Sustainable Farming, Terroir and Food Traditions

(version française)

France was surprisingly absent from United Nations’ Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) on tourism in 1999. The French Minister in charge of Tourism could have defended the most valorisable features for sustainable development such as cultural tourism, green tourism, coastal conservatories… The Session was most probably considered to be a purely environmental affair. In 2000, the SDC deals with agriculture and the integrated management of land. For the moment, the only official French approach seems to focus on maintaining public subsidies while subjecting them to certain environmental regulations or to refer to the land management contracts (contrats territoriaux d’exploitation – CTE). These are undeniably important aspects, but France thus leaves aside the cultural dimension of the problem and the economic valorisation of its « terroirs ». The French contribution to the FAO seminar on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land made no mention of either the concept of terroir or the French A.O.C. labels of origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).
This paper aims to structure a reflection in the framework of sustainable development, which goes far beyond regulating acute agricultural pollution. The objective is not to defensively uphold a « French cultural exception », but to develop a positive and strategic rhetoric that could evoke a favourable response in many Southern countries. The paper simultaneously addresses agricultural and tourism issues as the two are closely linked.
From this point of view, the terroir (i.e. the mix of ecological, geographical and cultural features that gives a particular area of land, i.e. a « territory », its specificity) is considered as a component of production in its own right. Most modern approaches to agriculture use the term sustainable development to define production methods controlling the inputs and outputs of material flows only, whether this control is strict (organic agriculture), or extremely weak (integrated agriculture). Integrated agriculture could be subjected to procedures such as ISO 14001, that is, based on management methods, financial commitments and no obligatory results [[According to the proposals made by Guy Paillotin, Report to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, February 2000, available on Internet:]]

1. Sustainable Consumption and Cultural Goods

The search for identity and diversity is becoming stronger and stronger in industrialised countries, as a reaction to globalisation of exchanges and the uniformity of products consumed by the general public, as well as to the ideal life styles promoted by the media and multinational companies. New expanding economic activities are based on the products and services provided in the areas of leisure, tourism, the food-processing and craft industries.
This diversity is often based on an artificial differentiation of products through marketing images, although they are all basically the same. However, there is also a real and authentic diversity of production. These products are often associated with the past, and advertised with reference to local history through images and tales and to a certain local savoir-faire. We consume symbols and the role of marketing and advertising is to create an image, and give meaning to a product.
However, mere marketing images cannot help move these trends towards sustainable development: the sustainability of these activities must be considered, that is to say, their perreniality in the long term and their contribution to local and global sustainable development. A further question must also be raised: how can this demand contribute to the development of the poorer Southern countries in the present context of economic globalisation?
From an environmental point of view, sustainable consumption is thought to proceed from the creation and consumption of plain and clean products that use little energy or resources and are risk-free throughout their life cycle. Tourism for example, must keep within the limits of the carrying capacity that can be tolerated by the host environments. The problem is not, however, restricted to the environment: sustainability must also be cultural and social.
Sustainable tourism was at the centre of an important debate during the 7th session of the Sustainable Development Commission. The missions conferred to it were twofold: « increasing the benefits derived by the host communities tourism resources, while maintaining the cultural and ecological integrity of these communities ». Tourism must thus preserve « the legacy of the past, the natural heritage and integrity of touristic regions, while respecting their socio-cultural standards, in particular those of native communities ». The issue is thus pervaded by the nature/culture duality.
Historical cultural « objects » and exceptional natural areas must be protected and their use controlled so that they do not deteriorate as they can never be fully replicated, even though their partial restoration is feasible. I shall not deal here with these specific protective measures: they need to be reinforced, not weakened, by sustainable development. We should adopt a wide vision of culture, of cultures, as Edgar Morin suggests: « People justly speak of Culture, and of cultures. Culture consists of all the knowledges, savoir-faire, rules, norms, taboos, strategies, beliefs, ideas, values and myths that are handed over across the generations; it reproduces in each individual, controls the very existence of society and maintains its social and psychological complexity. No human society, be it archaic or modern, is devoid of culture, but each culture is singular. Thus culture is always present in cultures, but culture only exists through the diversity of cultures. […] This dual phenomenon of the oneness and diversity of cultures is crucial. Culture maintains the specific features of human identity; while cultures maintain the specific features of social identities. »[[Edgar Morin, Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future, © UNESCO, October 1999, available on Internet:]]. In this sense, cultures are essential components of universal culture. These living cultures are immersed in modern times even though the past holds a significant place in them.
Let us now consider the cultural and ecological foundations of products that have a strong identity and strong patrimonial value, and explore their relationship with local sustainable development, on the one hand, and globalisation, on the other. We naturally consider that public cultural goods cannot be produced for a commercial purpose only, as they play an essential role in the social sphere and the informal sector.

