"The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is our insurance policy," Norway‘s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told delegates at the opening ceremony. "It is the ‘Noah’s Ark’ for securing biological diversity for future generations."
The vault will serve as a backup for hundreds of other seed banks worldwide. It has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the world and shield them from man-made and natural disasters.
Dug into the permafrost of the mountain, it has been built to withstand an earthquake or a nuclear strike. Norway owns the vault in Svalbard, a frigid archipelago about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the North Pole. Other countries can deposit seeds without charge and reserve the right to withdraw them upon need.