Have You Taken The Sustainability Pledge Yet?

The public is pushing organisations to go even further with initiatives focused on transparency and traceability. Could The Sustainability Pledge provide the foundation for this?

If someone asked you to pick the least sustainable industry you could think of, what would you say? Would it be travel, with the impact of air travel on the environment? How about utilities, where clean energy sources are matched with pictures of brand new, coal-fired power stations? How about electronics, with the huge impact of mining precious metals for our latest gadgets?

Or would it be fashion? The fashion industry is something of a sustainability boogeyman in many people’s eyes. Questions are consistently asked about how we can stem the tide of fast fashion, or reduce consumption to help the planet. Whether it is the least sustainable industry or not (a question for another day…), there is no faulting global efforts to change this view.

Now and in the future, procurement will play a key role in the development of the Circular Economy in every industry, as organisational leaders now understand the need to include procurement in their sustainability platform, not just as an interested party, but as a strategic partner from the outset.

As this develops, it will be initiatives like ‘The Sustainability Pledge’ that will enable organisations to make a significant, and long-lasting, impact for future generations.

The Sustainability Pledge – What is it?

The Sustainability Pledge has been developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), in conjunction with global experts, organisations and charities to establish a “workable and verifiable way of ensuring sustainability in the garment and footwear sector.”

It is open to any organisation, in any country, to register a Pledge detailing their initiatives, plans and processes of how they intend to support the drive towards a more sustainable future.

Why was it created?

As we have alluded to, the environmental impact in terms of pollution and carbon emissions, as well as the major issue of human exploitation, in the garment and footwear industry represent one of the biggest threats to Planet Earth. 

However, in the past, organisations have had to rely on difficult to verify information to show how they are producing their goods more sustainably. The Sustainability Pledge offers tools and information on how to trace materials within the supply chain, as well as monitor supplier activities, and prove the strength of their claims.

How does it work?

The UNECE has built their approach using blockchain technology to create an information exchange standard in order to trace every piece of raw material in garments and footwear, from source to finished article. 

Not only does this ensure a more sustainable manufacturing process, but it also builds a base of knowledge on clothing and footwear, making it ultimately easier to recycle and repurpose them at the end of their lifespan.

The UNECE has also created a toolbox, including guidelines, action plans and policy recommendations, designed to help Governments and organisations understand how they can add their knowledge and information within the blockchain.

How do I pledge?

If you are an organisation of any size operating in the garment and footwear industry, you can register your pledge on The Sustainability Pledge website. You’ll be joining thousands of other companies, including household names like Vivienne Westwood and Mulberry, as well as national organisations in textile production, in building this information exchange standard.

And while its genesis is in the fashion industry, a proof of concept will most certainly lead to similar initiatives in other areas.

Why your procurement team should lead the way

Procurement cannot take a back seat when it comes to sustainability efforts such as this – it is key that the profession helps by leading from the front. The fight against the climate crisis is not winnable with individual action, it is only in the collective effort of the global community that we can make that exponential impact.

And, as we have seen recently, there are fantastic organisations, such as The Faculty Awards of Excellence Sustainability Project of the Year Winner, The Australian Universities Procurement Network, proving the impact procurement can, and must, make in this area.

It’s down to procurement to push their organisation to register their Pledge, push towards initiatives in other industries, or even create their own for others to support. The time for action is now – make your pledge today.