Climate Action

The UN launches Alliance for sustainable fashion

The United Nations has launched an Alliance for sustainable fashion in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • 18 March 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

The United Nations has launched an Alliance for sustainable fashion in Nairobi, Kenya.

The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion is seeking to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, instead allowing it to become a source to improve the world’s ecosystems.

Fast-fashion has emerged as an environmentally damaging ‘hobby’ with recent reports outing the industry as being wasteful and unsustainable.

The textile industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating around 20 per cent of the world’s wastewater.  Not only does the fashion industry contribute to water waste, it also contributes heavily to microfibre pollution.

Nadya Hutagalung, a household name across Asia, said: “Many people succumb to buying seasonal trends that then get thrown away within a couple of months, and it’s just not sustainable. At the launch of the UN Sustainable Fashion Alliance we get to see people developing new fibers that are sustainable, have low water impact and low impact on the environment where they’re produced.”

The new Alliance will create a platform and dialogue for a host of new UN agencies that are working to make fashion sustainable. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is promoting Blue Fashion, which uses sustainable marine materials and protects arable land.

The practice of sustainable fashion also has social benefits. By greening the value-chain it creates more jobs and opportunities for rural workers, especially smallholder farmers or those working in forestry.

H.E. Siim Kiisler, President of the UN Environment Assembly, said: “Research shows that fashion presents many opportunities for reducing waste and improving the environment. But the fashion industry cuts across many sectors, and so to capture the full opportunity, the UN and its partners need an integrated approach that goes beyond individual Sustainable Development Goals.”

Photograph: UNEP