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UN launches Alliance for Sustainable Fashion

By Simone Preuss

18 Mar 2019


Together with various partners, the United Nations launched on Thursday the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. The Alliance seeks to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, pointing to the fact that the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10 percent of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

“Many people succumb to buying seasonal trends that then get thrown away within a couple of months, and it’s just not sustainable. At the launch of the UN Sustainable Fashion Alliance we get to see people developing new fibers that are sustainable, have low water impact and low impact on the environment where they’re produced,” said UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadya Hutagalung, conservationist and media personality, at the launch event.

Part of the event was a series of ‘instastories’ from 10-20 key players in sustainability, each explaining their vision for the future of environmentally-friendly fashion. Interactive presentations were given by clothing experts wearing the best sustainable designs and materials.

The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion currently has eight member organisations, namely Connect4Climate, a World Bank Group; the International Labour Organisation; ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative; the UN Development Programme; the UN Economic Commission for Europe; UN Environment, UN Global Compact and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.

The common platform hosts UN agencies that are working to make fashion sustainable: For instance, The Food and Agricultural Organization is promoting Blue Fashion, which uses sustainable marine materials and protects arable land; the International Trade Centre has set-up the Ethical Fashion Initiative to spotlight artisans from the developing world and UN Environment is pushing governments to foster sustainable manufacturing practices.

Fashion failing to take every opportunity for sustainability

“Research shows that fashion presents many opportunities for reducing waste and improving the environment. But the fashion industry cuts across many sectors, and so to capture the full opportunity, the UN and its partners need an integrated approach that goes beyond individual Sustainable Development Goals,” explained H.E. Siim Kiisler, president of the UN Environment Assembly, at the launch.

The Alliance will also participate in a number of upcoming events such as the SDG Investment Forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 20th March, the 33rd UN/CEFACT Forum in Geneva, Switzerland on 1st April, the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference in Cape Town, South Africa on 10th April and many more throughout the year to promote sustainable fashion.

Photo: UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion website
un alliance for sustainable fashion