Global Goals for A More Sustainable Textile Industry

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

As #FashionRevolution demonstrates, we need better global goals for a more sustainable fashion industry. And the United Nations agrees – recently, they hosted a #GlobalGoals event, organised by Hecho por Nosotros and moderated by Lilian Liu from Global Compact, to discuss the future of the sustainable textile industry.

The UN has set out clear Sustainable Development Goals — also known as Global Goals or the SDGs, and formally named Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .This is an inter-governmental agreement of the United Nations signed by 193 countries, and provides a framework to be implemented by “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership” around a set of 17 specific, aspirational goals that address the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

With 169 targets to be met by the year 2030, and over 232 indicators for measuring progress, the Global Goals were designed to stimulate action in the following areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. In addition, the themes covered by Global Goals (which include poverty, hunger, health and well-being, education, equality, sanitation, decent work, and production) all reflect current challenges and risks facing the textile value chain. To learn more, visit the U.N.’s Sustainable Development website.

Global Goals for A More Sustainable Textile Industry

The Global Goals event kicked off with an overview of the current situation in the industry, and was followed by an animated debate about what to do next. Kate Holzman, from Hecho por Nosotros, gave a speech focusing on the importance of using more eco-friendly materials, such as natural fibres, and Fairtrade working practices, especially employing local artisans, whose crafts may soon be lost to AI and machines.

Cara Hagan continued the conversation about the importance of enhancing informal workforce in textile supply chains to help eliminate poverty. The organisation she represents, GoodWeave International, has created a system for better transparency in the informal supply chain, which aims to improve working conditions and abolish child labour and any form of exploitation by employers.

One of the most ambitious global goals is to eradicate poverty, a topic that was thoroughly discussed by Rebecca van Bergen from Nest. She underlined how many international brands hold a huge a responsibility in their supply chains, and provided an example of how technology via mobile phones can help to monitor home-based labour and guarantee its proficiency.

Global Goals for A More Sustainable Textile Industry

Lucia Cuba from the Parsons School of Design expanded the discussion to the ways fashion can be a tool for change. Her analysis centred around the decision making of each single consumer and the need to instil sustainable values in brands, which can be used to inspire purchases of fashion items.

Of course Fashion Revolution USA was present at the event, represented by Natalia Martinez Sagan. She stated that order to attain a better understanding of how the textile industry should walk hand in hand with global goals, people in the field need to be better educated.

The main takeaway from the event is that if the right framework conditions and a supportive policy environment being are in place, the industry holds great potential for growth, sustainable innovations, traditions and culture appreciation, development, environmentally friendly practises, and job creation. This development can further be advanced through collaborative initiatives, finding ways to apply global frameworks at all levels of the supply chain and the exploration of circular models.

Everyone who attended the event was invited to join the #HechoChallenge by sending ideas for new working synergies. And those ideas are already being implemented – the end of the gathering, Hecho por Nosotros announced a partnership with the business network Common Objective (CO), which advocates for making a more positive impact for people and the environment. A great step in the right direction!

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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