy specific requests for information on varieties and seed suppliers. SIS is currently
being included under the new version of WIEWS.
WIEWS presently consists of:
- a number of relational databases, resulting from direct contributions from Member Countries
and from routinely (e.g. World Seed Review; data gathering from publications; etc.) and
event-related data collating activities (e.g. Country reports for the IV International Technical
Conference on PGR; Regional Meetings; etc.) carried out by AGPS staff;
- a Global Network of
Country Correspondents on PGRFA Information Exchange, officially nominated by the Governments;
- a repository directory of documents and proceedings related to:
WIEWS relational databases
Among WIEWS and SIS relational databases, there are:
Most of these databases are already accessible through this site; the remaining ones are in the
process of being publicly released.
- the Country Profiles database, including the structure of 190 national PGR programmes and
- the Ex-situ Collection database, containing summary records of PGR holdings (more than 5 million
accessions belonging to more than 18,000 species) reported by more than 1,500 national, regional or
- the PGRFA and Seed Laws and Regulations database (70 countries);
World List of Seed Sources database (approx. 8,000 entries from 150 countries); and
- the List of Crop Varieties database (about 65,000 varieties from 1,249 cultivated crops).
Support to the Network on PGRFA Information Exchange
Support to the Network on PGRFA Information Exchange is also an essential part of the activities
for the implementation of WIEWS. In this regard, since 1996,
four regional meetings and one scientific
meeting were held in Poland,
Morocco and the Czech Republic,
respectively. A meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean, to deliver the new web version of WIEWS,
was held in Costa Rica, in November 2001, and an expert consultation meeting on the definition of workable
indicators for monitoring genetic erosion is scheduled to take place during the second part of 2002.
As a follow-up to agreements between International Genetic Resources Networks (e.g. International
Coconut Resources Network, COGENT) and FAO, regarding the placing of genetic resources collections
International Network of Ex Situ Collections under the auspices of FAO, information
management support for enhancing visibility and accessibility to PGR available data at national
genebanks and/or crop-related networks is being provided.
Further Expansion of WIEWS as the Host of the Information Sharing Mechanism on the Implementation of
the Global Plan of Action (GPA)
The WIEWS web application, hosted under the FAO World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) for remote, on-line search, update and report, has been renewed and improved in order to allow a friendlier access and utilisation of the information, as well as to ensure a more efficient Country-WIEWS-Country information flow.
In addition, the scope of the information covered by the System is presently being expanded to
include the Seed Information System and an Early Warning System for Monitoring Plant Genetic
Erosion (presently in a design phase). The integration of information related to PGRFA (mainly,
germplasm holdings and early warning mechanism) and Seed/Crop Varieties, as well as the enhancement
of linkages with existing international, regional and national information repositories on PGR (e.g.
IPGRI; etc.) and on seed related
issues (e.g. OECD;
UPOV; etc.) are intended for delivering to Member
Countries a unique instrument which can contribute to the dynamic assessment of the state of the
world's PGRFA preservation and utilisation and to the definition of PGR and Seed related policies.
WIEWS is also being conceived to become a common repository, among Member Countries, for exchanging
experiences, tracking achievements, highlighting constraints and needs during the GPA
implementation process. In this regard, following the recommendations of the Commission on Genetic Resources (CGRFA), at its Tenth and previous Regular Sessions, WIEWS is hosting an Information Sharing Mechanism on GPA Implementation, made up of National Mechanisms. These are being established by applying a new, participatory and country-led approach for monitoring GPA implementation.