FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Geographical indications link tradition and rural development

Geographical indications and appellations of origin as intellectual property instruments have become increasingly recognized in recent decades as tools for quality and rural development. If the place of origin (the terroir) is important when buying wine, why should this aspect be neglected for other food or craft products?

As part of the regional initiative on improving agrifood trade and market integration, FAO convened the second meeting of an informal regional technical network on promoting food quality linked to geographical origin. Representatives of governments, civil society, producer groups, academia, and international organizations working on or having an interest in geographical indications gather in Budapest on 28–29 November to discuss these issues.

The meeting will follow up on the progress of implementing recommendations from the first regional consultation in 2017 and address current challenges faced by authorities and producer groups. Participants will explore the role of geographical indications in helping to advance the global Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goal 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“Geographical indications represent a powerful tool to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through territorial approaches, not only because of their capacity to mobilize jointly public and private sectors, along with the preservation and promotion of the natural and cultural resources involved in the origin-linked product,” said Emilie Vandecandelaere from the nutrition and food system division of FAO, “but also because of their contribution to sustainable food systems for healthy diets through guarantees on quality and promotion of traditional and low-processed food.”

Geographical indications and appellations of origin relate strongly to rural development, investment support, extension, food safety, export promotion, and tourism. Therefore it is important that decision-makers have a wider overview so that the measures they make can actually benefit producers and help them overcome specific challenges. The FAO-supported informal network aims to contribute to informed and targeted decision-making.

As the European Union and its individual member countries have been forerunners in the successful adoption of geographical indications and appellations of origin, their examples, along with those from transition countries, will be presented at the meeting. The programme also includes a field visit to a Hungarian vegetable producer cooperative, freshwater fish farm, and fish breeding facility.

Participants will also learn from good practices on preparing relevant specifications and mobilizing producers, control and certification, and consumer awareness. Discussions will centre around the current situation and future challenges. Finally, the dissemination of practical experiences and proven solutions will facilitate common approaches and collaboration at regional and subregional levels.

In many countries of Europe and Central Asia, FAO actively supports national authorities and producers on geographical indications and appellations of origin. A number of projects have been implemented in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Croatia, Georgia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and elsewhere.

“The FAO approach is to provide technical assistance to competent national bodies and actors of labels of origin value chains in defining and implementing sustainable geographical indications,” said Dmitry Zvyagintsev, FAO policy officer.

“Specifically, we build capacity and provide the necessary inputs to empower partners to prepare technical specifications and internal procedures for review and registration of applications, develop marketing strategies, and create guidelines and training for government agencies and producer groups. We also raise awareness around labels among consumers in general,” Zvyagintsev added.

28 November 2019, Budapest, Hungary