Fashion is not a topic often debated at the United Nations, and yet this global industry provides a perfect focus for action to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2015, world leaders adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each global goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030.
While fashion is not expressly mentioned in any of the 17 SDGs or 169 targets, it is inherently linked to most—if not all—of them. From Goal 1 (No poverty) to Goal 17 (Partnerships for Sustainable Development), the fashion industry is both a part of the problem and a part of the solution.
Especially relevant for the fashion industry are Goals 8 (Inclusive and sustainable economic growth) and 12 (Sustainable consumption and production), which include targets ranging from ending modern-day slavery to reducing waste through recycling.
As a global industry with a huge environmental and social footprint, fashion has an enormous impact on the achievement of SDGs. In the same vein, the 17 global goals can provide a useful roadmap for the fashion industry in moving towards sustainability—a topic I’ll be exploring further over the coming weeks.
Moreover, as a highly visible and influential industry, fashion can help popularize the SDGs. Finally, whether the UN itself should take on a more active role in promoting sustainable fashion is a question that I, along with other panelists, will address at the forthcoming conference in Geneva on 1 March.
The event will bring together representatives from UN agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to provide recommendations on how to coordinate action on fashion and the SDGs at the UN level.
And—who knows—perhaps even help make the UN’s global goals a little more ‘fashionable’!