The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has announced three new partnerships to promote biodiversity in the fashion industry. By tag-teaming with the Green Fashion Competition in Amsterdam, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Fashioning the Future Awards in London, and CoKnit Connect at the European Institute of Design Madrid, the agency plans to boost the sustainable profile of an enterprise that is anything but.

United Nations, UN


“The fashion industry can play a significant role in conserving biodiversity through innovation and new ideas,” notes a press release. “The industry makes extensive use of raw materials derived from biodiversity, such as natural fabrics and animal skins.” Because textiles and clothing account for almost 7 percent of global trade, the sector has a significant hand to play in educating broader populations of consumers. “Global consumers follow trends set by high-fashion brands,” it adds. “And products and methods that protect biodiversity may lead to their applications in mass-market retailing.”

The fashion industry can play a significant role in conserving biodiversity through innovation and new ideas.

To that end, the UNCTAD is sponsoring a new category in the Fashioning the Future Awards, based at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion of the London College of Fashion, which seeks to encourage final-year fashion students to pursue eco-friendly design. The “Unique Balance” award invites designers to conceptualize fashion that protects biodiversity. In addition to selecting the winning designs, the UNCTAD will also promote the projects as examples of forward-thinking, sustainable design in its BioTrade Initiative.

With Coknit Connect, the UNCTAD will throw its weight behind projects that teach students how to use materials in sustainable ways, including collaborations with fashion labels such as Zara and Mango using recycled or repurposed fabrics. “It is expected that the project will result in the creation of limited series of appealing, trend-conscious fashion products made from recovered and/or recycled clothing and fabrics,” the agency says.  

The UNCTAD ramped up its efforts to promote biodiversity in 2010, after 193 governments signed a landmark agreement at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to “value, conserve, restore, and wisely use, and maintain ecosystem services” and sustain a healthy planet. We can’t wait to see the UNCTAD catalyze a shift in the fashion world.

+ Press Release

+ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development