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Historically, long before the civil society started to question companies and brands concerning their impact on the environment and the social welfare of their employees and communities, GIs products have been sensitive to issues such as gender equality, decent work, climate and environmental degradation. First of all, with respect to environmental issues, such products cannot switch production elsewhere, as “delocalisation” is not compatible with the scheme itself. Resources and natural capital in a given geographical area must be conserved for GIs to continue to exist and thrive in the long term. This is why several quality products deeply rooted in a given geographical, while adapting to consumer tastes, have been in existence for centuries. Moreover, from a social and economic perspective, GIs products are an integral part of their communities. Their ability to generate and fairly distribute value for all relevant stakeholders along the chain is a key factor in their success. This is achieved through a “local value chain governance” which allows relevant stakeholders to be represented within structures such as “consejo reguladores”, “associations interprofessionnelles”, “consorzi”, etc. In this respect, local stakeholders are in a privileged position to develop alliances in their respective territories, creating the appropriate environment for collaboration between economic actors, regulators and local authorities. For all these reasons, quality products deeply rooted in a given geographical area, which have obtained GI recognition or are working towards it, are in a strategic position to respond to the sustainability challenges of our time, and even represent a model for other economic sectors embarking on such a process. This does not mean that they are sustainable by definition. But the fact that value chains coordinate in their territories to preserve and promote local resources is poised to generate sustainability pathways.

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