Biodiversity benchmark

Over half of fashion and textile companies recognize biodiversity loss as a priority risk, according to new report by Textile Exchange. Textile Exchange’s inaugural Biodiversity Insights Report compiles data from 157 fashion and textile companies including Hermès, H&M, Kering, Norrøna and Ralph Lauren.

Biodiversity is fast becoming a focus area – 51% of companies recognize it as a priority risk, and 59% have made public commitments to address it

A growing number of companies are starting to take action to mitigate their impact – 80% are increasing their use of certified materials, 15% are mapping sourcing locations to biodiversity value and 8% already have an explicit biodiversity strategy in place

With its Biodiversity Benchmark, Textile Exchange aims to mobilize the industry towards becoming nature positive by 2030 by providing a framework for companies to plan and measure their actions

Lubbock, Texas, Nov 2, 2021 – A new report from global non-profit Textile Exchange has found that 51% of fashion and textile companies recognize biodiversity loss as a priority risk, and 8% already have an explicit biodiversity strategy in place.

As biodiversity fast becomes a focus area for the industry, the newly released Biodiversity Insights Report aims to accelerate action by analyzing data shared by 157 companies including Hermès, H&M, Kering, Norrøna and Ralph Lauren amongst others.

One million of the planet’s eight million species are now threatened with extinction, and earlier this year, a landmark joint report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the integral role of biodiversity in mitigating climate change.

Now, within the context of this year’s COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Textile Exchange is identifying the key areas where fashion and textile companies are making progress to reduce their impacts on biodiversity and outlining opportunities where more work can be done. In turn, the organization aims to mobilize the industry towards becoming nature positive by 2030 in line with its Climate+ goal to be the driving force behind a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by the same year.

The Biodiversity Insights Report uses data submitted through the Textile Exchange Biodiversity Benchmark to provide a baseline that tracks the level of engagement and effort that companies are putting into monitoring and minimizing their impact on the natural world. It aims to help companies of all sizes formulate where they should be heading and to articulate what best practice looks like today.

The report urges brands to build on their existing materials strategies, coupling fiber standards (currently prioritized by 80% of brands) and regenerative, restorative approaches (used by 32%) with initiatives that take their biodiversity benefits beyond sourcing efforts to collaborative landscape-level action.

The Biodiversity Benchmark was developed by Textile Exchange in partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy, Conservation International and a co-led multi-stakeholder advisory group of 60+ organizations, experts, companies, and industry specialists, including the Science Based Targets Network, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and CDP.

Clare Shine, CEO of University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership says: “We must act urgently to reverse the nature-climate crisis by 2030. The global fashion sector is uniquely positioned to lead and inspire collective imagination on how we view and value nature. This transformation must start now and mobilize people and resources along the design, supply and retail chain.”

“I congratulate the Textile Exchange and its partners for the development of the Biodiversity Benchmark,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), “and for the ground-breaking and insightful information contained in the Insight Report, an effort to set SMART targets and monitor progress aligned with the Paris Agreement and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework currently under development and due for adoption next spring at the UN Biodiversity Conference.”

“The role of this report, and the Biodiversity Benchmark itself, is twofold: they help companies make the link between biodiversity and the work that they are already doing with their materials strategies, and they use reporting and disclosure as a mechanism for mobilization and getting concrete biodiversity strategies in place,” said Liesl Truscott, Head of Corporate Benchmarking, Textile Exchange.

Textile Exchange is also collaborating closely with The Fashion Pact, a global CEO-led coalition across the fashion and textile industry (ready-to-wear, sport, lifestyle, and luxury), on the Biodiversity Benchmark. The Fashion Pact leverages the power of the collective in order to drive action, building upon and going beyond existing initiatives in order to accelerate positive impact in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. 

The themes of the Biodiversity Insights Report will be further examined in the upcoming Textile Sustainability Conference 2021, which will be hosted in Dublin, Ireland from November 15-19, 2021.

Key insights from the report

• Biodiversity is fast becoming a focus area for fashion and textile companies. 51% recognize biodiversity risk as a priority and 59% have made public commitments to address it. And while biodiversity has only recently entered the sustainability conversation for fashion and textile companies, 8% already have an explicit biodiversity strategy in place.

• Sustainability standards are the most widely used measure by companies seeking to address their biodiversity impact. An impressive 80% of companies are increasing their uptake of certified materials as a way of managing their impact on biodiversity. Certified organic cotton and other cotton standards are the most popular.

• Over a third of companies are starting to take action to remediate biodiversity loss. Beyond standards, 38% of companies are beginning to implement restorative/regenerative measures in support of biodiversity, opening opportunities for collaboration across the value chain and within broader landscapes. 

• A growing number of companies are investing in biodiversity either financially or in kind. 38% of companies are making some kind of investment to improve outcomes for biodiversity, focused on projects within their own supply chain or beyond.

• Greater transparency is still needed to track biodiversity outcomes. Impact is still limited by the fact that only 14% of companies know the countries where their key raw materials are grown or extracted. Beyond country of origin, companies should also understand the broader landscape of where they are sourcing their materials, and 15% have already started mapping this against priority areas for biodiversity. 

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