A Primark spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have published information about the factories which manufacture products for Primark on our website.
“For a number of years, we’ve been working closely with industry partners sharing information about where Primark products are made. This has included for example, details of our suppliers, their factories, as well as our supply chain practices. Partners have extended from bodies such as the Ethical Trading Initiative, to organisations monitoring industry standards, notably the International Labour Organisation’s Better Work programme.
“Information about suppliers’ factories in the 31 countries from which Primark sources product is now available on our website. Details include factory names, addresses, number of workers and gender split of the workforce.
“A factory is detailed on the map only after it has produced products for Primark for a year and has become an established supplier. During the first year, a factory has to demonstrate that it can consistently work to Primark’s ethical standards, as well as meet our commercial requirements in areas such as quality and timely delivery. Factories featured on the map produce over 95% of Primark’s products for sale in our stores.
“Primark has not published details of its suppliers’ factories up to now, as we regarded this information as giving us commercial advantage. However, with 98% of the factories making products for Primark also manufacturing for other brands, and with a number of those retailers now publishing details of their sourcing, we have taken the decision to share our information.
“Primark does not own any factories and requires all its suppliers’ factories to meet its Code of Conduct, which is based on the standards of the International Labour Organisation, a United Nations body. Primark’s Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team, which consists of over 100 people based in key sourcing countries, is responsible for monitoring compliance with its Code. This team will also be responsible for providing updates to the Primark Global Sourcing Map on a twice-yearly basis.”
Published on Primark on February 7, 2018
Jewelry is meant to be a symbol of beauty, love, and commitment. Every year, consumers purchase nearly US$300 billion of jewelry for themselves or for loved ones. But increasingly, promoting the story of beauty, love, and commitment is not enough – customers want to be sure that the precious minerals and gems in their jewelry have been sourced responsibly.
The conditions under which gold and diamonds are mined can be brutal. Miners – including children – are injured and killed in unsafe gold or diamond mining pits. Indigenous peoples and other local residents living near large-scale mines are forcibly displaced. In conflict zones, civilians suffer enormously as abusive armed groups and criminal networks enrich themselves by exploiting gold and diamonds. Mines are polluting waterways and soil with toxic chemicals, harming the health and livelihoods of whole communities.
Jewelry companies are not doing enough to ensure they are sourcing responsibly, and many fail to publicly and transparently report on the due diligence efforts they say they undertake. Companies often rely on the Responsible Jewellery Council, which brings together over 1,000 companies in the jewelry supply chain. But the Responsible Jewellery Council promotes standards that allow companies to be certified even when they fail to support basic human rights. The Kimberley Process, another scheme often used by companies, is focused too narrowly on diamonds linked to rebel forces, applies only to rough diamonds, and places no responsibility on companies. Governments rarely require industry actors to undertake robust human rights due diligence. The United States and the European Union have adopted laws on the responsible sourcing of gold (as well as tin, tungsten, and tantalum), but more countries need to follow their lead, and laws should apply to a wider range of minerals.
Jewelry companies can meet the demand for ethically sourced jewelry by putting responsibility and transparency at the heart of their business – and a few have already begun to do so. Under existing voluntary standards, established by the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, companies are expected to put in place a “due diligence” process to identify human rights risks, address these risks, and account for their efforts to the public and to independent auditors.
We, the undersigned NGOs and trade unions, are calling upon the jewelry industry to turn its commitment to responsible sourcing into effective action.
Jewelry Companies Should:
Published on HRW on February 8, 2018
Eleven years after 540,000 litres of toxic waste were dumped in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan, victims are still in the dark about the potential long-term impacts on their health, Amnesty International said today, following the publication of a long-awaited report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
More than 100,000 people sought medical assistance, after a local company hired by the commodities giant Trafigura dumped toxic waste at various sites around Abidjan in August 2006. Reported symptoms included breathing difficulties and burning skin, and to this day people complain of serious health issues they believe are related to the incident, including skin and eye problems.
