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COP26: fashion communication must evolve to meet sector’s sustainability targets

Camilla Rydzek
08 November 2021

A commitment to align consumer and industry communication efforts to a 1.5-degree compatible pathway has been announced today at the COP26 conference.

The commitment is to: “align consumer and industry communication efforts to a 1.5-degree or Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) compatible pathway, as set out by the Paris Agreement Goals, as well as a more just and equitable future.”

It was announced during the “Fashion Industry in the Race to Net Zero” session on 8 November 2021 at the COP26 and will be included in the renewed Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which was convened by UN Climate Change.

The commitment, which is direct towards all those working with consumers including PR and marketing professionals, are based on a fashion communication consultation that was led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with over 160 organisations from across the value chain.

It found that communication change must be a driving force in the fashion sector’s climate response if it is to contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The consultation also recognised, however, that the current system structure remains a challenge as it encourages communications to increase sales.

This is in light of statistics that in its current trajectory, the fashion industry is expected to miss the 2030 emissions reduction targets by 50%, according to the Fashion On Climate report by McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda, published in August 2020.

Draft recommendations include committing to accurate reporting and transparency, focusing on inclusive marketing and storytelling as well as motivating and mobilising the public to advocate for broader change.

Lucy Shea, CEO at Futerra, said: “Fashion is one of the most powerful marketing engines on earth. What brands, designers and media share, influences how individuals appear, feel and act around the world.”

“As communicators from across all aspects of the fashion sector, we must come together and use our powers responsibly to motivate the wide scale shift in attitudes and behaviour change that’s necessary to address today’s code red for humanity.

“This is fashion’s opportunity to be a wider part of the solution; to use its marketing prowess and position as architects of desire to shape new cultural norms and expectations.”

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