§ World Fashion Organization featured in Financial Times about Fashion for Development & Peace
§ WORLD PEACE FESTIVAL BERLIN.
§SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT
The World Fashion Organization (WFO) joins the compromise adopted by the 189 United Nations member states in the Millennium Declaration of 2000.
Our frame of reference is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), where they established a series of goals that address many interrelated aspects to achieve the reduction of poverty and hunger, universal access to education, sexual equality, reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health, a greater respect for the environment and the formation of a international alliance that enhances the achievement of these goals.
As repeatedly stated by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, "Achieving these goals requires the participation of all."
For this reason, the WFO, as well as the different entities that make up our organization, want to be a part of this global effort that will allow us to move towards a more just and equal world for all.
We are aware of the great challenges that we face and the necessity to have interventions in coordination with strategies established by the different international development agencies.
Without forgetting the importance of considering first the importance of the policies designed by local governments, each country should adapt the Millennium Development Goals to their own circumstances and strategies for the fight against poverty.
Our primary working tool will be the Strategic Sectorial Plan of Social and Environmental Impact (SEI) in accordance with the guidelines set out by the main international players in humanitarian development like:
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- United Nations Organization for Education, Culture and Scientific Organization (UNESCO)
- International Labor Organization (ILO)
In addition to the consideration to the Millennium Declaration of 2000, the designing of our strategy has also considered the values and universal rights that have come out of the players mentioned above, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), The Universal Declaration of Children’s Rights (1959), The Declaration and Platform of Action for Women of Beijing (1995), The World Forum on Education of Dakar (2000), and the core ILO conventions.
During the process of designing this Strategic Plan (SEI) , we performed an in-depth analysis of the strengths and contributions that the WFO can make in achieving the MDGs. The WFO provides an extensive network of alliances and agreements with different public and private entities that have the ability to influence and provide a great variety of resources to promote initiatives in international development cooperation.
All of these initial considerations have been the basis to establish priority action lines, which fall into three broad groups:
Social Investment/Social Awareness Advisory
The first, Social Investment, describes the different actions that will allow us to generate real development alternatives for the benefit of the most vulnerable communities.
In this area of work we have considered some key determining factors in the fight against poverty, being aware of the importance of both in achieving the MDGs:
- Gender equality and the empowerment of women
- To boost the education and employment sectors
We suggest different lines of intervention, the most important being the creation of a micro- credit program that will allow people without resources or opportunities to generate their own economic activity in order to break the cycle of poverty. This program is inspired by the philosophy and working for more than 30 years of holder of the Noble Peace Prize, Muhammed Yunnus, founder of the Grameen Bank. In this sense, the WFO maintains a collaboration agreement with the Grameen Foundation, an entity that works in more than 35 countries around the world supporting micro-credit lines to the poorest of the poor, and considering women the highest priority.
In addition to the promotion of micro credit as a fundamental working tool, in the fight against poverty, the WFO aims to develop other actions like supporting educational programs, creating training workshops and promoting social cooperatives.
In terms of awareness, our primary objective will be to highlight the importance of designing Corporative Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and implementing codes of conduct that ensure compliance with social rights, labour and environmental sustainability. Something that is increasingly demanded by stakeholders.
Another objective will be to facilitate the industry players to have a better understanding of the social realities in which the market evolves.
All of this will not be possible without two commitments. One is to be in direct contact with the people. The other is to be constantly updated on policies, initiatives and frameworks related to Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management.
Advisory: In addition to promoting specific actions described in social investment and awareness, the WFO aims to be the industry benchmark to guide companies in the creation or adaptation of their CSR policies to the principles established in the UNGlobal Pact on human rights, labour standards, environment and the fight against corruption.
Our greatest challenge will be to unify the social strategy from this sector to contribute to building a more stable, equitable and inclusive global market.
Today, and for the first time in history, more than half of the world population already lives in cities. In this new world, the cities will write their own codes of conduct, encouraged by the necessity for efficiency, connectivity, security and sustainability.