Despite this, the Côte d’Ivoire government has never monitored the victims to check for long-term health effects. UNEP’s report, which was commissioned by the government and follows an environmental audit of 17 sites affected by the dumping, has strongly recommended that the Côte d’Ivoire government carry out a representative health study of affected individuals, and consider the need for long-term health monitoring.
“The victims of this disaster have been abandoned to live under a cloud of fear and uncertainty for more than a decade. It’s absolutely unacceptable that, so many years on, they remain in the dark about the potential long-term health impacts,” said Lucy Graham, Researcher on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.
“UNEP’s call for a health assessment vindicates long-standing appeals by local communities for government action. The Côte d’Ivoire government took a key step forward by commissioning UNEP’s report, but it now needs to follow through on the report’s recommendations. The people of Abidjan have waited in fear for long enough.”
At the Côte d’Ivoire government’s request, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) will organize a meeting of public health experts in March to analyse the health impacts of the dumping and consider the need for long-term health monitoring for the victims.
Amnesty International has called for health monitoring for a number of years and has compiled a list of recommendations on health studies and monitoring for the meeting of public health experts.
The organization is calling on the Côte d’Ivoire government to establish a medical study to assess any long-term impacts of the dumping on health, and to implement a plan for long-term health monitoring of affected individuals.
Amnesty International is also calling on the Dutch government to provide funding for this work because, six weeks before the waste was dumped in Abidjan, Dutch authorities allowed Trafigura to export the waste from Amsterdam despite knowing it was hazardous and required specialist treatment.
Clean-up and treatment work continued at some of the sites affected by the dumping until as late as 2015 and 2016. UNEP’s report, which is the first independent assessment of the success of these operations, found that pollution levels did not exceed national or international standards requiring further clean-up. However, UNEP notes that this does not preclude the possibility that the community is still affected by health impacts from exposure to the toxic waste in 2006.
“While these findings will be a relief to those living or working near the dumpsites, they are just the tip of the iceberg. People in Abidjan have waited for ten years to know if these areas are safe – and there is still so much that they do not know,” said Lucy Graham.
“We welcome the answers provided by UNEP’s report, but many questions remain. What exactly was in the toxic waste dumped in Abidjan? What are the health implications of the dumping and lengthy clean-up operations? Only when affected communities have the full picture will they truly be able to move on with their lives.”
For a summary of the disaster, its health and environmental impacts and a full list of Amnesty International’s recommendations on health studies and monitoring, please see the new briefing A Toxic Legacy.
Published on AI on January 31, 2018
By Yolanda Redrup
The World Wildlife Fund in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have joined forces to stamp out illegal fishing and slave labour in the tuna fishing industry using blockchain technology.
In partnership with US-based software company ConsenSys and information and communications technology implementer TraSeable, WWF has been able to help tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji to track using blockchain the journey of the tuna from when it is caught, through processing and to the distributor.
WWF is now in discussions with tuna retailers to complete the "bait-to-plate" cycle with the hopes of creating a QR code for consumers on tuna tins that would tell them if the tuna had been sourced sustainably and ethically.
WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman said the technology would likely be ready for commercial use in the tuna industry by the end of the year.
"The next phase is to work with the retail sector. We've worked on the front end and now we need to look at the rest of the supply chain, right up to the plate," he said.
"There's a number of technical and logistical challenges ... but we're in discussions with a few retailers ... and through the course of this year I think we'll get from bait to plate and be able to address the sustainability and human rights issues."
According to WWF, commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world with a high rate of injury and sometimes death due to unsafe working conditions.
A report from January 2014 found members of a South Korean fishing vessel called Oyang 70 were often beaten or punished for little or no reason and would be made to stand on deck during extreme weather conditions with no food or water. Crew members also reported incidents of sexual harassment and rape. These allegations came to light when the ship sank, killing six men.
In the past six years many other incidents of workplace deaths have also been revealed in the fishing sector, including the discovery of the body of a Chinese crewman on a Taiwanese fishing boat that had been stabbed in the neck and kept in a freezer.
