30 x 30: What Does it Mean for the Apparel Industry?

  • Science-Based Targets
nature-based solutions, 30x30
Black and white headshot of Amina Razvi
Amina Razvi
May 16, 2023

So many of us appreciate how much the natural world means to our mental and physical health. But as nature nears a tipping point, there’s now so much more at stake.

Nature loss now threatens people and the planet. To put this in perspective, our world’s wildlife populations plummeted by 69% between 1970 and 2022 due to our unsustainable use of our planet’s resources.

That’s not just a tragedy for all the incredible life-forms that run, fly, swim, grow and inhabit the world alongside us, enriching us in countless ways. It’s an alarming sign of how quickly we’re moving towards the collapse of complex, interwoven ecosystems on which all of life on earth depends – including us.

We need fertile soils, thriving oceans, plentiful forests, balanced and diverse species and clean water systems to survive. Scientists and experts warn that we need every one of these aspects of nature to help us reduce the intensity and frequency of climate-related risks.

 

30 x 30 is a wake-up call to use the tools and knowledge we have and unleash the creativity and innovation needed to restore nature before it’s too late. 

The 30 x 30 goal is to put aside 30% of the world for nature by 2030. It was agreed at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and is an ambitious but vital target.

30 x 30 gives us aligned goals that we collectively need to hold ourselves accountable to, and to achieve, in order to bring nature back from the brink.

 

So what does that mean for our industry? 

The textile and apparel industry has huge impacts on nature, due to our use of water and chemicals, and our greenhouse gas emissions. These are all key drivers of biodiversity loss.

But the way I see it, this heavy impact also offers us great opportunities in terms of reversing the trend, co-creating solutions together and positively contributing to the global communities in which we operate.

 

Here’s one example that proves we not only urgently need to do this, but that we absolutely can.

At the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), we continue to see companies putting competition aside to collaborate to achieve a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Our Decarbonization Program is the result of work we are doing with our members and industry partners, as are many other industries, to ensure meaningful action and impact. It will take nothing less than working hand in hand across the value chain to increase education, sharing of best practices and ensuring real progress towards shared goals. While there is more to do, we’ve learned a lot from it. So let’s build on these learnings to advance progress more rapidly when it comes to nature restoration.

 

What’s the first thing we know we need to do? Get our framework right. 

We need to use science-based targets for nature to form action plans that everyone in our sector is working towards. By aligning on achieving science-based, measurable targets and benchmarks, SAC members can make real and vital progress.

Our industry has an ability to bring people and knowledge together to collaborate and co-create solutions; catalyzing collective action to protect people and planet. 

The era of working in silos is over. The future lies in harnessing the textile and apparel industry’s vast amount of talent, creativity, innovation and ingenuity, and collaborating to protect nature.

 

Let’s also make the most of the tools and systems we’ve created to take action against reversing biodiversity loss.

At SAC we’re already incorporating biodiversity within our Higg Index suite of tools that allow brands and retailers to assess their impacts.

For example, we recently made biodiversity a category in a major update to our Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM), one of the five assessment tools within the Higg Index, allowing brands and retailers to assess their impacts when it comes to land use and habitat protection, including more in-depth questions on water and circularity as key levers of change.

We developed the update in collaboration with members and key partner organizations to ensure close alignment with standard assessment protocols.

We’re also exploring opportunities to utilize our Higg Facility Environmental Model (FEM) to help achieve nature-based targets – including using the vast amount of data we have gathered on chemical usage, water usage and wastewater, to identify hotspots where businesses can drive collective action for substantial impact.

 

Our data, insights and scale of our membership offer significant opportunities for helping to address fashion’s biodiversity cost.

Reversing the alarming rate of nature loss, and creating a thriving, resilient and just future, requires urgently transforming our systems. Based on more than a decade of collaboration, we know that if you put in place the tools, processes and policies, they do work. There are countless examples of specific actions that can yield outsized positive impacts, but more needs to be done to significantly scale these types of interventions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

From boardrooms and sourcing teams to manufacturing floors and policy makers, now’s the time for radical collaboration to restore nature. Together, we can make the changes needed to bring nature back from the edge.

 

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