Evaluating Geographical Indications – Guide to tailor evaluation for the development and improvement of Geographical Indication

by | Oct 5, 2022 | MOVING

Author: Giulia Scaglioni (AREPO)

On September 27, the MOVING’s partner Association of European Regions for Products of Origin (AREPO), organised an online presentation of the FAO guide “Evaluating geographical indications – Guide to tailor evaluations for the development and improvement of geographical indications”.

At EU level, the “Farm to Fork” (F2F) strategy is promoting more equitable, democratic and sustainable agricultural and food systems, capable of tackling climate change and contributing to the preservation of the environment.

In this context, EU quality policy already contributes to several fundamental objectives of F2F strategy. Furthermore, Geographical Indications (GIs) protection is often associated with the production of public goods, such as conservation of biodiversity, contribution to animal welfare, protection of cultural heritage, socio-cultural and rural development and reduction of poverty, in particular in mountainous and remote regions, where the farming sector accounts for a significant part of the economy and production costs are high.

Nevertheless, GIs potential in delivering public goods can be enhanced and the current revision of the EU GIs system intends precisely to strengthen GIs contribution to sustainability allowing producers to agree on sustainability undertakings to be included in their product specifications.

From this perspective, the FAO Guide is a strategic tool for GIs producer associations wanting to commit to improve the sustainability of their productions. Moreover, it represents a very useful instrument for regional authorities that could support producers in the evaluation process. This is particularly relevant for AREPO member regions who share a vision of GIs as tools for rural development and territorial planning. 

This guide defines the steps for both a prospective and retrospective evaluation, allowing GI producers and other stakeholders to identify and assess the main economic, social and environmental effects resulting from GI initiatives and then take decisions on the best way to create a new GI or adapt an existing one, with respect to the identified objectives.  

Emilie Vandecandelaere, Food system economist at the FAO, explained in her presentation how evaluation can ensure a more sustainable GI system, helping producers in establishing product specifications in line with their objectives as well as in adapting these rules to systemic socio-economic and environmental changes. 

The authors of the guide, Professors Andrea Marescotti and Giovanni Belletti from the University of Florence (UNIFI), went deeper into details focusing their presentation on the objectives, method and applications of their work.  

GIs initiatives are rooted in the territory and linked to local natural resources and public goods. In light of this specificity and complexity, the guide has been conceived as a practical and flexible instrument capable to take into account the multiplicity of GIs effects on enterprises, on the production system and on the territory. It promotes a case-by-case approach, tailored to the specific needs of each GI product, as well as to the specific objectives of each producer group. It also adopts an inclusive and participatory approach.

As a matter of fact, inclusion, representativeness and empowerment of local stakeholders are the first guiding principle of the evaluation process proposed in this FAO-UNIFI work. Secondly, the guide promotes a fair evaluation, focused on the distribution of the effects among the different actors of GI initiatives. The third guiding principle is sustainability assessed as the ability of the GI initiative to reproduce the “origin-linked quality virtuous circle” and generating economic, social and environmental benefits.

In conclusion, the guide was praised and welcomed by AREPO members and other participants who agreed on the importance to develop a culture of evaluation in GI producer groups as well as in public bodies supporting producers in GI registration and amendment procedure. Interested in knowing more about Geographical Indications? MOVING organised its second European Multi-Actor Platform (EU MAP) webinar on 8 November 2022 on European Quality schemes: the added value for mountain value chains. You can find the presentations, recordings and the highlights report on the event page.