CEO Agenda 2019 launches at Davos, urges fashion industry to address climate change


Sustainable organisation Global Fashion Agenda has released the second edition of its CEO Agenda at Davos this week, presenting the eight sustainability priorities every fashion CEO needs to address in order to become more sustainable – including climate change. Presented at Davos House during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, the report was developed in collaboration with leading players in the fashion sustainability field, including brands such as Bestseller, H&M Group, Kering and Target.

Sustainability is no longer a trend, but a business imperative, says the Agenda. With that sense of urgency, the report has been updated from 2018 to add climate change as one of its core priorities, echoing what other sustainability experts have been saying at major conferences over the past few months.

“Climate change is an unprecedented threat to people and the planet. We only have 11 years to rectify the catastrophic impact we’ve had on our planet or we’ll miss the objective of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius,” said Eva Kruse, CEO and president of the Global Fashion Agenda. “We know that change is not easy, but overall progress is too slow, and we simply can’t afford to lose another year. The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest and most powerful industries. Therefore, we need to take leadership to secure the future of our industry – and our planet.”

The report further explains that although fashion has increasingly been working on pressing issues such as chemical usage and circularity, it must also address the impact on climate change more proactively. At present, new research by UNFCCC states that total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production amount to 1.2bn tonnes annually, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

The updated Agenda now highlights four core priorities for immediate implementation, with climate change being the new addition. This includes: supply chain traceability; efficient use of water, energy and chemicals; respectful and secure work environments; and lastly, combating climate change. The other four transformational priorities for fundamental change remain the same from 2018, as follows: sustainable material mix; circular fashion system; promotion of better wage systems; and fourth industrial revolution.

The report also directly speaks to fashion leaders and asks them to further engage in the topic of conversation in light with how slow progress has been: at present, only 50% of the industry has taken any action on sustainability. “As fashion leaders you’re in a unique position to turn things around, holding the power to make sustainability an integral part of your business strategy, and thus of the fashion industry as a whole,” reads the report.

The organization has also announced ASOS, Nike and PVH Corp. as new Strategic Partners who will be working with the Global Fashion Agenda on providing expert opinions to help shape the agenda and play a role in developing though leadership content. 

“We believe that the world needs to urgently work towards creating a sustainable future – one where everyone thrives on a healthy planet and a level-playing field,” adds Nike CEO Mark Parker. “We are committed to innovating our way into that future, both within Nike and in partnership with others.”

The CEO Agenda 2019 is available to read online.

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