Filippa K Discusses Fashion and Climate at the UN

Filippa K Sustainability Director Elin Larsson reflects on her encounters at UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as about 50 stakeholders aimed to find common ground for a joint climate statement from the fashion industry, aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Two days of inspiration, discussions, sharing of knowledge and experiences, talking about barriers but also opportunities have left me hopeful that we will be able to find a common ground for a joint climate statement from the fashion industry, aligned with the Paris Agreement. UNFCCC had gathered about 50 stakeholders representing different parts of the industry for this start up meeting. We all agreed that collaboration is crucial to create the necessary change, that we want to widen the group as much as possible going forward and that we want to address the sector’s impact on climate change and support a broader action. And to do so under UNFCCC’s umbrella is a unique opportunity to have a global voice and facilitator.

In advance to the meeting we asked our customers, peers, colleagues, suppliers and other great minds for their input and we got so much good responses, thanks so much for that! Your voting on the proposed actions created this priority.

What should we at Filippa K focus more on?

  1. Decrease the use of resources in production, for example water and chemicals
  2. Increase the use of recycled and more sustainable materials
  3. Reduce waste through the products life cycle
  4. Offer long-lasting products in both quality and style
  5. Guide customers on how to create a more sustainable wardrobe
  6. Increase transparency through the whole value chain
  7. Use of renewable energy in production and our own facilities
  8. Offer all products extended life through garment care, repairs, rental and second hand
  9. Encourage recycling of worn out clothes
  10. Promote more sustainable transportation

What should we push policymakers to focus on?

  1. Promote product transparency and traceability
  2. Implement a precautionary principle for chemical products to make sure no hazardous chemicals are being released on the market
  3. Encourage a holistic ecosystem approach in line with the planetary boundaries
  4. Economic incentives for long life design, reuse and recycling of products
  5. Paying the true cost for resources like water and energy
  6. Removal of counteracting subsidies like the ones for cotton and oil

/Elin Larsson

« The discussions left me hopeful that we will be able to find a common ground for a joint climate statement from the fashion industry, aligned with the Paris Agreement »

Additional ideas and thoughts raised issues like the need for traceability, the problems with chemicals and micro-plastics, lack of communication, encouraging of recycling and extended producer responsibility, addressing the social aspects and also the need of more strategic advises on how to move the dialogue forward. We highlighted the things you wanted us to focus on and passed on your own ideas during the meeting.

One of the questions we discussed was: What are the main obstacles to enhance climate/sustainable actions in our organizations? We ended up with several answers. Lack of clear business cases, stakeholders not pushing strongly enough, different local legislations around the globe. The fact that the biggest impacts occur outside our own processes and facilities, lack of alignment between the sustainability department and the rest of the company, and last but not least – lack of awareness (both top management but also in general) and low realisation on how big the problem with climate change really is, how serious it is and how hard it is going to hit us if we do not change. We discussed how other crisis have led to a transformative change, like Rana Plaza. But in the climate change case, we cannot wait until the crisis is here, because then it is too late. We need to start acting now!

We also agreed on that enhanced commitments could be hindered by lack of policy regulations, lack of knowledge, lack of willingness from consumers to pay, but even so, the willingness to do this from the stakeholders in the room is not limited by those barriers. We also concluded that there is a lot of data out there to support better choices, but perhaps that data needs to be better harmonised, improved and public available for everyone.

Next step is to define the purpose of the dialogue and select and formulate focus areas. The list of potential focus areas after these two days is long, which says something about the engagement and the high ambition that was set during the meeting. The hard part will be to prioritize, which is crucial for us to succeed.

And, finally, we at Filippa K have high hopes for the continuation and are thankful for the dialogue that UNFCCC has initiated. It has the potential to be the key driver for the transformative change we need to create.

Sentences that stood out during the meeting:

“We are standing at a turning point in history.”
“We are falling behind, 2017 was a year of climate disasters.”
“The value that fashion provides is enormous, but also the footprint.”
“We need an even playfield over the globe.”
“We need a diversity of solutions.”
“We need science based targets and goals.”
“Not only preach to the already convinced.”
“Start talking about value cases instead of business cases.”
“We need to humanise climate change.”
“Now we do not only need the leaders, but the majority to engage.”
“UNFCCC stand ready to help.”

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