The organization of cities and the social inclusion within them, are without doubt the great challenge of our time. Considering of special form, the most depressed zones of the cities, according to the latest figures offered by the United Nations, in actuality more than one billion people live crowded in slum villages. It seems then necessary to consider the cities as a priority setting of intervention for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
This consideration leads us to think about the necessity of finding development approaches that are inclusive, equitable and well-conceived from social, economic and environmental standpoints.
There is an essential tool to transfer this new concept of city: trade. It is central to recovery, growth and development, ensuring stable economic progress, creating job positions, raising living standards and reducing poverty. This concept is supported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
In this regard, we want to highlight the importance of promoting an open trade system that is equitable, rule based, predictable and non-discriminatory and effectively integrates developing countries.
In the least developed countries, many of which depend solely on external/ humanitarian assistance, the UN through its agencies develop a transition strategy from a dependency setting to a more economically self sufficient setting. The key is focusing on investments so that the country can develop its own ability to produce and export products, and ultimately enter the global market. In that sense, of course the first industry that usually starts is ours, the textile industry.
It is difficult to estimate the total number of people that work directly or indirectly in this sector. It generates employment from the production of raw material to the retail outlets. But some figures allow us to size its great potential. Worth over US $1trillion worldwide, it contributes to 7% of world exports. The evolution of the textile sector and fashion are dictated by the increasing globalization of business. After overcoming the barriers to trade, this is the first industry that flourishes in emerging economies, as it can be very competitive with low labor costs. The intensive labour that characterizes this sector is in turn very adaptable to the urban environment, the main scene that we face in this century. Finally, the relative ease of the transport of these types of products, make the sector one of the most experienced expansions in a global economy.
While the process of textile production and distribution feeds the labour market growth in many economies, the concept of fashion, in its creative and innovative aspects, act as a great engine for the sector to constantly push the demand for new designs/products.
We cannot forget that the textile sector, like other business sectors must take on big challenges, especially those relating to labour rights, and especially considering women, who make up more than 60% of the workers in the sector. Traditionally, the world labour market has been an entrance point for women without special training. However, this social profile focuses on the stages of product manufacturing, but increasingly, women that have acquired advanced skills occupy jobs in the areas of administration and design/creation.
Textile is a market with true integration potential. Its ability to create sustainable jobs, adds to the proven experience of success of positioning itself amongst the poorest of communities to generate productive activity, and also allowing women to have a role in it.
In urban areas, the protagonist of our era, the sector is projected to be stable and suitable for a lifestyle that requires reconciling work and family life. For all of this however, as we have previously qualified, social and labour rights, as well as sustainable environmental policies, should be consolidated. Because of the increasing importance of the cultural environment and consumer interest about the social repercussions of their actions, it opens a path in the fashion market, a phenomenon that we will name “New Global Fashion Conscience.” This is based on the need to respond to a market that demands a social impact of the products it consumes as well as the quality of them, and explains the importance to the consumers of the products to communicate their personality and integrate their values.
The commitment to build the “eco-equality” is therefore a competitive advantage for companies as they position themselves for a growing number of consumers willing to invest in products that take into account aspects relative to the environment and the inclusion of disadvantaged social sectors. Thus, we see a market trend and a strategic element in marketing products that has a clear positive impact on sustainable development.
On the other hand, there are segments that may represent a niche market for developing countries that do not have the ability to be competitive in the volume of production or in labour costs. The handcrafting of products based on the fashion of “culture and traditions” fits perfectly with the component of the fashion world that values the “exclusive” and the “original.”
We talked about a market for finished products, not only for raw materials, that leads to a clear added value. From the development point of view, the promotion of these small, local industries have much to say about it.
We, emphasize the world’s fashion weeks, the great event that promotes WFO, in which a great multitude of countries will participate and which will be the primary framework for promoting global trade as an engine of development within our sector.
What do these communities fundamentally need to jump on the market bandwagon?
Obviously, many things: investment, training, consultancy… But mostly, for businesses and local designers to develop the full potential of their own brands, they need to become visible. We cannot forget that the new designers are also ambassadors for their countries and their culture.
As a conclusion to the above exposition, it is no wonder that that United Nations, a world like that of fashion and textile production, that seems so far removed from the “blue helmets” and humanitarian aid missions, has however a vital importance to ensure that people have a better and safer life.