1.1. Example: Barbizon

This example highlights two essential features: that of typicality and of identity founded on both the historical heritage and the modern reconstruction of artistic and leisure activities. In this case, the historical component is the (fortuitous) presence of painters. This component is, however, often linked with social practices that have developed out of local resources or constraints.
A good example is that of mineral or plant materials which give a specific character to the local buildings and thus to the landscape. Maintaining traditional activities (roofing stone slabs, slate or thatched roofs in some parts of France, for example) provides local employment and promotes the use of local materials. These will often have a lesser impact on the environment than imported industrial materials. Renovating old house instead of building new ones economises on raw materials. The development of self-catering cottages helps maintain and rehabilitate the existing architectural heritage, as well as creating homely conditions for visitors and increasing contacts between tourists and the local population and local products.
At the same time, these practices contribute to maintaining, instead of denaturing, the ecological or cultural resources and the original features of landscapes that are liable to attract tourists and thus become a source of income for the local communities. This approach does nevertheless not prevent the evolution of traditional technical savoir-faire, through new knowledge or as a result of new needs. Traditional housing must, for example, be made more comfortable with modern insulating techniques.
The underlying aim is to preserve the complex social and cultural systems whose components reinforce each other. The agri-food field offers a good illustration of the balance between local resources and food traditions. « Local resources are the privileged point of articulation between biological facts and social facts. Within a wide framework and with a varying degree of intensity, local resources will play on a range of factors: their belonging to a geographic locality, a particular tie with history, local uses, knowledge, technical practices, attitudes and representations of their own. […] Most of these resources were long marginal to the market economy and would have disappeared. What saved them were social factors such as food traditions or sense of identity. »[[Laurence Bérard, Philippe Marchenay: Ressource des terroirs et diversité bio-culturelle, perspectives de recherche (« terroir resources and bio-cultural diversity, research perspectives »), Journal d’agriculture traditionnelle et de botanique appliquée (JATBA), 1994, vol. XXXVI (2), 87-91..]]
As a matter of fact, three types of economic production are concerned by this approach to local development based on cultural and environmental heritages: traditional activities, the agri-food industry and leisure/tourism. These three areas are interlinked and should be dealt within an integrated manner through a system approach. Indeed, the economic impact of tourism is not limited to the number of nights spent locally and direct income from tourist infrastructures (museums, theme parks, sport activities, etc.). Tourism also stimulates the consumption of local foods and the purchase of traditional or cultural products.
Figure 1 illustrates this issue. Each area includes both local and national or international activities (in grey).Obviously tourism addresses chiefly consumers from far away. However local leisure activities are quite important also and should be developed, as one of the main impacts of tourism on the environment is due to increased mobility and therefore increased use of transport means. These local cultural activities contribute to personal development and to local social development seen as a collective practice.

Figure 1. The relationships between cultural products at a local level

The impact of transport on the environment can also be reduced by having people spend more time in a given area; this would reduce energy consumption and give tourists time to discover the host locality in depth and as a result to develop more responsible attitudes. The diversity of activities (ecotourism, educational activities, etc.) also allows tourist infrastructures to be used over a longer period of time thus making them profitable all year round and contributing to more balanced local development (e.g. the problem of seasonal workers).
On the other hand, traditional activities and agri-food aspects are more specifically aimed at local consumers, which in a way guarantees their authenticity. « Against all expectations, regional food traditions have survived and contribute to maintaining the diversity of cultivated plants and of breeds of domestic animals. A specific fruit or vegetable will be cultivated because it is part of a local recipe, is used as seasoning or is transformed to suit other needs »[[see note 2..]]. This diversity is what generates the typicality of local restaurants and auberges.
Before dealing with the integration and organisation mechanisms of these specific markets, let us examine the conditions for the production of these local specificities, which have both a cultural and a natural dimension. It must be added that these environmental and social dimensions will be considered in terms of synergy and not of opposition, as is all too often the case.

