London - The fashion leaders of tomorrow are acutely aware of the problems they stand to inherit from the current industry which range from pollution to gender inequality and overconsumption. Which is why they insist on making sustainability the primary norm of the fashion industry. In order to achieve this, a number of fashion students from the industry's leading schools came together at the Youth Fashion Summit last week to explore how the fashion industry can play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Afterward, they presented the industry's first ever UN Resolutions draft at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit on May 11, 2017.
"What is really distinctive about this is that we are bringing the system together in a much more holistic manner and in a much more democratic manner for the students," said Dilys Williams, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. "It is the students' voices which are foregrounded." After meeting and negotiating with industry leaders like H&M and Swarovski, as well as NGOs like Greenpeace, the students presented their seven-point UN fashion resolution to over 800 industry leaders at the fashion summit.
Future fashion leaders present first ever UN fashion resolution draft at Copenhagen Fashion Summit
The UN resolution draft included areas which focused on civic empowerment and education as long-term community investments, pollution reduction and implementing a circular system to preserve and reuse valuable resources. It also encourages all fashion industry member and stakeholders to move towards more sustainable ways of production and product end of life, while taking into account the wellbeing of all citizens.
A greater focus on transparency is another area of focus in the UN draft, which encourages fashion industry players to improve the availability of information in order for consumers and stakeholders alike to make more informed decisions. "We aspire to have strong institutions, peace, and justice, clean water and sanitation, responsible innovation and infrastructure for fashion production and consumption, and strive to combat the damage done to society and the environment by the fashion industry," said Katharina Stohr, a fashion student from Austria during the UN resolution draft presentation.
The future fashion leaders of tomorrow also included points on informed fashion consumption, tackling inequality in fashion production and ethical practices. "The Sustainable Development Goals are the most ambitious plan in human history," continued Stohr. "Realizing this ambitious plan, let’s use this enormous creative potential to shift the fashion industry from being a superficial giant to a giant with a purpose that can benefit 8 billion people by 2030. You need to tell a new story that goes beyond merely being a business. And we need you to do it in a way that includes 8 billion people – from the farmers in Uzbekistan to the shopping malls in Copenhagen. We need you not only to listen – we need you to reflect on these words and start telling this story," she concluded.
Following the UN resolution presentation, the students were invited by Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, to present their UN resolutions draft at the UN Global Compact leader summit in New York on September 21, 2017, during the UN General Assembly Week. "What this means is that you, the next generation, have been empowered to write the playbook for the next steps the industry needs to take today, to create the world we want for tomorrow," said Kingo to the fashion students at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. "It is our hope that you, together with leading representatives from the fashion and textile industry will share your perspective with leaders from other summits to get the ball rolling. We need you to create the global trend where sustainable business is the mainstream business."
Read the students full UN resolution draft below:
1. Expects the fashion industry to begin immediately working with non-profit initiatives and government groups to reduce inequality, alleviate poverty and ensure food security, with progress made by 2030, including through:
(a) helping to reduce inequality by reinvesting 0,7% of annual sales to support local manufacturing communities;
b) providing all workers with access to free health insurance, day care facilities, a meal a day and professional training;
c) suggesting governments and industry leaders enforce sustainable agricultural practices to help ensure food security by increasing the share of organic polyculture farming by 50%;
2. Urges all stakeholders in the fashion industry to establish global and local partnerships to make the world a more equitable, just and peaceful place, by:
(a) requesting all stakeholders to collaborate on breaking existing barriers between people, companies and member states to enable a flow of sustainable progress;
(b) welcoming the UN to develop a full sustainability report by 2020 that provides a holistic evaluation of the fashion industry, measuring performance not only in relation to monetary value;
(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate the implementation of a third-party organ by 2025 to monitor the status of collaboration between stakeholders related to the fashion industry;
(d) insisting that fashion stakeholders fully commit to a standardized performance system, by 2025;
3. Compels relevant stakeholders to strengthen the human bond, from maker to wearer, through education and changing the mindsets of producers and consumers by:
(a) requiring fashion companies to provide on company websites, labels, social media, and in reports transparent information per garment of each step in the whole supply chain by 2030;
(b) demanding manufacturers to empower workers by prioritizing educational activities regarding labor rights, personal financial growth, leadership, and worker representation in 10% collective ownerships;
(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate an interactive platform in at least five languages, bringing people together to take action against inequality by participating in online courses and webinars, involving industry leaders, government, organizations and companies;
4. Requests stakeholders to protect and restore our natural capital by:
(a) implementing ecological systems and recycling technologies throughout the value chain by substituting conventional cotton, reducing landfills, and eliminating textile waste in the fashion sector by 2030;
(b) encouraging fashion companies and manufacturers to immediately commit to water stewardship programs and to disclose personal targets for the same, to protect life below water from microplastic contamination, aiming to eliminate all virgin plastic by 2030;
(c) insisting that brands and governments support manufacturers and producers in eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals and materials, complying with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce pesticide use by 50% by 2022, achieving total elimination by 2030;
5. Calls on the entire fashion industry and the involved member states to lead the global preservation of and access to freshwater for all by 2025 through intensified research and investment in innovative technologies by:
(a) reducing water pollution and the release of harmful chemicals by 50% in 2025 and by 100% in 2030;
(b) introducing closed-loop water recycling legislation on a government level;
(c) implementing shared value community water management in collaboration with governments, NGOs, industries, and local communities, as well as stressing the urgency and awareness of these issues through education provided by member states and the fashion industry;
6. Obliges stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that, by 2030, 100% of the total energy used in the fashion supply chain will be renewable energy by:
(a) inviting all member states to ensure renewable energy practices by encouraging public and private partnerships throughout the fashion supply chain, reaching a binding commitment agreed upon by 2018;
(b) requesting that all organizations’ energy consumption statistics be published for public access;
(c) requiring the entire fashion supply chain to set in place the necessary infrastructure and encourage innovation to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency; In commitment to our future,
7. Appeals to all stakeholders to invest in recycling technology and infrastructure with the aim to transition to circular mindsets and systems in fashion production by:
(a) encouraging all member states to adopt already existing technologies to collect and process commercial and industrial textile waste By 2022;
(b) investing in a platform to share information, facilities, and resources to provide guidelines and tools to enable a holistic circular system for all stakeholders in the fashion industry by educating them about circular strategies and solutions by 2020.