10/05/2023-Guest contribution: The FAO launched two new publications towards sustainable GIs: a policy brief and guidelines for GI examiners, by Emilie Vandecandelaere, Agribusiness Economist, FAO

Since 2007, FAO has been applying a comprehensive approach to support the development of sustainable geographical indications, with the scope of its work ranging from local value chains to national institutional frameworks.

Based on the lessons learned from technical assistance projects, consultations with stakeholders across the globe and scientific expertise, FAO has identified a number of best practices to ensure that geographical indications contribute to the development of sustainable food systems. This policy guidance brief highlights the importance of endogenous projects that put local producers at the centre of geographical indication processes (with support from public authorities and experts), as well as of specifications that promote the preservation of local resources. The brief advocates an approach that requires public institutions to play an important, possibly new role in the development of geographical indications, and provides helpful recommendations to this end.

You can read here the brief “Using geographical indications to improve sustainability. Lessons learned from 15 years of FAO work on GI.” 

Field experience in countries where GIs are recognized under a public framework, has also shown the crucial role of public authorities in examining the request for GI registration as this may influence the favorable conditions for GIs to function well and to contribute to sustainable development. The examination of applications not only serves to verify the legitimacy of the GI as an Intellectual property right in terms of the link to the origin but can also influence the GI system’s effectiveness and sustainability performance, in relation with key factors highlighted in the literature such as the clear definition of the specific quality linked to the geographical origin, the local governance, the appropriate marketing strategy.

Building on the fruitful work carried out with public authorities in Latin America in a previous regional project and learning from other experiences in other regions of the world (Europe, eastern Europe, North Africa), FAO has developed recommendations that can be adapted to any national context.

The objective of these guidelines is to provide support to public authorities and experts that examine GI applications, in particular GI specifications. These guidelines provide examples and recommendations related to the procedures for the examination of GI requests. Then they focus on the two types of criteria for the registration: 1) the legal criteria that determine the admissibility for registration (link to origin) and 2) additional criteria that can be considered to help improve the GI system’s sustainability. Finally, the guidelines offer a list of questions to guide examiners along the examination process.

You can read here the guidelines “Promoting sustainability through the registration of geographical indications. Guidelines for public authorities to examine applications.” 

Additionally, FAO and oriGIn will soon release guidance material designed to address the specific needs of GI organizations for improving their economic, social, environmental, and governance performance by creating a sustainability roadmap. This partnership to promote GIs and sustainable development has been in progress since 2017.

Further details on the FAO and oriGIn collaboration can be found on the oriGIn website.

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