Collective agro-food initiatives are often perceived as means to promote sustainable rural development. This research looks into geographical indications (GIs) as collective initiatives marketing origin-based products. One of the key arguments developed to legally protect GIs is their contribution to rural development and the conservation of natural and human heritages. Nevertheless, the main challenge is to demonstrate their tangible and expected effects on the territory. The author primarily analyses the governance structures of GIs comparing case studies from Western Europe with cases from Serbia. The presence of a facilitator in the GI-building process is a key factor to achieve positive territorial effects. Secondarily the author addresses the methodology to measure impacts of GI initiatives on their territories. This research work provides a literature review and develops a methodology to measure assumed or expected effects of initiatives aiming to protect GIs.