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Generating Inclusive Growth for Sustainable Fashion

The global reach of the fashion industry provides a huge opportunity to advance the UN Global Goals. Technology can facilitate traceability and transparency in fashion supply chains around the world. This raises consumer awareness and makes it easier for consumers to practice Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 — Responsible Production and Consumption.

Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president of UN Partnerships for SAP and global head of SAP Next-Gen, represented the technology sector in a side event during the UN High Level Political Forum, “Unlocking the Potential of SMEs to Contribute to the SDGs through Fashion.” She spoke alongside Riefqah Jappie, international trade centre representative to the UN, and Belen Páppolla, representative to the UN for Hecho x Nosotros, in a panel conversation moderated by Richa Agarwal, founder of ShopShoku.

The fashion and apparel industry, a $2.5 trillion industry, employs more than 60 million people. With women making up more than 70% of employees in the global value chain, the fashion industry can empower women, SDG 5 — Gender Equality, and lift them out of poverty, SDG 1 — No Poverty, while taking a strong stand in support of SDG 13 — Climate Action.

“Sustainable living should permeate every area of a person’s life, including their clothing purchases. The buying habits of consumers send a message to the fashion industry and can encourage prioritization of inclusive economic development and environmental protection,” said Rosenberg. “Technology can provide a source of accountability and motivate storytelling for clothing articles, brands, and stores that inspire consumers to advocate for sustainability and fair labor practices with every purchase.”

The movement for conscious fashion plays a significant role in the creation of a better, more sustainable future. Buying fewer, higher-quality items as well as second-hand clothing reduces environmental impact where waste caused by non-biodegradable fabrics that can sit in landfills for as long as 200 years and where a cotton shirt takes 2,700 liters of water to produce.

SAP’s strong footprint in the fashion industry and its innovative technology can help make sustainable fashion the new normality. The SAP Next-Gen global “innovation with purpose” network provides a platform for education and advocacy to support a circular economy and sustainable supply chains in the fashion industry, while also providing transparent information to consumers and connecting them to artisans and leading brands alike.

SAP customers produce more than 63 percent of the world’s brand-name janes and 86 percent of the world’s athletic footwear. Public-private partnerships, founded on SAP solutions, can generate inclusive growth in the fashion industry while accelerating solutions to the Global Goals.

Author: Kelly Cannon (SAP Next Generation)

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