Place-Based Pathways to Sustainability: Exploring Alignment between Geographical Indications and the Concept of Agroecology Territories in Wales

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    Geographical Indications (GIs) are regarded as important endogenous rural development mechanisms by the European Union. GIs have proven successful for some producers in some regions, delivering higher added value and safeguarding a product’s identity and heritage through the notion of terroir. Within the context of a gradual “greening” of GIs, this paper opens up questions about what potential they might have for transitions to agroecology territories, which are spaces engaged in a transition process towards sustainable agri-food systems. Using the Food and Agricultural Organization’s 10 elements of agroecology as a lens, we discuss whether GIs can serve as levers in delivering sustainable agri-food transitions, drawing on the case of the devolved nation of Wales. We base our narrative on a content analysis of GI product specification documents and data from interviews with GI stakeholders. Our case study illustrates that the discourse within the regulatory framework of some Welsh GIs has shifted from one of technicality towards the integration of some agroecology elements in more recent GI product specifications. In this respect, we argue that there is evidence of a “first generation” and “second generation” assortment of GIs in Wales. However, any potential for levering an overall transition within this scheme towards an agroecology territory remains constrained by the piecemeal embedding of agroecology. The incorporation of agroecology is emerging primarily from the ground-up—driven by independent organizational and place-based collective action, but unaccompanied, as yet, by any parallel shift amongst supporting administrative and regulatory authorities. We also discuss the importance of reflexive governance if GIs are to be viable pathways for sustainability transitions. As such, the capacity for GIs to facilitate quality-led place-based food systems that enhance increasingly threatened environmental resources is contingent upon stakeholders adopting a territorial, reflexive governance approach.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number4890
    Number of pages23
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    Coventry University Early Career Researcher Pump Prime Fund


    • Geographical Indications
    • agroecology
    • agroecology territories
    • Wales
    • reflexive governance
    • Reflexive governance
    • Agroecology territories
    • Geographical indications
    • Agroecology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)
    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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