A “trigger for bringing real creativity and passion into the industry.” That’s how the newly formed UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion sees the issue of sustainability. Launched last week at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, the Alliance seeks to halt the now well-documented environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion by uniting various UN agencies across a common platform.
Different UN institutions have tried to encompass fashion within their respective initiatives. For example, The Food and Agricultural Organization promotes Blue Fashion, which uses sustainable marine materials and protects arable land; the International Trade Centre (ITC) has set-up the Ethical Fashion Initiative to spotlight artisans from the developing world, and UN Environment is lobbying governments to foster sustainable manufacturing practices. However, because the fashion industry cuts across many sectors, the UN and its partners decided an integrated approach was needed to create greater awareness about the need for sustainability in fashion, which in turn, it is hoped, will lead to changing consumption and production habits.
The Alliance currently has eight member organizations, 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. Its aim is to analyze their individual efforts, identify solutions and gaps in their actions, and present these findings to governments to influence policy.
And to help further its efforts to promote sustainable fashion, the Alliance will also participate in a number of upcoming events throughout the year, including the SDG Investment Forum in Sao Paulo, designed to encourage greater local investment to further the UN’s Social Development Goals; the 33rd UN/CEFACT Forum in Geneva, which aims to facilitate trade between governments and the private sector; and the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference in Cape Town, which this year will focus on the African market and the power of the continent as a creative, manufacturing and retail hub.
“Everyone wears clothes, everyone wants to look and feel good, and everyone wants a healthy environment in which they and future generations can thrive,” said Michael Stanley-Jones, the co-secretary of the new Alliance, speaking prior to the launch. “The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion is committed to making this a future that leaves no one behind.”