New initiative to increase sustainability in global fashion industry

Conservation International, as a Global Environment Facility (GEF) partner agency, recently announced an effort to help raise sustainability in the global fashion industry through science-based initiatives designed to mitigate the sector’s impact on biodiversity loss by creating a new practice to help minimise land-use change, pollution and natural resource extraction.

The project, ‘Transforming the Fashion Sector to Drive Positive Outcomes for Biodiversity, Climate and Oceans,’ is funded by a $2-million grant from the GEF and will be co-executed by Conservation International and The Fashion Pact, a global coalition of companies in the fashion and textile industry who have committed to a common core of key environmental goals in three areas: climate, biodiversity and oceans.

The effort will develop and share best-practices designed to clean supply chains, improve agricultural practices, decrease deforestation, and support livelihoods.

The sustainability guidance will provide a roadmap for The Fashion Pact’s signatory companies and brands to help ensure they drive positive environmental change that will benefit both nature and communities, Conservation International said in a press release.

In October 2020, The Fashion Pact announced Conservation International as its technical partner in its commitments to biodiversity restoration and protection. It also committed to its first concrete conservation targets including the development of a biodiversity strategy designed to encourage zero deforestation and sustainable forest management.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the fashion industry was estimated to generate $1.5 trillion in 2020. Alongside its economic impact, it also has a substantial environmental impact, which has continued to grow.

The new GEF-funded project aims to lessen this impact through the completion of five guiding goals:

1) Provide The Fashion Pact signatories, and more generally, the fashion industry with a foundational understanding of environmental impact across fashion supply chains with a focus on production and extraction of raw materials;

2) Create specific analyses to guide the development of action plans for the fashion industry that will address issues related to the intersection of climate change and biodiversity loss to the benefit of the public;

3) Identify existing projects and opportunities for projects that help the fashion industry to lessen its immediate and long-term environmental impacts including across the cashmere, leather and gold supply chains;

4) Provide the tools needed to help The Fashion Pact track progress toward its goals, encouraging practical action by its member companies; and

5) Measure and monitor the implementation and outcomes of the project’s sustainability progress.

In addition to the GEF funding, this work will be in collaboration with and supported by an additional $2 million provided by Conservation International and other partners, including The Biodiversity Consultancy, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, The Dragonfly Initiative, The Impact Facility, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Textile Exchange, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Green Commodities Programme, the UNEP, the Wildlife Friendly Enterpise Network and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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