1.2. Local Products

The sustainable exploitation of these patrimonial resources should be submitted to three conditions:
a) preserving the conditions that permit their renewal; that is, minimising the impact of their exploitation while promoting a sufficient level of production.
b) equitably sharing the resulting income among the local actors who produce these cultural and natural features (positive externalities or public goods).
c) implementing good local governance systems, which tie the production of specific products to local sustainable development strategies shared by all the local actors and thus avoiding the evicting effect resulting from monoculture development.

a) Preserving their Ability to be Renewed

As René Dubos said, « each locality has a spirit of its own, which gradually influences its physical aspect and the genius of its population […] I am of the same opinion as those who believe that landscapes deeply affect the existence of human beings » [[René Dubos, Spiritual Ecology, Fayard, 1973..]]. So as to sustainably develop these local cultural resources certain conditions need to be respected, and in the first place the environmental and social structures at the base of their production. If these conditions are not respected, we will end up with a sham culture displayed in leisure parks and inauthentic supposedly artisanal objects or, worse even, we will completely destroy these characteristics. The « marketing » of native or local culture must thus be carried out with care, and by involving the social groups concerned in all the decisions taken. One central factor in the process is the revalorisation of the local culture in the eyes of those involved in it and who wish to share it with outsiders.
Does this mean that all traditions are sound for sustainable development ? Definitely not. Modern knowledge has disclosed problems that must be taken into consideration: problems linked with human rights for instance or environmental problems. Modern management methods should neither reconsider them entirely nor ignore them: they need to be revisited in the context of modern knowledge (especially by assessing their environmental impact) and by involving the local actors concerned. It is thus necessary to reach a balance between tradition and modernity.
The SDC was asked the following question by certain delegations: « How can knowledge, culture, practices and traditional life styles integrate the modern approaches promoting sustainable consumption and production modes? » [[Resolution project recommended to the Economic and Social Council by the Sustainable Development Commission, in relation with the work on the seventh session, 9-30 April 1999, Economic and Social Council, official documents, 1999, supplement 9 E/1999/29 E/CN.17/1999/20 (, §52. p. 42, and Conference work on sustainable consumption modes: trends and traditions in East Asia and the Korean Republic, January 1999..]]

b) Sharing the Profits

Sharing the profits is part of the exploitation of any heritage. In this instance, the value added by the collective cultural heritage should also be shared. It is not just a case of copyright in the conventional sense, but a case of remunerating an « impure » public good, produced by private and public actors. Non-exclusivity and non-rivalry are two other qualities required when referring to public goods, but these are, of course, limited by the carrying capacity of the different environments. Although ecological and cultural diversities are international public goods, they are mainly produced on a local scale.
Moreover, these public goods are mainly created by local actors. The added value should therefore be attributed to the locality itself thereby increasing its contribution to local sustainable development. The problem is not so much to promote the extensification of agricultural production in difficult areas, as to maximise the added value of the land. The French law on « appelations d’origine », a government certification guaranteeing the quality of a French wine (see Box 4), requests that wine is bottled where it is produced, thus providing employment for the local artisans.
A local product must, therefore, benefit from an equitable share of the life cycle of a commodity: this requires providing adequate legal structures but also encouraging local producers to associate in order to manage the specificities and negotiate the marketing and distribution of their products, and even to distribute these themselves when necessary. Small circuits are, for instance, well suited to market local production as the producers themselves control the marketing of their products, in a structure where commercial transactions and distribution are closely linked. This system is now extended through new marketing channels such as Internet, where transactions remain capillary and made-to-measure, but where the product travels greater distances. The resulting increased mobility of products could, however, create some problems at the international level.
A good illustration of this issue is to be found in the biodiversity of domestic species, which is at the base of food production. This biodiversity results from the slow evolution of relationships between humankind and the environment. Indeed, so as to adapt to the environment, people have developed specific production types, specific practical knowledge; they selected and bred the species best adapted to their land and developed processing techniques, which resulted in the development of specific local products. We view this process as the production of public goods. Indeed, humans have worked at developing species and selecting genes: this amounts to a collective intellectual creation that can be valorised by all and sundry. Each contracting party of the Convention on Biological Diversity must respect, preserve and maintain « knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilisation of such knowledge, innovations and practices. » [[Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8 j : On site conservation. Bilingual version available on the Agora 21 web site:]] The sharing of benefits must primarily take place at a local level.
The second condition for the sustainability of these heritages is thus an equitable sharing of income among the local actors who produce these public goods.