Sea Quest volunteered to trial the technology as the Fijian fishery has made a name for itself in the market based on its commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. It exports predominantly to the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
"From the moment the fish comes aboard the vessel the blockchain technology captures their journey in a digital manner and allows every person through the supply chain to see the story of that fish," Sea Quest chief executive Brett "Blu" Haywood said.
Mr O'Gorman said consumers wanted to shop ethically and the development of the blockchain technology would enable them to do so in the near future.
"We see blockchain technology as being able to step up the transparency in the supply chain, which previously was difficult or quite expensive to do," he said.
"It's a very exciting revolution that's about to transform the industry and will deliver multiple sustainable development goals."
WWF is also investigating the use of blockchain for other seafood industries and for fundraising initiatives. It also held two hackathons in 2017 to develop solutions to environmental sustainability issues using new technologies.
Mr O'Gorman said it was supporting a start-up that had emerged from its second hackathon to develop a blockchain for charities to show consumers how their donations were being spent.
Published on The Financial Review on January 7, 2018
By CHRISTOPHER PATZ
A fire in a textile factory in Pakistan killed over 260 workers on 11 September 2012. The workers were producing directly for the German clothes retailer KiK! (“Kunde ist König!” or Consumer is King!) in a building without fire alarms, emergency exits, or fire extinguishers. Of the roughly four hundred relatives and injured survivors, only four were able to afford to bring claims for compensation against the clothes brand in Germany, financed by German NGOs. These four separate claims all argue the same thing: the brand broke its duty to ensure the factory had fire safety measures in place. In August 2016, German judgesaccepted jurisdiction over the cases and granted the four individuals legal aid.
Now, at the end of 2017, the roughly 400 remaining survivors and relatives are time-barred from bringing more cases, as they were unable to raise the necessary funds in time.
Collective redress (also known as “class action”) is a procedure allowing many individuals to bring their judicial claims together in a single proceeding against a common defendant. It economises the proceedings for claimants by enabling them to run the one same case for many, at roughly the same financial cost and risk. It economises the functioning of the judiciary, as numerous identical claims are dealt with together, thereby saving the courts time and resources.
Had collective redress been available in Germany, all fire survivors and relatives of the deceased workers could have brought one combined claim against Consumer is King!. However it isn’t, and its availability across EU Member States is a disharmonised patchwork. The Consumer is King! case is just one current example from an EU Member State where the lack of collective address has resulted in the denial of access to justice for hundreds of people having suffered grievous harm.
In October 2017 the European Commission announced plans for EU-wide legislation for collective redress. But unlike previous, non-binding efforts from the Commission that applied to all victims of corporate harm, the current binding proposal is only for consumers. So if people who bought jeans from Consumer is King! somehow suffered harm as a result (say, the jeans didn’t perform the way they were advertised), they could join together and claim their rights against the company as the consumers of its products. But those who made the jeans, or any others suffering harm as a result of the company’s malpractice (hypothetically say, a factory waste spill, or discriminatory hiring practices), are not afforded the right.
Whilst it is very clear the Commission’s proposal comes in response to the VW Dieselgate scandal (where consumers in the US were able to obtain billions in compensation, whilst those in the EU struggle to obtain anything), it is far from clear why others harmed by gross business misconduct are excluded from the proposal.
One study has found that over half of the companies listed on the UK FTSE 100, France’s CAC 40 and the German DAX 30 have been identified in allegations or concerns regarding adverse human rights impacts. Without question, not all these allegations or concerns would meet the requisite standard of proof required by a court in order to order compensation. Nonetheless the numbers are alarming, and testify to the reality that whilst globalisation has granted corporations much freedom of operation, rules for their accountability and the protection of the people they harm lag behind.
