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International experts met at UNESCO in June 2009 to discuss "Localizing products: a sustainable approach for natural and cultural diversity in the South?"
Over 175 experts in law, economics, agronomy, ecology and anthropology, plus representatives from international organisations and NGOs gathered in Paris for a symposium exploring the link between local products, cultures and biodiversity in the South. Recognition of these links, and the promotion of traditional expertise and talent, are vital if local ecosystems and cultures are to survive. Experts presented a range of initiatives and tools to promote locally-sourced products, such as branding, fair trade, and controlled origin appellations.
" Biodiversity initiatives only work if local players accept them, participate, and reap the benefit," said ethnobiologist Bernard Roussel, a professor at France's Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.
But local projects need national and international support. Often, they touch on sensitive trade and legal issues – branding, intellectual property, anti-counterfeiting – with implications far beyond the local level. Tackling these demands concerted action from state authorities and international organisations, whose response is often sporadic and uneven.
Organised by the IRD (Institut du Recherche pour le Développement) and others, the topics explored at this major symposium reflect a number of core concerns for the Fondation and the house of Hermès.