c) Local Governance

The production of public goods and the equitable distribution of the resulting income, necessarily requires implementing or reinforcing the capacities of local actors. By this, we mean « a process in which individuals, groups, organisations, institutions and countries develop their abilities, so as to acquire further functions, resolve problems and meet their objectives. »[[Governance for sustainable human development. A UNDP policy documents (United Nations Programme for Sustainable Development). January 1997, New York..]] The first people concerned by capacity reinforcement are the actors involved in the production of cultural goods. However, the long-term perenniality of these resources would be seriously threatened if they were to become a mono-activity. A balance needs to be maintained between the local inhabitants and their economic (formal or informal) and social relationships, which means preserving a balanced development of local territories. To do so, one must take into consideration the local governance mechanisms allowing a conciliation of different interests: public (local communities), economic and individual interests at both the regional and national levels. These good governance mechanisms, whose aim is to collectively allocate and manage resources, « are characterised by participation, transparency, responsibility, the primacy of rights, efficiency and equity ».[[see note 6..]] The local Agenda 21 programmes are amongst the most important of these governance mechanisms, as they act as a reference framework facilitating the cooperation between the different parties concerned. [[A memorandum agreement has been signed between the International Environmental Agency for Local Governments (ICLEI) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to implement the Agenda 21 based on sustainable development, at a local level, in most worldwide tourist regions. Sustainable Development Commission, see note 8, §12. p. 61..]]
The third condition is thus the implementation of efficient local governance that enables specific types of production to be embedded in sustainable land development strategies shared by all the actors concerned.
All local territories are concerned to a greater or lesser degree by such approaches. The most vulnerable territories or those having original features would be the ones to benefit the most from such approaches: mountain regions, islands and coastal areas, as well as centres of biodiversity.
These approaches can apply to the Southern countries that are greatly dependent on the export of their natural resources. The marketing of more elaborate products, and the contribution of added value, would decrease the impact resulting from the exploitation of their resources while increasing the income they produce.

2. How can these Approaches be implemented ?

As mentioned above, the economic exchange of goods endowed with a strong cultural identity concern, above all, the local populations. They are deeply embedded in an intimate relationship between producers and consumers and the raw products are transformed at the domestic level. Food traditions (generally cultural) are in accord with local production practices. The nature of the problem changes when considering more distant consumers, in other words, the international market. Marketing of these goods on the international market can contribute to the income needed to develop these areas. Let us then consider their relationship with economic globalisation. Economic globalisation is generally criticised as it entails the standardisation of production and consumption modes. Governments, international organisations and large industrial groups often hold forth on the consequences of globalisation on consumption and production modes. They search for mechanisms encouraging sustainable consumption while avoiding to set up invisible trade barriers.
The aim is obviously to valorise products and services having a strong local identity. Yet being able to do so is not easy. Regulatory approaches can be used at the country level, but these are often unilateral and can be called into question by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if they appear to be invisible trade barriers At the local level, it is nevertheless possible to resort to complementary regulatory or financial measures as these have no direct influence on international commerce: land use, town planning regulations, building standards, local infrastructures, etc.
Similarly, ecological taxing of resources and charging the use of natural areas can also be a means of moving closer to a resource cost that reflects the true price of goods and services. Such taxes are however not accepted to the same degree by the different countries and this could induce distortions.
The aim of the land management contracts (contrat territorial d’exploitation – CTE) being set up in France is specifically to finance the activities of farmers who produce positive externalities (landscape, pollution control, etc.). An interesting approach, which could however accentuate a detrimental duality. In this model, patrimonial values would be guaranteed by the State, while the market would continue being driven by purely quantitative criteria. The two approaches could be usefully combined, as long as the market is approached from a strategic point of view. Indeed, the production and consumption modes can only be changed by increasing the consumers’ awareness of their responsibilities and providing them with the information needed to orient their consumption towards sustainably produced goods.

