Adding value to products of origin through the development of sustainable GIs requires multi-disciplinary research, innovation and education in order to exploit their potential and respond rapidly to current challenges. Research and innovation should support the improvement of those products and use them as case study to extend good practices to other sectors.
Geographical Indications (GIs) and Localised agro-food systems (LAFS) present a huge potential addressing the environmental and societal challenges that the EU food systems is facing.
They help maintaining biodiversity and traditional knowledge. Furthermore, through product specifications, GIs provide the opportunity for territorialisation of environmentally friendly production rules, taking into account the multiplicity of local specific resources. Moreover, the environmental sustainability of these products is closely linked to social sustainability. GIs are extremely important for the sustainability of rural livelihood, especially in mountainous and disadvantaged areas which they help keeping populated.
However, the potential for rural development linked to products of origin and GIs is highly under-exploited at present, in particular because of the lack of knowledge and skills in the field. Adding value to products of origin through the development of sustainable GIs requires multi-disciplinary research, innovation and education in order to exploit their potential and respond rapidly to current challenges.
For all these reasons, we should investigate how LAFS and GIs governance sustainably manage collective local resources and develop solutions to incorporate all sustainability dimensions in GIs recognition and protection processes.
Research and innovation should support the improvement of those products and use them as case study to extend good practices to other sectors, especially concerning their governance and collective organisation.
EU agricultural research and innovation
The European Commission is a big stakeholder in this context since it has provided financial support and has funded research projects on GIs and EU quality schemes. DOLPHINS, SINER-GI, EuroMARC and Strength2food are four of the most important projects on EU quality schemes financed by the EC through the Framework Programme for Research (FP) and Horizon 2020.
Nevertheless, GIs and other quality schemes still need EC support to develop multidisciplinary research and innovation. This is of paramount importance in order to unfold the potential described and elaborate solutions to the above-mentioned challenges.
To this end, AREPO recommends the European Commission to:
- Include EU quality schemes in its strategic approach to EU agricultural R&I, defining specific priorities in order to strengthen their contribution to public goods creation;
- Implement the above-mentioned priorities with an increase in funding and in specific project calls dedicated to GIs and other EU quality schemes.
AREPO Scientific Council
In 2017, AREPO in collaboration with the European Research Group on Localised Agrifood Systems (ERG SYAL) started building its scientific network, to develop an internal exchange and platform for discussion between the research world and AREPO member Regions and producers.
This network of experts, which is now recognised as AREPO Scientific Council, aims at:
- Developing common actions on education, socio-economic analysis, and exchange of good-practices concerning rural and territorial development;
- Building strong common positions and actions with the support of scientific information produced by the experts participating in the Scientific Council;
- Defining together questions and research needs concerning LAFS, origin products and EU quality systems;
- Strengthening the European research and innovation policy in favor of LAFS, origin products and EU quality systems;
- Increasing support and funding at EU level on education and training programmes on GIs and EU quality systems.