Harm caused by large corporate entities seriously affects all manner of people. When a mine barrage breaks and 100,000 square meters of cyanide laced water spills into the Danube river system, huge numbers of people suffer as a result. In 2000, collective redress was not available for the Romanian and Hungarian victims of the worst environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl. It isn’t today, and indeed it still wouldn’t be under the Commission’s current proposed legislation.
Similar situations persist in cases of discrimination, labour abuse, violations of anti-trust law as well as data protection. The disharmonised patchwork of collective redress across the EU also has a negative impact on fair competition, as varied corporate exposure to deterrent (injunctive) and corrective (compensatory) action across Member States means some companies are more easily subjected to class-action litigation than others, depending on where they operate within the single market. This is creating an unfair playing field for companies.
Compared to consumer cases, the barriers to justice in corporate environmental harm and human rights cases are typically even more extreme. To begin with, such cases require masses of expert evidence, testimony, and studies in order to prove causation of harm; they involve prolonged legal fees, not to mention the intimidating prospect of financial ruin in the event of loss (the loser-pays principle standard to EU legal systems means a claimant must pay the defendant’s legal costs if the claimant loses). For a corporate defendant on the other hand, the decision to litigate is often hardly even a matter for consideration. 69 of the world’s 100 largest economies are corporations, not nation-states. Such a disempowering set of circumstances often leaves individuals with claims against large corporate entities with a convenient and oft-proclaimed right to access justice and remedy on paper, but not in practice.
The worldwide deficit concerning access to remedy in cases of harm occasioned by corporations is real and significant. It has been acknowledged by the international community and is the subject of one of the tree pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs), a breakthrough, yet non-binding international instrument agreed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and endorsed by all major European countries as well as the EU itself. The UNGPs confirm that States have a duty to ensure the effective functioning of their judicial systems for victims of business harm. This means addressing the clear and blatant power imbalances between individual claimants and large, well-resourced corporations.
Allowing individual claimants the right to bring their cases together is a concrete and effective way to fulfil this state duty, and gives tangible practical effect to the right to effective remedy for victims. Indeed, it is a plea being made by international and European human rights bodies and public agencies including the Council of Europe, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Economic and Social Committee as well as a diverse cross-section of civil society and various MEPs.
By crowning the consumer king, the EU commission ignores the legitimate right to remedy for all other people suffering serious harm occasioned by irresponsible corporate conduct. Europe can still seize the opportunity to make equal the right to effective remedy for all those harmed by business malpractice.
Published on Open Democracy on December 20, 2017
By Ben Knight
The German government approved nearly €450 million ($526 million) worth of weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the third quarter of 2017, more than five times the €86 million it sold in the same quarter of last year.
The German Economy Ministry disclosed the numbers after a member of parliament from the opposition Left party, Stefan Liebich, requested the information.
Egypt alone bought nearly €300 million worth of weapons, making it the number one export destination for German arms, while Saudi Arabia handed over nearly €150 million. By comparison, the two countries imported €45 million and €41 million respectively in the third quarter of 2016.
The ministry's disclosure did not give details on the types of weapons exported, but a large proportion of the sales to Saudi Arabia likely consists of four patrol boats and 110 military trucks. These sales were disclosed by the government in July, though neither the total value of the sales nor the individual value of each item were revealed at the time. It also remains unclear what Egypt bought, and Liebich has already filed a follow-up information request with the government.
Jürgen Grässlin, spokesman for the anti-arms trade campaign "Aktion Aufschrei -- Stoppt den Waffenhandel!" ("outcry action — stop the arms trade!"), said the government does not like to disclose the value of individual deals but guessed that the huge sums were likely to be for armed boats. "And they always come with weapons and with ammunition, depending on how it's calculated," he said.
Feeding the war in Yemen
Liebich criticized the government's exports to both countries as "particularly reprehensible."
Saudi Arabia and Egypt have "to answer for the thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen," he said, referring to the ongoing civil war between Houthi rebels and Yemen's government.
The Saudi-led coalition military intervention in Yemen has led to the death of nearly 10,000 people and created the world's biggest humanitarian crisis in one of the Arab world's poorest state. Human rights organizations have said the Saudi-led coalition may have commmitted war crimes, and the UN has warned some 7 million people face possible famine.