2.1. A Sustainable Development Labelling Mechanism

So as to preserve, reinforce and even produce public goods, i.e. social, cultural and ecological diversity, consumers must be made aware of the added value of these features when buying a product. Local consumers can easily understand the issues at stake, immersed as they are in their environment and sensitised through education for instance. Distant consumers on the other hand, who buy the product from a standardised and impersonal market, find this far more difficult. It thus boils down to a matter of information. If price is what defines the product, then the price signal must be relevant and include all the external effects on the environment and on culture. As seen above, this is not a generally accepted course, and in addition raises assessment problems. Labelling would be a possible solution for an economic development of these specific features.
In the field of tourism, industrialists can inform their clients of the possible consequences of their stay on the environment and on local societies and inform the tourists of the ecological and cultural values of the regions they are going to visit, so as to encourage them to adopt a more responsible behaviour. Consumer awareness of sustainable consumption attitudes can be raised through interesting information (stories), their sense of ethical responsibility, personal implication and personal experiences … [[OECD: Education and Learning for Sustainable Consumption. OECD’s Environmental Direction, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, Paris, 1999..]]
The consumer should also be informed through a labelling system that could be based on voluntary approaches. « The idea is for consumers to have access to reliable information on the impact of products and services on the environment by defining a clear description of products, by asking industrialist to establish ecological reports, by creating information centres for consumers, by elaborating voluntary and clear programmes to attribute ecological labels. »[[see note 8, §24, p. 5..]]. These proposals often concern the environment, but rarely include cultural aspects. Yet, we have just seen that they are essential.
The Internet can also serve as a source of information on products. Indeed, consumers can get extremely detailed information on production methods from the Internet. Consumer groups could be set up on a world basis to test local products according to their affinities, images, and history… and communicate with the producers. This interactivity could shorten the commercial circuit and thus increase the added value at the producer end.

2.2. Defining the Concept of Terroir

This brings us to the concept of terroir. This is a concept mainly used in France and which has no equivalent in other languages [[On an international scale, we could use the French term « terroir »..
See The stakes of information on sustainable development in French, Christian Brodhag, French speaking summer university on sustainable development and information systems, Saint-Étienne, 5-9 July 1999, available at]]
A series of concepts are linked to the terroir concept: the history of a local community, its traditions that are reflected in its savoir-faire and uses, and its specific productions,which constitute public goods and produce amenities for a large group ofpartiesconcerned.Theterm « produits du terroir », i.e. terroir products, is a commonly used word. We propose to give it an operational meaning similar to that of the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system applying to wine, cheese and some other food products.[[]]

2.3. The Choice of Consumers

Consumers in general, and especially food consumers, wish the taste and sanitary quality, as well as the safety of the products they consume to be guaranteed by identification (labelling) and traceability systems. The image and reputation of a product rest on symbolic representations closely linked to cultural practices. The point is thus to encourage the meeting of consumers and « terroir products » (see Fig. 2, below). Locally, contact is easy and close: there is a balance between consumer food habits and terroir products. However, as consumers move away, they are no longer immersed in this culture nor exposed to informal exchanges of information. A framework of operational and institutional procedures and mechanisms then needs to be set up, which takes account of two new aspects: the territory considered as political and institutional space and the products and services controlled by economic, as well as social and cultural mechanisms.

