UNECE’s Accelerating action for a sustainable and circular garment and footwear industry, through transparency and traceability of value chains is a three-year project aiming to enhance transparency and traceability in the garment and footwear industry value chains. From its very beginning in 2019, Candiani Denim has taken part as an expert advisor.
How is the garment and footwear sector (not) sustainable?
The garment and footwear sector is one of the least sustainable in the world and its enormous environmental footprint causes some important risks for human health and society. Its value chain is particularly complex and often very difficult to identify where such negative effects are and, as a result, to adopt the necessary actions.
In the future, the most recent fast fashion trends and the increasing demand of the emerging economies are supposed to make the negative impacts of the garment and footwear industry on both the environment and human health and working conditions even worse.
UNECE, together with its United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and e-Business (UN/CEFACT), has then engaged with a number of garment and footwear industry stakeholders, including Candiani Denim, to identify both its challenges and opportunities.
UNECE is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It was established in 1947 by ECOSOC, the United Nations Economic and Social Council to promote pan-European economic integration. 56 countries located in Europe, North America, and Asia are UNECE members, but any United Nations member state can contribute to UNECE’s work if interested.
Transparency and traceability are the priority of the fashion industry
Transparency and traceability of the fashion value chain have been identified by the key actors of the garment and footwear industry as a priority. The aim is to enhance the trust of the consumers, manage both resources and relations with all the business partners in a better way to discover and address any potential labor and human rights violations and harmful environmental impacts, and combat reputational risks. At the same time, the idea is to promote more responsible consumption and production methods, circularity, and inclusive development.
Many companies do not have a thorough view of their business partners' network through the entire value chain and are not aware of the full story that lies behind their final products. Most of them are able to point out only their immediate suppliers, but they lose information about those further upstream.
The purposes of UNECE’s project are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8 and 12 of the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development. As explained by the United Nations, SDG 8 is to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all, while SDG 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
What are UNECE’S transparency and traceability project goals?
Over the period 2019-2022, the UNECE transparency and traceability project aims at setting up a policy recommendation & dialogue platform, developing traceability standards & implementation guidelines, and driving blockchain pilots & capacity building.
The Sustainability Pledge has also been launched as part of UNECE’s work. It is an invitation to governments, garment and footwear manufacturers, and all the stakeholders to pledge to be compliant to the measures set up by the commission and improve the environmental and ethical standards of the industry.