As Liebich pointed out, Germany's policies used to be more restrictive. "There were times when it was completely ruled out for Germany to deliver weapons to countries that were participating in wars," he said. "That only changed in the last two governments. It started with Turkey, which was sold weapons despite its war with the Kurds — that was a controversial discussion at the time."
Liebich warned the four parties negotiating a new coalition government — the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister-party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens — to chart a new course in Germany's arms export policy. Otherwise, he said, the new government would make itself complicit.
"I know that the Greens have a different position on this, and they worked with us in the opposition," said Liebich. "I hope and expect that they assert themselves in the coalition negotiations and don't deliver into war zones anymore."
Grässlin was fairly skeptical that the Greens would be able to force a new policy on the government. "The Greens have very clear policies that you shouldn't send weapons to countries that violate human rights — that would definitely exclude Saudi Arabia and Egypt," he said. "The problem is the CSU has an interest in protecting the arms industry in Bavaria."
A new policy
In its answer to the Left party request, the Economy Ministry cautioned that the "sum of the approval values in a reporting period alone are no adequate measure for a specific arms export policy. What needs to be taken into account much more are the kinds of goods and their respective purpose."
"The government pursues a restrictive and responsible arms export policy," the ministry added. "The government decides on issuing approvals for arms exports on a case-by-case basis and in light of the situation after carefully assessing or drawing on foreign and security policy considerations."
Grässlin considered the ministry's response to be insubstantial. "Every government says that," he said. "The numbers always say something else. It's either barbiturates for the people, or pure hypocrisy, or however you want to describe it. It's an unbelievably unreliable arms export policy that constantly breaches its own guidelines."
Successive economy ministers — the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel and now Brigitte Zypries — have blamed large arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships on previous admnistrations, arguing that large contracts can't easily be canceled.
"My counterargument is that if there are new approvals, there is still always the opportunity to say no," said Liebich. "That can mean you have to pay fees for breaking contracts — but then that's the way it is. I think it's more important that you don't sell weapons to a country that is taking part in a war which, according to the UN, is causing millions of people to starve."
Published on DW on November 14, 2017
By Stephanie Nebehay, Eric Knecht
The International Organization for Labour (ILO) on Wednesday dropped a case against Qatar over its treatment of foreign workers that had overshadowed the wealthy Gulf state’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.
The move by the United Nations agency came after Qatar committed to far-reaching reforms, including allowing workers freedom to leave the country and change jobs without their employer’s permission and establishing a minimum wage without discrimination and a fund to guarantee late wages.
Human rights groups, long critical of Qatar’s treatment of its mostly Asian foreign workers, welcomed the agreement but said Doha must now follow up its pledges with firm action.
“Around 2 million workers in all kinds of sectors will now enjoy better protection, including a dispute settlement system, also accessible for the extremely vulnerable domestic workers,” Luc Cortebeeck, chair of the ILO governing body, told reporters.
The ILO decision spares Qatar a commission of inquiry that would have badly tarnished the image of the gas-rich kingdom, which hopes to use the tournament to showcase its progress and development.
Qatar is also seeking to counter criticism from its Arab rivals, who have branded it a global financier of militant groups, a charge Doha denies.
“GUARANTEEING ALL RIGHTS”
Qatar’s labour minister Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi told the ILO forum on Wednesday the government was working to achieve decent work conditions for domestic and migrant workers and had established committees on labour disputes.
“Qatar will remain mindful (about) guaranteeing all rights of workers,” he said, adding Doha was committed to a three-year programme of technical cooperation with the ILO.
The ILO said in a statement the technical cooperation would “support the implementation of numerous measures adopted by the Government of Qatar... to address passport confiscation, contract substitution, as well as restrictions on the ability of migrant workers to change employers and exit the country”.
