Technology transfer, geographical indications and human rights

The IPI deals with other topics that contribute to the realization of the sustainability goals. These include the following issues:


Technology transfer


Intellectual property plays a decisive role in the transfer of innovations. This applies to both transferring from research to commercial use (vertical technology transfer) and transferring between countries (horizontal or international technology transfer).


Patents and licensing


Patents and licensing

Intellectual property rights, especially patents, play a central role in protecting innovations. Universities, research institutions and companies can obtain patents for inventions. Technology transfer often takes place through the licensing of patents, which gives third parties the rights to use the protected technology commercially.




With WIPO GREEN, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched a marketplace in 2013 that contributes to the dissemination of sustainable technologies. The partnership, which has been in place since 2019, is the IPI's contribution to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.



The IPI follows the work on technology transfer in various international forums and multilateral agreements, such as the BBNJ Agreement (Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction) and in the Climate Change Convention (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Technology transfer under the Climate Change Convention refers to the provision of environmentally friendly technologies and knowledge to developing countries in order to promote the use of climate-friendly measures.


Sustainable development and geographical indications


Geographical indications are used to label products that originate from a specific geographical area. The quality, reputation or characteristics of such products are inextricably linked to this geographical origin and are essentially attributable to it. The close link between the products protected by a geographical indication and their ‘terroir’ (the place where they are produced, including natural and human factors) is an incentive for producers to preserve the natural resources from which their products are made.


However, this environmental awareness is not limited to protected geographical indications. Manufacturers of products that are eligible for protection under a new geographical indication also work to integrate sustainability aspects into the regulations and control mechanisms that they set up for the manufacture of the resulting products.


Even if sustainability is not a prerequisite for obtaining a geographical indication, the procedure for obtaining the status can be a useful tool for promoting sustainability goals.


What does the IPI do?


To support producer organisations, the FAO and OriGIn have published a practical guide: ‘Practical guidelines for producer organisations to identify priorities, assess performance and improve the sustainability of their geographical indication systems’. These guidelines are now to be applied in cooperation with oriGIn in a number of cooperation projects (e.g. in the coffee and cocoa sector in Peru and El Salvador). The aim is to help manufacturers of products with geographical indications to develop and apply a sustainability strategy for their products themselves. Sustainability criteria are either applied as a separate sustainability strategy or are integrated into the specifications.



Intellectual property and human rights


In the area of human rights, there are various connections to intellectual property. This is particularly true with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of farmers and the right to food. Accordingly, the IPI follows the work being carried out in the area of human rights in various international forums and in the framework of multilateral agreements, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).