UN brings together industry actors for action on sustainability in the garment and footwear sector


UN brings together industry actors for action on sustainability in the garment and footwear sector

Over three days, policy makers, campaigners and academics joined with companies and brands from the garment and footwear sector, to welcome The Sustainability Pledge and consider next steps for implementation. Approved by 56 UNECE member States, The Sustainability Pledge is series of policy recommendations, guidelines and standard for improved sustainability and ethical practice through the entire garment and footwear supply chain, from raw materials to point of sale.

The Sustainability Pledge offers an important opportunity for collective action that reaches across the divide that often exists between those making or selling our clothes and shoes and those who campaign for change in the sector, or who are responsible for its regulation. Attendees at a three-day joint UNECE and SDA Bocconi School of Management event from 21 – 23 September shared experience and renewed commitments for action. “The UN is doing what it does best: diplomatically uniting all the players in a non-competitive manner to reach a common solution. This is an important step forward: unity is the only way fashion can successfully effect positive change on a global scale,” said Dana Thomas, author of Fashionopolis, an expose on the impact of the garment and footwear industry and so-called “fast fashion”.

Video recordings from the three-day event can be found in full here.

The garment and footwear sector churns out some 2,1 bn tonnes of CO2 per year – equivalent to 4% of global GHG emissions, according to figures presented by event speaker Nicola Tagliafierro, Head of Global Sustainability at Enel X. Industry insiders, regulators and consumers increasingly acknowledge that this is not sustainable and want change. The European Union has set a target of reducing GHG emission by 55% by 2030 with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. To achieve this ambitious but essential change, industry, commerce and economic activity has to shift to more circular approaches that eliminate waste and respect both the environment and the people who work in all stages of the sector supply chain.

The Sustainability Pledge is a key step towards delivering on that drive towards circularity and was widely welcomed by conference attendees. They reinforced the message that improved traceability and transparency are needed to make sustainability a real and achievable goal.

“It is very important that UN agencies, like UNECE, help the industry in developing a system of traceability. I invite everyone: manufacturers, brands, consumers but also opinion leaders and thinkers to value traceability,” Carlo Capasa, President of the Italian Chamber of Fashion. 

If you wish to subscribe to the UNECE Weekly newsletter, please send an email to: unece_info@un.org