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Geographical indications, in situ conservation and traditional knowledge

27 / 02 / 2012, Eldis Biodiversity

Geographical indications (GIs) have been a neglected area in the various fora addressing biodiversity and intellectual property. This policy brief focuses on basic GI concepts and the overall conclusion of the overview of over 30 GI cases.
The document demonstrates the following observations:

GI development may promote biodiversity conservation directly through the use of a specific genetic resource, or indirectly through management practices that include ecosystem considerations
current trends in multilateral and national GI protection systems show that the issue is moving in practice, and indicate that developing countries are active in GI development
value chain differentiation is a very important concept in terms of GIs and has important policy implications

The paper concludes that indications of source, basic labelling of generics and the possibility of registering GIs according to the specific value chain should be considered within GI implementation strategies. In addition, promoting innovative approaches to marketing with a geographical identity is required as well.
Final general recommendations are that:

GI protection systems should focus on the creation of an enabling institutional environment to prevent the false use of GIs
GI registration systems should be precise and flexible and also consider the legal framework for the development of governing bodies
the governance features of GIs should contribute to the respectful and creative use of traditional knowledge and practices
regarding hunger and poverty alleviation goals, it is important to avoid economic exclusion processes at the local and regional level as a consequence of developing only high-end valuable markets
in terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agenda, the neglect of GIs within current conversations should end, and there should be deep discussions on GIs contributions to rural conservation

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