Figure 2. The territory/product problematic

While normalisation and standardisation are necessary to move towards distant markets, these processes may also lead to a decline of diversity as observed in the French certification procedures. « Orality allows and even encourages variants, creativity and in certain cases, innovation; the written word leads to conformity and loyalty, which entails a degree of impoverishment and fixity. The systematic exploration and inventory of savoir-faire that is occurring in France in order to typify and protect products, will unavoidably result in the loss of a certain biological and cultural diversity, which may eventually lead to a form of disappropriation. »[[Laurence Bérard: Legal acknowledgment of « terroir production »: dealing with the cultural aspect. Workshop: Representations of quality through legal devices..]]
Although this is probably a minor risk as compared to international standardisation, the portion of local products to be integrated in a distant market dynamic (thereby evolving from informal to formal, from domestic and traditional to industrial) is a choice involving the entire community. Following the logic of sustainable development, this procedure must be incorporated into a logic of territorial development that is, of good local governance, of reinforcing the capacities of the parties concerned, and of local Agenda 21 negotiation and evaluation procedures. « The ruling class and general public have a wide long term perspective of good governance and human development, as well as an idea of what is needed for such a development to take place. Moreover, they understand the full complexity of the historical, cultural and social data surrounding this perspective. These essential features are interdependent, respectively reinforce one another and cannot exist independently. »[[see note 10..]] Excessive opening to the international market could lead to an agricultural or tourist-oriented monoculture which would be harmful for local sustainable development and could jeopardise the conditions of sustainability themselves, as seen above. These choices must definitely be made within the framework of a development project for the local territory as this is the level at which eviction phenomena can be prevented.
Capacity strengthening should primarily target the product production lines: product specificities and characteristics should be developed through voluntary labelling indicating that they are « terroir products ». The legal and institutional framework offers a range of solutions – quality labels, brand marks, etc… according to the relative roles which the public authorities and the private sector are asked to play in the process: the underlying issues remain the same, however. Regarding brand marks, public authorities must protect consumers from misleading advertising.
The consumer is the last link in the chain. Euromontana [[Identification and distribution of quality mountain products, synthesis and the main points of the debates. .Euromontana, seminar, 3rd and 4th September 1999, Saint-Etienne. Based on the work of Olivier Beucherie (ISARA) – version 24, September 1999..]] has defined two mountain « consumer models »: the non-participative and the participative models. The first most probably corresponds to the behaviour of winter tourists. Those belonging to the second model are possibly more sensitive to the notion of local heritage in mountain areas, and thus more aware of the specificity of local foods. However, the participative consumer must be given the right conditions to participate.
Consuming terroir products can be risky, therefore they must be correctly assessed. « The very specific nature of many food products, which are often unknown to consumers from outside the production locality, means that unless detailed information is made available on how to prepare them, they will not be eaten. […] Ignorance of practices and culinary know-how on the way to prepare local products can result in predictable disappointment on the consumer’s part. […] Should the product be adapted to the consumer or the consumer to the product? […] We are tempted to insist on the fact that consumers must be initiated about the product, its originality, the way it is to be prepared, in order that they are able to appreciate it fully ».[[Laurence Bérard and Philippe Marchenay: Heritage and Modernity: terroir products in the limelight, an anthropology of food choices. Anthropologist Journal, 74, 1998, AFA..]]


If we want consumers to consume « terroir » products and services, we need to set up procedures allowing the identification of their characteristics and to foster synergies between the action of the local bodies in charge of local development and the production and distribution economic networks.
Acting on the offer end is however not enough; one also needs to work on the demand end by advocating consumption modes and life styles that contribute to personal development. In consuming « diversity » we increase our personal « diversity ». Diversity encourages human development and is thus an essential component of sustainable development. Consumers must therefore be given the capacity to orient their consumption modes in this direction.
The need to inform and educate consumers is a basic condition for fostering the joint evolution of production and consumption modes. On the other hand, the cultural and symbolic meaning of food must also be rehabilitated in the process.

