UNITED BY ACTION: CATALYZING THE SUSTAINABLE Development goals in textiles



Textile Exchange has committed to creating a target call to action for the textile industry around adopting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

what are the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them. The 17 SDGs represent aspirational goals addressing social, economic and environmental problems throughout the world. The SDGs are universal in their application and while 2030 seems in the distant future, it is a mere 13 years away. In order to achieve the SDGs within this relatively short time frame, Textile Exchange believes that its Members and the apparel and textile industry (Industry) must start integrating the SDGs into their own business strategies.

TEXTILE EXCHANGE SUPPORTS THE #GLOBALGOALS

At Textile Exchange, we believe we can advance the SDG agenda by:

  • Educating the industry on the SDG opportunity;
  • Defining priorities for SDG engagement through a stakeholder process;
  • Facilitating integration of the SDGs into the textile value network;
  • Leveraging existing and new collaborative tools to assist the Industry in measuring and reducing impacts of individual actors and the industry as a whole;
  • Developing industry standards that set global benchmarks and shape the direction of land management and ecosystem services;
  • Identifying opportunities for collective Industry action;
  • Developing a textile-specific industry matrix for preferred fibers and other textile best practices to deliver on the SDGs; and
  • Reporting and communicating on the Industry’s SDG performance.

business case for the SDGs

The themes covered by the SDGs such as poverty, hunger, health and wellbeing, education, equality, sanitation, decent work to name a few all reflect issues that not only impact quality of life, security and fundamental human rights across the globe but also directly impact the apparel and textile value network. Textile Exchange and its Membership of brands, retailers and suppliers is in a perfect position to catalyze action under Sustainable Development Goals for our Sector as they have done for fiber and materials and standards.

TEXTILE EXCHANGE PRINCIPLES FOR SDG ENGAGEMENT

PREFERRED FIBERS DELIVER ON THE SDGs |  Textile Exchange has spent the last 15 years making the business case for the importance of companies in the Apparel and Textile sectors to develop a fiber portfolio which includes “preferred fibers.” Preferred fibers and materials (PFM) are defined as a fiber, material or product that is ecologically and socially progressive; one that has been selected because it has more sustainable properties in comparison to other options.

Ways to recognize or achieve a preferred status include:

  • A recognized industry standard in place that confirms the preferred status
  • Sustainability criteria developed through a formalized, multi-stakeholder process
  • Objectively tested or verified as having superior sustainability attributes, such as through a peer-reviewed Life Cycle Assessment

The goal is that PFMs are produced to a globally accepted standard, with strict criteria that qualifies the product as preferred, and can be traced through the supply chain. Based on Textile Exchange research and its Material Snapshots, preferred fibers deliver lower impacts on agricultural impacts, water consumption, energy consumption and waste to name just a few areas.  In the case of organic cotton, Textile Exchange has made the business case that it can deliver on all of the SDGs.  Check out our Material Snapshots here.

BENCHMARK YOUR COMPANY’S SDG STRATEGY | At Textile Exchange, we believe that adoption of more preferred fiber and materials is one of the barometers of meaningful transformation within the textile industry. For the first time, we’ve created a link between the choice of preferred fiber and materials and the collective impacts under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have an expiration date of 2030 – a mere 13 years away. A preferred fiber and materials strategy is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’. It has become integrated into the successful business models of many TE Members and is increasingly demanded by consumers and scored by investors. In 2016, 28 of the 71 participating companies are reporting for the first time. Textile Exchange is presently designing the disclosure framework for its 2017 Preferred Fiber and Materials Benchmark Report so that it can offer its Members the opportunity to continue to benchmark their SDG impacts against the industry.

TEXTILE EXCHANGE VALUE NETWORK AND SDG ROUNDTABLE | Textile Exchange has launched an “SDG ACTION ROUNDTABLE” (the “Roundtable”) for the purpose of encouraging apparel and textile brands globally to collaborate on goal setting and reporting under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Textile Exchange plans to create, through a series of Roundtable discussions, a forum for the development of a plan for the Industry to collaborate on achieving positive SDG outcomes and impacts. We invite you to help us achieve the SDG Agenda by supporting the Roundtable by contacting us.

LEARNING CENTER | Textile Exchange has a growing body of webinars to help companies map their supply chain, develop a fiber strategy, implement standards and create a plan to incorporate the SDGs into their strategies. Please contact us or check out our Learning Center.

SDG Resources

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