The complaint against Qatar “originated out of a deep concern about exploitation exposing almost 2 million workers to forced labour,” Catelene Passchier, spokeswoman for the workers’ group at the ILO governing board, said.
“While we welcome and support this agreement between the ILO and Qatar, we emphasise that nice words and good intentions are not sufficient. Implementation of these intentions in law and practise is critical,” she told the talks.
Amnesty International echoed the call for swift action.
“If Qatar wants to show it is serious about its promises of reform, it should urgently confirm the unambiguous cancellation of the exit permit so that all migrant workers will be able to return home without needing their employers’ permission,” said Fabien Goa, Gulf Migrants Specialist at Amnesty International.
But Qatar also drew praise for its reform plans.
“Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf States (that) must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and once one of the country’s sharpest critics.
Published on Reuters on November 8, 2017
By Art Prapha
Giving workers the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining can help companies detect and solve problems before they turned into costly crises.
Oftentimes, businesses are reluctant to create avenues for worker voice in their operations. In my work with the seafood industry, I have definitely found this to be true. Worker voice can be broadly defined as approaches that amplify the concerns, perspectives, and agency of workers regarding the businesses they’re a part of. These approaches range from internal grievance mechanisms to worker-led groups and collective bargaining organizations like trade unions and civil society advocacy organizations. The lack of such avenues in many companies raises a worthy question: Is there a business case for strengthening worker voice and representation in value chains like seafood?
How worker voice is good for business
Problems tend to become crises when they fail to reach the right decision-makers in a timely way. The present crisis of forced labor and human-trafficking allegations in the Thai seafood sector is a good example. By strengthening the voice and representation of workers, companies are effectively embedding crisis prevention mechanisms in their operations and supply chains. Problems can be detected, reported, consulted, and resolved before they become a complicated, and often costly, crises.
At the conceptual level, companies understand this well, but implementation remains a challenge. What’s needed is more than setting up a grievance mechanism that looks good on paper. It requires a shift in the business paradigm toward valuing workers as assets, rather than liabilities to be controlled. It means being willing to address the power imbalances within business operations – where workers are deprived of their ability to associate freely, be fairly represented, and collectively speak up. It also means companies must open up wider dialogue with relevant and perhaps disagreeable stakeholders who will help executives to make more inclusive and well-judged decisions.
For example, in the Thai seafood sector, global retailers and Thai suppliers came together to address forced labor allegations under the Seafood Task Force. The platform was initially dominated by international business interests with minimal participation from civil society organizations and trade unions. However, as members progressed through their various initiatives – it became clear that they could not solve problems faced by workers, without the representation from the workers themselves. NGOs, especially those who are operating nationally, have direct access to workers and communities and can provide effective and independent feedback on whether the reforms actually addressed the most pressing problems.
By strengthening worker voice and representation, management is essentially investing in staff retention, boosting workplace morale, and improving productivity while preventing crises that could harm their company’s reputation and earnings. Additionally, worker voice and feedback systems enable companies going through corporate sustainability transitions to understand what works and what needs further investment. Dialogue with workers and national NGOs – along with investment in data collection and management systems – give companies more balanced and independent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. This is particularly essential in a national or sector context where the independence of audit and inspection processes cannot be guaranteed.
How can companies improve worker voice and representation?
Published on OXFAM Blog on November 6, 2017.
By Eva IZQUIERDO
Cheap prices are no longer the only driver for consumers. A growing number of Europeans are demanding information about the origin of the products they consume.
Today a petition was delivered to the European Commission calling on the EU to support a UN treaty which will bring greater fairness to international trade.
The European Environmental Bureau’s (EEB) ‘Justice for My Cookies’ campaign highlighted the use of palm oil in foods and the negative impact it has on people and the environment.
The EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe with around 140 members in more than 30 countries.
Over 7,500 signatures were collected as part of the campaign which saw many Europeans take a stance against the environmental damage and human rights abuses within product supply chains.
