The global fashion industry is one of the largest and most influential industries on the planet. It generates over USD 1.7 trillion in revenues annually, and employs 60-75 million people in value chains that are spread across the globe. The industry has served as ‘a stepping stone to development’ in many countries, and continues to do so in many developing nations.
Like many other industries, the fashion sector can also result in heavy environmental damage, with impacts on nature occurring throughout the fashion supply chain. The fashion industry draws heavily on land and natural resources for raw materials, sourcing from animal agriculture, mining, forestry and hunting production systems. Processing and manufacturing also have considerable water and carbon footprints, and generate chemical and micro-plastic pollutants. Finally, vast amounts of waste are generated during the production process, and through overproduction and disposal of items. Together, these damaging outputs can have myriad direct a indirect negative impacts on species and habitats.
In an effort to address this, 56 global fashion and textile companies partners have committed to a Fashion Pact, which was launched at the G7 Summit in in August 2019, and includes the following specific commitments:
- Stop global warming: by creating and deploying an action plan for achieving the objective of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in order to keep global warming below a 1.5°C pathway between now and 2100.
- Restore biodiversity: by achieving objectives that use Science-Based Targets to restore natural ecosystems and protect species.
- Protect the oceans: by reducing the fashion industry’s negative impact on the world’s oceans through practical initiatives, such as gradually removing the usage of single-use plastics.
These 56 companies represent around 250 brands and an estimated 25% of all global fashion by volume.
As an example of how companies are engaging on the second pillar of this pact around biodiversity, Kering commissioned a piece of work to inform their corporate biodiversity strategy beyond 2020. The work explored potential risks to ecosystems and species throughout the supply chain, drawing on Kering’s comprehensive Environmental Profit and Loss accounting. Then, the Conservation Hierarchy framework was used to identify a suite of practical steps that could be taken to mitigate these risks, and proactively contribute to ecosystem restoration and species protection. The Conservation Hierarchy helped to prioritise actions which could be taken throughout and independently of their business operations, and bring them together under a single cohesive framework.
Based on this, Kering are now implementing a range of specific actions under the Conservation Hierarchy steps, across their production systems and supply chains. In particular, Kering are committed to:
Avoiding negative impacts on biodiversity through only sourcing zero deforestation leather
The issue: The production of leather at the farm level can potentially have significant negative environmental impacts, including the direct impacts of farm production systems, such as conversion of natural habitat to pasture.
The approach: Kering is committed to ensuring that its leather is sourced in the most responsible and sustainable manner, with a mandatory sourcing principle that ensures no leather comes from farms involved in any form of deforestation in the Amazon biome.
Minimising negative impacts on biodiversity though 100% organic cotton sourcing
The issue: The majority of global cotton production uses vast quantities of pesticides and fertilisers, which can have direct environmental and human health impacts, as well as degrading land quality.
The approach: Kering’s is committed to using only traceable and sustainably cultivated cotton in its supply chains, with an objective of 100% organic cotton sourcing by 2025. This shift in cotton supply will thus minimise pollution due to the use of chemical inputs and green house gas emissions linked with cotton cultivation.
Restoring degraded ecosystems through the South Gobi sustainable cashmere program
The issue: Most of the world’s goat herding for cashmere production takes place in Central Asia and particularly Inner Mongolia. One of the most critical issues with cashmere production is the environmental degradation due to rapidly expanding goat herds and overgrazing.
The approach: Kering is committed to sourcing cashmere from the South Gobi cashmere program, which is designed to promote and encourage practices that enable grassland restoration, improved livelihoods and wildlife friendly herding practices.
Offsetting residual green house gas emissions through the REDD+ Carbon offset program
The issue: Carbon emissions occur throughout fashions supply chains, due to land conversion and degradation, as well as manufacturing and transportation.
The approach: While Kering’s efforts to avoid and minimise its footprint across the supply chain will continue to be prioritised, Kering is also offsetting all its remaining annual emissions through verified best-in-class REDD+ projects that conserve critical forests and biodiversity, and support the livelihoods of local communities. Kering has prioritized the conservation of biodiversity for years and the 2018 offsets will equal nearly 2 million hectares of important forests around the world. Forests act as a carbon sink and the protection of these forests will support the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and help mitigate climate change.