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The Sustainability Pledge is gathering momentum with commitments from across the garment and footwear industry, government, campaign groups and academia

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Commitments to The Sustainability Pledge are gathering speed as signatories and developers of the UNECE-brokered recommendations for improved sustainability and ethical practice in the garment and footwear sector gather for a three-day event on the sidelines of Milan Fashion Week.

Textile and leather manufacturers, campaign groups and academic bodies are signing up to The Sustainability Pledge, bringing the total to date, to 42 pledges with actions from over 100 companies and organisations.

The Italian government announced today that they would be using the UNECE policy recommendations to develop legislation on circularity in the garment industry. The Italian garment and footwear industry generated a turnover of some EUR 40 bn in 2020 and Italian yarns and textiles supply factories in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.

“Italy has taken a leading role in exploring how digital technologies can give consumers reliable information on the life of products, and help producers, particularly SMEs, increase the sustainability of their processes,” said Maria Benedetta Francesconi, Head of the Division at the Directorate General for Industrial Policy, Innovation and SMEs, of the Ministry of Economic Development, Italy. “We welcome the findings of the blockchain pilot under The Sustainability Pledge and are promoting such initiatives under the Italian Presidency of the G20."

Companies submitting pledges, or signing on as partners, include: Inditex, Mulberry, Scottish Leather Group and Vivienne Westwood, among others.

Vivienne Westwood’s pledge included a commitment to gather traceability and transparency data from the sourcing of raw materials to the distribution and retail at their stores for a pair of re-cycled denim jeans and a shirt, a process conducted in collaboration with Italian arts and creativity lab Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto. Mulberry committed to improve traceability and transparency through its entire leather product supply chain – some 90% of Mulberry products incorporate leather. Scottish Leather Group committed to make 100% of its hides traceable and measure their carbon footprint.

The Clean Clothes Campaign, the garment industry’s largest grouping of labour unions and NGOs that campaigns for improved working conditions for garment sector workers, pledged their ‘Fashion Checker’ project that assesses brands on their supply chain transparency credentials and policies towards delivering a living wage for sector employees.

“Consumers are rightly calling for sustainability and ethical practices in the garment industry and we wish to respond to them. I call on all actors, from fabric producers and high street fashion brands to campaigners and academia to join The Sustainability Pledge.” said Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the UNECE.  

Italian graduate business school SDA Bocconi School of Management, submitted a multi-signatory pledge from their Sustainability Lab. Their action is ‘The Monitor for Circular Fashion’, a scientific and technical community of companies that map and analyse industry dynamics and trends and identify Key Performance Indicators for a path towards circular business models in the sector.

Note to editors

The Sustainability Pledge invites governments, garment and footwear manufacturers and industry stakeholders to pledge to apply a series of policy recommendations, implementations guidelines and standard for improved transparency and traceability through the garment and footwear supply chain, developed as part of a UN-brokered package of solutions. The Sustainability Pledge is the culmination of several years of research and development work that brought together stakeholders from across the industry to deliver a practical solution for positive change towards more circular economic processes. Their findings identified the need for greater traceability and transparency in the sector and subsequent launch of a series of pilots using technologies like blockchain and DNA tracking to develop an immutable fingerprint for any item of clothing or pair of shoes.

The Sustainability Pledge is a result of the UNECE project ‘Enhancing Transparency and Traceability of Sustainable Value Chains in Garment and Footwear’ that is being implemented with UN/CEFACT, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and with funding from the European Union

The Sustainability Pledge meets growing demand from consumers for more information on how clothing, textiles and shoes are sourced, manufactured and made. According to Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, the textile and clothing industry has a turnover of 162 billion euros in Europe alone. Millions of people are employed through the sector’s global supply chains, which are complex and opaque, creating opportunity for the exploitation and abuse of workers, many of whom are women. Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production amount to 1.2 billion tonnes annually - more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

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