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The UN in style: DPI and sustainable fashion

Sustainable Fashion Briefing | Photo credit: Roy Pan/UN DPI NGO

Source: UN iSeek

The Department of Public Information (DPI) and the non-governmental organizations (NGO) community teamed up to discuss the subject of sustainable fashion practices on 16 November in a DPI/NGO Briefing entitled, “Fashion and Sustainability: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good”.

The briefing focused on best practices in reducing excessive consumption of natural resources and practices that can provide low-cost fashion, by adopting sustainable production practices throughout the supply chain.

Underscoring the fashion industry’s tendency to use a large amount of raw materials, including water, Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in DPI, stressed the importance of engaging with the fashion industry to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“Other than being a heavy user of natural resources, the fashion industry and retailers are also among the largest employers in the world, especially for women. How sustainable are their practices? Are they contributing to environmental pollution?” asked Mr. Nasser.

The panel included industry experts, including Lilian Liu from the UN Global Compact, who focused on the urgent need to slow down the current “fast fashion” trend that is resulting in excessive water consumption, discharge of hazardous chemicals, violation of human rights, labor standards, greenhouse-gas emissions, and waste production.

“Check your clothing label. Does it feature sustainable materials?” said Amanda Carr, an international environmental consultant and strategic lead at Canopy Planet. “Our choices can help in boosting the sustainable fashion industry, which is currently a small portion of a huge global market. At present, 105 famous fashion brands have policies and commitments in place to use sustainable materials to make clothing.”

The panel also featured Patrick Duffy, founder of Global Fashion Exchange; Andrea Reyes, Chair of the NYC Fair Trade Coalition; Shivram Punjya, Founder and CEO of benhno; and Aisha Dearwester, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Nest; who talked about practical ways people can take action and on how to support the advancement of local artisans.

The discussion closed with a showcase of fashion collections from sustainable artisans and designers from diverse countries, including Mariama Camara, Nathalia Castrillon, Chirag Nainani, Rachna Nainani, Tara Antoinette, Noor Zakka, Michelle Sheppard, and Shari Grenier.