Eva Izquierdo, Global Policies Project Officer at the European Environmental Bureau said: "Citizens, business and policy makers get lost in a myriad of agreements and voluntary measures that regulate each commodity. We propose simplicity. One single alternative to regulate abuses in global supply chains: the UN treaty.”
This week the first draft of the UN Treaty will be discussed in Geneva by the Intergovernmental working group of business and human rights of the United Nations. Contrary to other UN treaties, this one will be mandatory for the signing parts. The UN Treaty will mean that the operations of any corporation around the world will be regulated and that corporate abuses in all supply chains will be punished. It is an ambitious project that once becomes a reality will bring solutions to numerous global problems, particularly the ones that indigenous peoples are suffering because their traditional land rights are being ignored and they are being displaced by corporations from their homelands.
This petition is part of an joint effort from the SUPPLY CHA!NGE project whose aim is to improve the labour conditions in the Global South and at the same time reduce environmental damage all along the food supply chains.
All the petitions of this project focused on products coming from the Global South such as orange, cocoa or palm oil that we consume daily in Europe. These petitions were backed by independent scientific reports conducted in the countries of production that gathered evidences of human rights abuses such as child labour, slave labour, low wages, health and safety problem for workers. Besides, environmental issues like biodiversity loss, pesticides and water and land pollution were common to all the reports.
Published on EEB on October 23, 2017.
During the annual Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference, 23 of the world’s most renowned clothing and textile companies, including Burberry, Adidas, Timberland, ASOS and Levi’s pledged to use 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025.
The pledge is called Sustainable Cotton Communiqué and was reported by CSR Wire.
The announcement demonstrated that there is an increasing demand for more sustainable cotton, and it is envisaged to spark the deployment of sustainable practices across the whole textile sector.
“The industry is awakening to the necessity of sustainably grown cotton. It is great to see additional brands joining this initiative to accelerate the momentum of cotton production in a way that will positively impact smallholder farmers, water quality, and soil health”, La Rhea Pepper, Managing Director of Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organisation working across sustainable textile supply chains, said.
The brands that have committed to the 100 percent by 2025 pledge are: ASOS, EILEEN FISHER, Greenfibres, H&M, IKEA, Kering, Levi's, Lindex, M&S, Nike, Sainsbury's, F&F at Tesco, Woolworths, Adidas, A-Z, BikBOk, Burberry, Burton Snowboards, Carlings, Coyuchi, Cubus, Days like This, Dressmann, Hanky Panky, House of Fraser, Indigenous Designs, KappAhl, Kathmandu, Mantis World, MetaWear, Otto Group, prAna, SkunkFunk, Timberland, Urban, Volt and Wow.
Some of the environmental and social costs that are often associated with cotton production are the over-use of pesticides and the depletion of local water sources.
It accounts for approximately 6 percent of global pesticide use, and conventional cotton is highly dependent on water, - around 2,720 liters of water are needed just to make one t-shirt.
The over-use of pesticides and petroleum-based fertilisers has negative impacts on farmers’ health, also provoking rising costs of production.
According to CSR Wire, cotton is the most abundantly produced natural fiber, and more than 350 million people are involved in its supply chain.
During the past years, sustainable cotton production has gained significant attention, with over 3 million tonnes produced in 2016 alone.
However, in order for sustainable cotton to become a standard business practice, the sustainable cotton production and uptake must scale-up significantly.
The pledge from 36 major brands that have entered the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué in total is sending the market signal that is needed making clear that real demand for sustainable cotton is growing.
Maria Hollins, Executive Director of Buying and Design, House of Fraser said: “House of Fraser supports the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué as part of our shift to sourcing sustainable cotton in our house branded fashion and homeware products”.
Zachary Angelini, Environmental Stewardship Manager of Timberland said: “Studies have shown the positive social benefits to farming communities as well as the potential for these practices to sequester carbon in the soil.”
“This is exciting work as we move beyond just minimising environmental impacts to strategically creating real environmental and social benefits within the supply chain.”
Published on Climate Action on October 12, 2017.