The fashion sector was urged to ‘play its part’ as a framework for nature targets launched

The fashion industry is being urged to “play its part” in protecting the planet as a landmark framework on science-based targets for nature is launched for the sector.

The new blueprint, from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, The Fashion Pact initiative and Conservation International, maps out actions that apparel and footwear brands can take to help address practices that harm nature.

The sector depends heavily on nature for raw materials and takes up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, according to UN estimates.

Paul Polman, co-founder of The Fashion Pact, called on fashion executives to help build a “nature-positive economy”.

He said: “In the midst of an ecological crisis, it is more vital than ever for companies to shift to regenerative business models which value, protect and restore nature.

“It’s time for the fashion, textile and apparel industry to play its part in building a nature-positive economy and the CEOs and companies who move without delay will reap the benefits – and so will their investors.”

The blueprint, which was put together in collaboration with the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) and Textile Exchange, calls on brands to determine their impact on nature in both their operations and across their value chains.

This includes the use of raw materials, pesticides, textile waste, deforestation and water use as well as microfibre and microplastic pollution.

The guidance also suggests companies build an understanding of the data they have access to and where gaps in that data exist, as well as tracing material sourcing back to the regional farm or site level for one product or unit.

Finally it urges brands to take part in collaborative action by joining groups like the SBTN or Business for Nature.

Speaking at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen on Tuesday, where the new guidance was launched, Sebastian Troeng, an executive vice president at Conservation International, said measuring biodiversity is “much more complex” than carbon emissions.

“I think that’s why the science-based targets are so important,” he said. “It’s bringing expertise from around the world to define a standard methodology and framework on how to approach biodiversity.

“That’s really essential because if we have a framework and all utilize it, we can compare our respective results, we can learn from each other, we can identify what works, what doesn’t and that way makes progress much faster.”

He said the aim of the new guidance is to also set a pathway to impact “without being so prescriptive that it’s a one-size-fits-all” with different companies having different kinds of impacts on nature.

Eva Von Alvensleben, general secretary of The Fashion Pact, told business leaders at the summit the organization collaborated with brands and executives to establish a “baseline for the industry, aligning all on the same metrics and KPIs to have a starting point to actually measure progress ”.

She said the new blueprint is “a great moment to help us collectively take measurable actions for climate and nature in tandem”.