As nature is declining at an unprecedented rate, posing a direct threat to all human society and economic activity, business failure to act in the face of this crisis will risk operational longevity, with the fashion, textile and apparel industry particularly vulnerable, according to a document drafted by experts from London-based sustainability consultancy Little Blue Research and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).
In the next ten years, environmental changes will redefine competitive advantages for all businesses, investors and countries, with access to natural resources completely reshaping these advantages, it says.
A complex, multi-trillion-dollar sector, the fashion, textile and apparel industry both contributes to these impacts and is particularly vulnerable to these shifts, with its supply chains and operations highly dependent on nature, it says. This dependency will only increase—the apparel industry generates $1.5 trillion a year in revenue now and is expected to grow towards $2 trillion by 2027, it predicts.
Science-based targets for nature offer businesses a way of taking action to ensure their operational resilience while also addressing the wider issues associated with business impacts on nature.
This primer provides an introduction to the recently-launched science-based targets for nature and their application within the fashion, textile and apparel industry.
The document, titled ‘Raising the ambition for nature: A fashion, textile and apparel sector primer on the first science-based targets for nature’, was prepared with assistance from Science Based Targets Network (SBTN), The Fashion Pact, Conservation International and Textile Exchange. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) offered a grant.
The methods to set science-based targets for nature published by SBTN compliment and build upon science-based targets for climate published by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
By setting both targets at once, businesses can incorporate both into their strategies, drive cost efficiencies and increase innovations that are win–wins for both nature and climate, the document says.
The industry can start to prepare now for the implementation of science-based targets for nature to ensure credible targets and actions to deliver these are in place, it adds.
As a first step, the document suggests several immediate actions that businesses can take to help address nature loss, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.
These include understanding business’ impacts on nature by determining which are most material and where they occur in its operations and across its value chain; understanding the data the business has access to and the gaps; and starting to trace material sourcing back to the regional, farm or site level for one product/unit, initially focusing on the most material impacts.
Businesses may also mobilise change, becoming part of the collaborative actions to address nature loss by joining groups like the Corporate Engagement Programme or Business for Nature, which are putting businesses at the forefront of developments and enabling them to contribute, test, learn and share their experiences with technical experts, the document suggests.