Norway’s ‘doomsday’ seed vault named one of world’s 50 most influential projects

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which seeks to protect the world's crops from natural disasters, has been named one of the most important projects in the world over the last 50 years.

Norway’s 'doomsday' seed vault named one of world’s 50 most influential projects
File photo: AFP

The ‘Noah’s Ark’ seed bank is located inside a mountain on Svalbard, a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago.

It takes its place amongst cultural and social milestones such as the Apollo 11 moon landings and the Harry Potter books as one of the 50 most influential projects of the last half century, NRK reports.

The list, compiled by Project Management Institute, selects innovations in technology and health, architecture, finance and entertainment as well as literature.

The Intel processor, the euro, the human genome project, Live Aid, Netflix, Bitcoin, the iPod, Wikipedia and the Atari 2600 are all amongst the diverse top 50.

The World Wide Web was named as the number 1 project on the list, perhaps unsurprisingly.

“It’s very pleasing to see such a special project as the seed vault receive international recognition,” director Harald Nikolaisen of Statsbygg, the government construction and property advisor behind the vault, told NRK.

Launched in 2008 with the aim of providing a “fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters,” the Svalbard facility has 1,059,646 unique crop varieties deposited in its so-called “doomsday vault”.

READ ALSO: Norway's 'Noah's Ark' seed vault chalks up a million crop varieties


Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive

Norway’s National Museum has preserved some of the country’s most treasured artefacts digitally and stored them in a former mine on Arctic archipelago Svalbard.

Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive
Photo: Bartek Luks on Unsplash

The Arctic World Archive was originally constructed in 2017 to “protect the world’s most important cultural relics”, the National Museum said on its website.

The data preservation facility is located on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, not far from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The National Museum has now placed its entire collection of around 400,000 items as digital copies on plastic film rolls, which are to be stored at the Longyearbyen site.

“The dry, cold and low-oxygen air gives optimal conditions for storing digital archives and the film rolls will have a lifetime of around 1,000 years in the archive,” the museum writes. Emissions emitted by the archive are low due to its low energy consumption.

Offline storage of the archives also insures them against cyber attacks, the museum said.

In addition to all data from the National Museum collection database, high-resolution digital images of works by selected artists are included in the archive.

Works to be stored include ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch, ‘Winter Night in the Mountains’ by Harald Sohlberg, the Baldishol Tapestry and Queen Maud’s ball dress.

“At the National Museum we have works from antiquity until today. We work with the same perspective on the future. The collection is not only ours, but also belongs to the generations after us,” National Museum director Karin Hindsbo said via the museum’s website.

“By storing a copy of the entire collection in the Arctic World Archive, we are making sure the art will be safe for many centuries,” Hindsbo added.

In addition to the Norwegian artefacts, organisations from 15 other countries are represented in the archive, including national museums in Mexico, Brazil and India; the Vatican library, Sweden’s Moderna Museet and Unicef.

READ ALSO: Norway's Arctic 'doomsday vault' stocks up on 60,000 more food seeds