The UN on Thursday launched an alliance to help coordinate its response to the challenges that the textiles, fashion and accessories sectors face in achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
According to Michael Stanley-Jones, program management officer of the poverty-environment facility at UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion aims to put fashion on the path to sustainability by reducing its negative environmental and social impacts.
“We intend to turn fashion into a driver of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Stanley-Jones, co-secretary of the new alliance said during the launch on the sidelines of the ongoing fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi.
He noted that the alliance will enable the institutions to share solutions and technology to popularize the agreed development goals.
He observed that while different UN institutions have tried to encompass fashion in various sustainability initiatives, the launch will mark a more comprehensive approach to address all aspects of the sustainable fashion industry.
“We are doing the mapping to see where the gaps exist, conduct analysis and then make recommendations to UN member states for action in their own countries,” he said.
“Fashion accounts for eight percent to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined,” he added.
Stanley-Jones observed that more than 500 billion U.S. dollars of value is lost every year due to clothing under-utilization and the lack of recycling and places pressure on fragile ecosystems through unsustainable sourcing of materials.
According to Stanley-Jones, the alliance seeks to open a collaborative dialogue with key players in various aspects of the industry to create tangible, beneficial and lasting solutions that will ensure the fashion is able to adapt and thrive.
He said that the textiles and clothing industries contribute 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars to the global manufacturing sector and employ approximately 75 million people worldwide, most of them women.
The UN official added that the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, producing 20 percent of wastewater, and releases half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually.