The rest of the world now needs to follow suit

Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) is one of the leading organisations working on sustainability in fashion. María Luisa Martínez Díez, Public Affairs Director at GFA, speaks to texfash.com about how GFA sees the just-announced EU Textiles Strategy from a global standpoint.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • The publication of both the Strategy and the due diligence proposals from the European Commission is just the first step in the EU decisionmaking process. The co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) now need to endorse and adopt them before they
  • Both the ‘EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles’ and the 'European Commission Communication on Making Sustainable Products the Norm' presented on 30 March include a strong focus on the global level.
EU action will not be enough for this truly global value chain, and there is hope that the EU’s track record of advocating for sustainability worldwide as done for other sectors such as plastics (with the creation of the Global Plastics Agreement) will permeate to textiles.
EU are Next EU action will not be enough for this truly global value chain, and there is hope that the EU’s track record of advocating for sustainability worldwide as done for other sectors such as plastics (with the creation of the Global Plastics Agreement) will permeate to textiles. Global Fashion Agenda

Since GFA is "global", this question is more from a global standpoint. How do you see the EU Textile Strategy affecting other countries? Surely companies manufacturing in SE Asia or Africa will have to keep a lot of things in mind, especially what with the campaign against fast fashion now taking an official form, they will now have to produce less. Plus, with the extended producer responsibility (EPR) angle, do you think brands/retailers of EU will try to clean up also in countries where they manufacture? Please elaborate.

As the global policy convenors for the industry, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) has been strongly advocating for that global approach to be included and concretely addressed in the Strategy over the past years. During CFS+ last year (the digital edition of Global Fashion Summit, formerly Copenhagen Fashion Summit) we hosted for instance a policy roundtable entitled ‘The EU Textiles Strategy in the Global Context: Opportunities and Challenges’ which provided a platform of exchange between policymakers and industry representatives from all four corners of the globe for the latter to provide the former with recommendations to take into consideration when building an EU Textiles Strategy for a truly global value chain.

As such we are pleased to see that both the ‘EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles’ and the 'European Commission Communication on Making Sustainable Products the Norm' presented on 30 March include a strong focus on the global level.

We welcome in particular the EU’s intention to pursue global progress towards more sustainable and circular textiles in international fora such as G7/G20 as well as in the UN Environmental Assembly. EU action will indeed not be enough for this truly global value chain, and we hope that the EU’s track record of advocating for sustainability worldwide as done for other sectors such as plastics (with the creation of the Global Plastics Agreement) will permeate to textiles.

At GFA, we look forward to continuing to pursue this effort to convene actors around this topic—be it at global, regional or bilateral levels. This will be achieved through different formats, including forthcoming policy roundtables during our next Global Fashion Summit (7–8 June, Royal Opera House, Copenhagen, Denmark) or through our involvement in the global Sustainable Consumption and Production Forum [1]. Because, to your point: the EU Textiles Strategy will affect other regions and it is of upmost importance to increase the dialogue with them to raise awareness and anticipate the concrete implications.

It is also worth mentioning that the Commission’s proposal on corporate sustainability due diligence[2] should have a particularly strong impact on other countries as it aims to “[promote] greener and fairer value chains across borders and continents”[3] and “should contribute to driving sustainable business models at global level”.[4] Even if this piece of legislation is not part of the Strategy as such, as it was published a few weeks ahead (see next question, it is included in the overall framework that the Strategy represents. The enforcement of the directive in the textiles sector is listed in the Textile Strategy’s Annex as of 2023.

In the current context following the pandemic, which magnified the various system flaws in the industry, legislation was the missing piece and we are pleased to see that the EU is taking into account the global dimension. The rest of the world now needs to follow suit.

Waste and EPR have also been topics on which GFA has been actively mobilised together with our fellow Policy Hub[5] partnering organisations since 2020. This has been done through the organisation of several roundtables and the publication of position papers.[6] And we fully agree with what you mention in your question: when it comes to tackling them, we need to keep the global angle in mind. Realising a circular system of both high quality and safe secondary raw textile materials will be of more benefit if addressed from a Europeanand ideally globallevel. The Policy Hub - Circularity for Apparel and Footwear recognises that the EU should not export its waste problem abroad[7] and we hope for operators outside of the EU to have the obligation to meet requirements equivalent to those of the EU.

The EU Textiles Strategy will affect other regions and it is of upmost importance to increase the dialogue with them to raise awareness and anticipate the concrete implications.
Need for Dialogue The EU Textiles Strategy will affect other regions and it is of upmost importance to increase the dialogue with them to raise awareness and anticipate the concrete implications. Global Fashion Agenda

Another thing that GFA has been working on is due diligence in supply chains. But supply chain issues do not figure much in the EU Strategy. How do you react to this? Please elaborate.

The European Commission adopted its due diligence standalone proposal ahead of the Textiles Strategy, on 23 February 2022:[8] both were announced as separate since the start and the first was initially announced for October 2021 but was then delayed. It introduces, namely, a horizontal due diligence obligation for big companies to identify, prevent, mitigate, bring to end and account for actual and potential adverse impacts on human rights across their global value chains. Even if these norms are not sector-specific, textiles are mentioned several times in both documents of the package (see footnote 8) as one of the sectors that will be most impacted by the new provisions. In particular, the manufacture of textiles, leather and related products (including footwear), and the wholesale trade of textiles, clothing and footwear. We look forward to hearing more about the European Commission’s plans on enforcing the directive in the textiles sector (as of 2023 according to the Strategy’s annex).

Regarding our policy work on this, GFA contributed to the European Commission’s open consultation on due diligence ahead of the publication of the February proposals. We are currently in the process of analysing them in detail with our Policy Hub colleagues following which we will decide on advocacy actions moving forward.

Worth mentioning as well that the publication of both the Strategy and the due diligence proposals from the European Commission is just the first step in the EU decisionmaking process. The co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) now need to endorse and adopt them before they are implemented so the collaboration between the industry and policymakers will continue in the upcoming months/year(s) to make sure we end up with comprehensive final legislation.

María Luisa Martínez Díez
María Luisa Martínez Díez
Public Affairs Director
Global Fashion Agenda

Realising a circular system of both high quality and safe secondary raw textile materials will be of more benefit if addressed from a European—and ideally global—level.

REFERENCES

 

 

  1. Introduced by the 'Communication on making sustainable products the norm'
  2. Just and Sustainable Economy Package (incl. The Sustainable Corporate Due Diligence Directive and a communication on 'decent work worldwide)
  3. EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles
  4. European Commission Communication on making sustainable products the norm
  5. Launched in 2019, the Policy Hub has five partner organisations: Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), Textiles Exchange (TE), and the ZDHC Foundation. In total, these organisations represent more than 700 apparel & footwear stakeholders including brands, retailers, manufacturers, and NGOs.
  6. See Policy Hub’s website
  7. Cf. Policy Hub’s position paper on 'Textile Waste as a Resource: Infrastructures, Waste Shipment, and Secondary Raw Materials Markets'
  8. Just and Sustainable Economy Package (incl. The Sustainable Corporate Due Diligence Directive & a communication on 'decent work worldwide)

 
 
  • Dated posted April 6, 2022
  • Last modified April 6, 2022