Box 1: Local Public Goods

It is worth considering the dual nature of human culture (international public goods) and diversified cultures (local and community goods) in detail.
Traditional public goods are defined as having three qualities, as opposed to private goods: they are at the base of public production, their consumption is non-exclusive as everybody has access to it, and last but not least, they have no competitors as there is practically no risk of them becoming rare. If culture itself can be considered as a pure public good, the goods in question here are impure public goods. They are often produced privately. Although the methods and techniques are not exclusive and have no direct rivals, these goods can be denatured or exhausted by over-consumption. The debate taken up by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) on international public goods, must thus be extended to the level of localities.
*Public goods on an international scale, international cooperation in the XXIth century », a study carried out by Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern, published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New-York Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Box 2: Barbizon

The village of Barbizon is a good example of local development based on cultural values linked to nature. This village of 1200 inhabitants lies some 60 kilometres outside Paris and its main street runs into the Fontainebleau forest. The village has no historical monument, castle or other architectural heritage. Some 150 years ago, some ten painters settled down there. The village’s identity is now based on this event and the village itself has become a listed site. In 1850, in reaction against classicism, painters such as Millet, Théodore Rousseau, Diaz, and several others settled d at the Ganne Inn (now a museum) to paint realistic representations of nature and peasants. This was the beginning of pre-impressionism, later called Ecole de Barbizon. From then on the village also attracted poets, writers and other artists who went there for short breaks. After 1940, the Parisians started to go to Barbizon for weekends.
The village now possesses a dozen of art galleries, as well as antique shops, hotels, restaurants and even a night-club at the edge of the forest. Second homes have now become first homes. The nearby market farmers continue to produce vegetables, lettuce and also cut flowers. The fields change colour along the seasons and with the crop rotations: wheat, sunflower, alfalfa, cabbage, etc.
This cultural village provides the Paris region with interlinked consumptions (rambling or bike rides in the forest) and with culture along the « Route de tous les arts », the Art Road which stretches out over forty kilometres around Fontainebleau.

Box 3 : Defining the Word Terroir

Defined by the French Sustainable Development Commission:
A terroir is a territorial entity with patrimonial values that stem from the complex and long term relationships between cultural, social, ecological and economic features. As opposed to natural areas little submitted to the influence of humans, terroirs depend on the particular relationship between human societies and their natural habitat that has shaped the landscape. From an international point of view, they preserve biodiversity, as well as cultural and social diversities, in accordance with the objectives of sustainable development.

Box 4 : « Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée »(A.O.C.): French Appellation of Origin

The French National Institute of Appellations of Origin (Institut national des appellations d’origine – INAO) was set up in 1935 and was first in charge of identifying wines and brandy (eaux-de-vie), encoding their uses and protecting them against usurpations in France and abroad. In 1990, its competences were extended to all raw or transformed agricultural and food products under the A.O.C. label.
The law implemented on 2 July 1990 established an accurate definition: appellations of origin « means the geographical name of a country, region, or locality, which serves to designate a product originating therein, the quality and characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors. »
In 1992, Community regulations established the A.O.P. (appellation d’origine protégée), protected appellation of origin, stating that products submitted to this label must be produced, transformed and elaborated in a delimited geographical designation. To benefit from the AOC label, a product must be conform to the above definition, have a pre-established reputation and must be submitted to an approval procedure guaranteeing the way the product is produced. In this concept, the notion of « origin » first covers a geographical area, defined according to the soil, subsoil and climate. The whole system is based on this essential element.
These geographical areas of production are highly protected against aggressions of all kind. The threats can be material: the delimited areas can be directly endagered (motorways, railroads, quarries, etc), the climate can change due to insalubrious industries, pumping stations, etc. These threats can also be intellectual: the image of these labels of origin can be threatened by changes in the landscape, of the environment or the site.
In France, 133 000 farms are concerned by the A.O.C. label of origin. A.O.C. wines represent 11.3 billion euros, that is, over 80% of French production (in terms of value) and brandy represents 1.5 billion euros. It is the main credit line in the foreign trade balance of the French food industry. Dairy products, especially cheese, represent a turnover of 1.7 billion euros. The A.O.C. label of origin is developing in various other sectors: fruit, vegetables, oil… The turnover of these products is roughly of 150 million euros.
These labels of origin are generally protected via international conventions, however they are now also protected thanks to a multilateral agreement concerning the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS – trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights), signed at Marrakech on 15 April 1994. Henceforth, the protection principle of geographical indications is set in the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The TRIPS Council (Geneva) deal with the legal implementation of this protection principle.,M1