Support Sustainable Development Goals

The NYC Fair Trade Coalition is proud to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. Built upon the success of the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), the 17 SDGs offer a blueprint for international and cross-sectoral efforts to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

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17 Goals to Transform Our World

The NYC Fair Trade Coalition has adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guiding framework for our work. The 17 goals are a call for action for civil society, governments, the private sector, and academia to work in conjunction toward eradicating poverty, reducing economic and gender inequality, and improving health, education, and security. Recognizing that improving human welfare must go hand-in-hand with strategies to mitigate climate change and protect our environment, the SDGs also emphasize the sustainable use of our natural resources.

Read on for some examples of how the Coalition’s work on sustainable fashion and fair trade contributes to the SDGs.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

A $2.5 trillion-dollar industry, fashion employs over 75 million people worldwide; 80% of these workers are women. Therefore, an ethical and equitable fashion industry can play a role in promoting economic advancement for women across the world.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

The fashion industry comprises approximately 3% of the global economy. Unfortunately, many employed in this industry are subject to dangerous working conditions, low wages, and, in the most extreme cases, forced labor. Addressing these issues will work toward creating a more inclusive global economy for these workers, most of whom live in developing countries.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Promoting technological innovations in manufacturing can decrease the environmental footprint of the fashion industry. For example, advancements in recycling allow apparel companies to reduce waste and repurpose these textiles and old garments into new items. Similarly, many brands are making adjustments in their production and finishing processes to reduce water usage.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

With the rise of fast fashion in the last few decades, the need to address these waste and production issues is particularly acute. This goal targets fossil fuels, chemical waste, and the integration of environmentally-sound practices into production cycles. While the emphasis is on the responsible use of resources in the production process, the goal also supports the right of consumers to be fully informed about production practices.

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Textile production generates more greenhouse gas emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined. What’s more, synthetic textiles such as polyester and nylon are made from crude oil, with nylon requiring twice as much energy as polyester and four times as much energy as cotton to be produced. Reducing the production of synthetic textiles will dramatically decrease the carbon footprint of the global fashion industry.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Textile mills contribute to one-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution. Once worn by consumers, many of these garments continue to pollute marine ecosystems by shedding microfibers and microplastics during clothes washing. The sustainable fashion movement is promoting textile and laundry innovations, and reduction of chemical use, to reduce the burden of the fashion industry on our water systems.

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Some popular fabrics directly contribute to deforestation and soil degradation. Rayon (or viscose), often used as a silk alternative, is made from wood fibers and causes 120 million trees to be cut each year in old growth and endangered forests. The production of cotton, another popular fiber, contributes to soil degradation worldwide. Adopting sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroforestry, or using alternative fibers, like those made from hemp, can help protect our terrestrial ecosystems.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Achieving SDG goals 1 to 16 will require coordination across many actors. Policymakers, scientists, technologists, designers, fashion companies, and workers unions will need to work in conjunction to reduce exploitation and pollution in fashion supply chains. As a grassroots organization, the NYC Fair Trade Coalition is proud to spearhead these efforts toward promoting the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a more equitable, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable fashion industry.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a global blueprint for dignity, peace, and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future

** Statistics courtesy of the United Nations, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Bank.