Fashion brands pledge to use first industry tool for science-based nature targets

Image: World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), in partnership with the Fashion Pact and Conservation International, launched the new primer this week

The primer is a part of the two-year initiative, Transforming the Fashion Sector With Nature, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The guide offers the fashion industry insights into establishing tangible and measurable nature targets.

The suggestions in the primer include assessing the impacts of industry practices on nature throughout operations and value chains; identifying data gaps and addressing them; tracing material sourcing to specific regions, farms, or sites for at least one product or unit; and actively participating in collaborative initiatives such as the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) Corporate Engagement Programme and Business for Nature.

CISL’s chief systems change officer Eliot Whittington said: “This primer offers the fashion sector clear guidance on what it needs to do – an essential tool for one of the industries most reliant on and engaged with natural systems. We hope this paves the way for a transformation of the fashion, textiles and apparel industry and that other sectors will swiftly follow suit.”

Growing impact

According to a report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, textile production is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions and heavily relies on natural resources and water. Textiles are the largest source of microplastic pollution, accounting for 35% of ocean microplastics, as per a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

An analysis from McKinsey notes that the sector has experienced unprecedented growth, doubling clothing production from 2000 to 2014.

The Fashion Pact’s co-chair and H&M’s chief executive officer Helena Helmersson said: “Thanks to the SBTN programme, companies now have the chance of aligning biodiversity strategies with the latest available science and guidelines.

“As part of the pilot, we will continue providing industry-wide input to the development of the SBTN guidance to reduce the impact of our entire sector, and we hope this work will inspire many others to follow.”

The Fashion Pact includes one-third of the global fashion industry and aims to address climate change, biodiversity restoration, and ocean protection.

The Fashion Pact’s SBTN targets cover ensuring 25% of key raw materials have lower climate impact by 2025; achieving 100% renewable energy across all operations by 2030; and supporting zero deforestation by 2025.

In terms of ocean conservation, the initiative targets the elimination of problematic and unnecessary plastics in consumer-facing packaging by 2025 and in B2B packaging by 2030, as well as ensuring at least 50% of all plastic packaging has 100% recycled content.

Former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman, who co-founded The Fashion Pact, said: “It’s time for the fashion, textile and apparel industry to play its part in building a nature-positive economy. The CEOs and companies who move without delay will reap the benefits – and so will their investors.”

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