ICC joins fashion industry to make sustainability everyone’s business

  • 21 May 2019

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) participated at the 2019 Copenhagen Fashion Summit on 15-16 May to encourage fashion brands to implement sustainable and equitable business practices.

As a Permanent Observer to the United Nations, ICC is committed to ensuring that business consumption and production patterns align with the UN Sustainability and Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the UN 2030 Charter. In December 2018, ICC became a signatory of the UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which aims to address the climate impact of the fashion sector’s global supply chain.

By recognising this need for change, ICC joined global brands at the 2019 Copenhagen Fashion Summit to address the social, environmental, and ethical issues facing the fashion industry’s global supply chain, including climate change, energy efficiency, the circular economy, labour conditions, and overconsumption. The event attracted 1300 guests and 78 speakers presented on topics from executive leadership to policy and investment strategies.

During a keynote address, Paul Polman, Chair of ICC, called for the fashion industry to implement sustainable and equitable business models to promote social and environmental change. Mr Polman’s address touched upon several business-led initiatives aimed at improving sustainability, including circular models of production and the acceleration of new technologies.

At the core of Mr Polman’s address was the need for courageous leadership across the fashion industry. “If we don’t change the measures of what we call success, we simply won’t get there. We all have a role to play, we cannot be bystanders,” he said. To implement the SDGs across the global fashion supply chain, leaders will need to be bold and implement radical changes to their existing business models.

Business must unite to create systemic change within the fashion industry and implement SDGs. “We need leaders to work in partnership – leaders that understand the power of purpose,” he said. Mr. Polman’s address received widespread media coverage, including articles in both Forbes and Vogue.

Following his address, Mr Polman was joined on stage by Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the French Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, who emphasised the importance of fostering business and government collaboration to promote sustainable development, especially in light of the upcoming G7 Summit, which will take place in Biarritz, France this August.

“We need to stop looking at the environment in silos, we need to bring it all together and the fashion industry is the best example of this,” said Ms Poirson.

This discussion reinforced ICC’s commitment to promote further collaboration between business, government, and society to address the social and environmental impact of the global supply chain. ICC is devoted to mobilising its global network — from SMEs in the supply chain to major high street and luxury brands – to address the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry.

On ICC’s participation at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said: “ICC has the global reach and experience to help turn the fashion industry into a driver of change by helping business mainstream transparency and sustainability across the global value chain.”
As the world business organization, ICC will continue to work alongside stakeholders in the fashion industry and beyond to make sure that environmental challenges are everyone’s business. Last week, ICC Secretary General Denton issued a letter to Environment Ministers of all UN Member States calling for bold, forward-looking recommendations on protecting and preserving our environment.