Quality Food Products Linked to Geographical Origin and Traditions

South-East Europe Technical Seminar 
Belgrade, 3-4 December 2008

The main aim of the regional workshop were to provide an overview of the range of approaches to origin-based quality in South-Eastern and Eastern European region, to highlight common challenges and opportunities (legal and institutional framework, food safety issues, local organization, etc.), and to discuss lessons learned from the various countries’ experiences.

During the seminar various concepts (e.g. its relevance to strategies for rural development), field of application of GI products, regional overview, lessons learnt and legal background were presented. Among the main objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Share knowledge, information and experiences;
  • Initiating the establishment of a network of institutions involved in GIs issues in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe;
  • Identifying bottlenecks/issues related to GIs, and to identify needs and elaborate ideas for possible technical assistance to the region; and
  • Drawing lessons from countries that are more advanced in the EU accession process or already members (e.g. Croatia, Hungary, etc.);

Among the participants representatives of governments, local authorities, civil society, local and private sector and development organizations, experts on quality products linked to geographical origin and traditions were represented from the region (56 participants).


Geographical Indication and its contribution to food security

Technical Forum organized within International Green Week
16 January 2009, Berlin 

The technical forum was organized by the Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (REU) and aimed to raise awareness about the importance of traditional products and their role in agriculture and rural development.

The overall objective of the panel discussion was to consider to what extent GI products can really contribute to increased rural incomes and improved food security, or if GIs are rather limited to niche markets with good access to wealthy consumers in developed countries. The main objectives of the discussion were to provide answers to a set of key questions raised by the moderator with the panel members:

  • Are GIs a viable option for the sustainable development of rural areas;
  • What are the limits/threats to GIs’ contribution to the development of rural areas; and
  • What are the policy options to support GIs.

The panelists, prominent experts in the technical subject of the Forum, represented a wide range of sectors and institutions including academia, research, the non-governmental sector, international organizations and the UN system. Around 60 participants attended the event.


Livestock Based Geographical Indication Chains as an Entry Point to Maintain Agro-Biodiversity

            Regional Expert Meeting
            20-21 Ocober 2009, Budapest, Hungary 


  • Raise awareness about the importance of traditional products and their role in agriculture and rural development and agro-biodiversity preservation;
  • Discuss the limits/possibilities for GIs to contribute to the conservation of livestock genetic resources and agro-biodiversity;
  • Contribute to knowledge base for practitioners, scientists and decision and policy makers for their work related to geographical indications and rural development.

Scientists and policy makers representing Government, NGOs, universities, farmers in areas of animal genetic resources management, rural development and geographical indications products .from Italy, Spain, Germany, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine attended the event.

  • GI are an opportunity for biodiversity and genetic resources maintenance, as a result of the close relations between specific quality linked to geographical origin and preservation of specific local race:
  • traditional breeds are characterized by a lower productivity that is also responsible of specific characteristics compared to modern productive races
  • traditional breeds are often part of a traditional (eco)system that adds more specificity to the final products (e.g. pasture, specific variety, traditional practices)
  • traditional way of living and local culture provides still more typicalness, that consumers would be happy to preserve and benefit from (tourism).
  • But GI are not an automatic and exclusive solution: it is a contribution from the economic side (economic viability of the traditional system that prevent from replacing race by more standardized ones) and depends on how the genetic resources are taken into account in the code of practice
  • GI code of practice should include the use of products from breeds & species that need to be preserved from a biodiversity point of view, if appropriate
  • Public actors at national and local levels, including research and development related institutions, can provide support and orientations to enhance sustainable GIs, and in particular regarding biodiversity preservation.
  • Providing with an efficient legal and institutional framework for recognition and protection of GIs, providing with guidelines for taking into consideration biodiversity in the code of practice, financial and technical support is one of them.


  • Raise awareness about importance of maintaining/protecting genetic resources
  • Raise awareness of public actors, producers and consumers about GI as a tool for maintaining genetic resources ("economic" versus "museum" or "park" approach)
  • GI producers have to work together along the whole commodity chain (i.e. primary producers, small scale processors, processors, traders, etc.) in order that the benefit of the "value added" is shared equally and the largest part remains in the region/location of the GI. In particular in SSE regional approaches (i.e. cross-border) should be pursued.
  • Link GI products that can/will preserve biodiversity through specific rural development programmes
  • Lobby for specific rural development support programmes for GIs at EU level
  • Build capacity and provide guidelines for implementation of sustainable GIs and capacity