UNCTAD establishes three partnerships to boost fashion industry´s support of biodiversity

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UNCTAD establishes three partnerships to boost fashion industry´s support of biodiversity

Geneva, Switzerland, 1 June 2011

Geneva, 1 June 2011 - UNCTAD has set up three new partnerships with the fashion industry to strengthen collaboration with this economic sector in efforts to support biodiversity and sustainable use of the environment.

  • The organization has jointly created an award category within the Fashioning the Future Awards campaign. The campaign, which is based at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion of the London College of Fashion, seeks to motivate fashion students in their last year of study, and recent graduates around the world, to pursue environmentally sustainable fashion design. The "Unique Balance" awards category invites participants to explore conceptual and creative ways in which to visualize fashion that protects biodiversity. To date, more the 1,300 young designers have applied for the awards. The deadline for the submission of projects is 15 June. UNCTAD will take part in the selection of the winning projects. UNCTAD´s BioTrade Initiative will then publicize these projects as examples of new thinking focused on maintaining biodiversity through innovative design and the sustainable use of natural materials.
  • UNCTAD is also collaborating with the Coknit Connect of the European Institute of Design Madrid. This research and experimentation project seeks to provide a sound basis for design students to use materials in innovative ways and in collaboration with clothing companies such as Zara and Mango. It is expected that the project will result in the creation of limited series of appealing, trend-conscious fashion products made from recovered and/or recycled clothing and fabrics.
  • And the organization has recently launched a partnership with The Green Fashion Competition of the Amsterdam International Fashion Week. It will support the competition´s effort to identify talented entrepreneurs in the industry who aim to create fashion businesses that sustain biodiversity. UNCTAD also will support efforts to find financial resources for these entrepreneurs and will help publicize the fashions produced.

The fashion industry can play a significant role in conserving biodiversity through innovation and new ideas. The industry makes extensive use of raw materials derived from biodiversity, such as natural fabrics and animal skins. In addition, textiles and clothing are a vital economic sector. They account for close to 7 per cent of global trade.

In 2010, during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 193 governments adopted a landmark agreement on "Living in harmony with nature". Under the terms of the agreement, "By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people´´. The agreement has led UNCTAD to intensify its efforts to promote production and trade that both raises living standards in developing countries and protects biodiversity through well-designed and sustainable use of the Earth´s many commercially valuable species.

The development of collaborative partnerships with the fashion industry allows UNCTAD´s BioTrade Initiative to spread information on new ideas and production methods that are being applied in the fields of fashion and biodiversity. These collaborations also help UNCTAD to incorporate biodiversity thinking into academic curricula. And they enable the organization to learn from the progress made by young and emerging designers.

Global consumers follow trends set by high-fashion brands; and products and methods that protect biodiversity may lead to their applications in mass market retailing. Through high fashion, the biodiversity theme thus has the potential to filter down to broader populations of consumers.

Further information on these initiatives can be obtained at:

Fashioning the Future Awards:

Coknit Connect:

The Green Fashion Competition: