An international meeting on geographical indications in Montpellier

Event 27 June 2022
The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are organizing an international conference on geographical indications (GIs), in collaboration with the Organization for an International Geographical Indication Network (oriGIn) and the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (Switzerland). 220 participants from 46 countries - researchers, policymakers and professionals - are expected in Montpellier from 5 to 8 July to look at the past, present and future of GIs and draft recommendations.
Garri (West Africa)
Garri (West Africa)

Garri is a cassava flour eaten in West Africa © FAO-CIRAD

The world's food and artisanal heritage encompasses a multitude of products linked to their origin. The commercial success of origin products has long preceded the use of formal mechanisms for their protection as geographical indications (GIs). Alongside Rooibos (South Africa), Kampot pepper (Cambodia), Penja pepper (Cameroon), Beni Maouche dried figs (Algeria), Darjeeling tea (India), Comté cheese (France), Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Italy), Limoges china (France), Colombian coffee, Kobe beef (Japan) and Phú Quôc Nuoc Mam sauce (Vietnam), there are now more than 9000 registered geographical indications worldwide, including more than 1500 in the European Union and more than 3000 in Asia (oriGIn).

Given their economic, social and cultural importance, GIs have become a topic for talks between a wide range of players defending various interests. Legal frameworks governing the registration and protection of GIs have mushroomed around the world in a very diverse manner, reflecting the variety of objectives attached to them. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, which recently came into force, will serve to establish the first international system for registering and protecting GIs. In this context, the organizers of an international conference, "Worldwide Perspectives on Geographical Indications", consider that the time has come to suggest new perspectives and ideas.

The conference will present the most recent research on these issues and draw lessons from experiences of implementing GIs worldwide over the past 25 years. Nature and legal definition, public management by local authorities and private management by producer groups, impacts in the marketplace and outside the market, sustainable development, inclusion of smallholders and women, protection of biodiversity and environment, adaptation to climate change, relationships with other intellectual property rights, consumer welfare, technical innovation and terroir effect are some of the topics that will be covered.

The aim is to grasp the dynamic nature of GIs and draft recommendations for action, from a local to a global level. The conference will shine the spotlight on sub-Saharan Africa, where GIs are relatively undeveloped but where there is strong demand, led by the African Union and its continental strategy for GIs. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is organizing a session on this strategy and the innovative approaches it includes.

The conference will be opened on 5 July by CIRAD CEO Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin and FAO Director General Qu Dongyu.

Detailed agenda

A conference for the general public

To open up the debate to a broader audience, four producers from four continents - coffee growers from Myanmar, guava jelly producers from Colombia, Baoulé pagne makers from Ivory Coast, and Laguiole cheesemakers from France – will be speaking at a conference open to the general public, from 19:00 to 20:30 on 6 July, at the Centre Rabelais in Montpellier. The conference is part of the Quatre saisons de l’agroécologie et de l’alimentation durable event being organized by Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole.

Occitanie's GIs will be centre stage
Participants from four continents will be able to discover three geographical indications from the Occitanie region of France, during three field trips on 7 July: pays d'Oc wines, Cévennes sweet onions and Camargue beef.

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