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UN/CEFACT Mini Conference on “Ethical and informed choices for sustainable clothing – Tracking and tracing textile supply chains”

3 October 2017

Rome, Italy


Clothing is one of the biggest industries in the world economy, generating revenues for around US$ 3 trillion, producing 80 billion garments and employing approximately 60 to 75 million direct jobs worldwide. The industry is a global one, with its supply chains spreading across all countries in the world, and is mostly driven by big retailers and traders that determine where to produce, what to produce and at which prices. As drivers of one of the biggest economic sector in the global economy and key influencers of consumption habits, they have a responsibility to respect and protect social and human rights and the environment.

Over the past decades, the negative social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry have been well documented, showing that they mostly happen in the upstream part of the supply chain. The Pulse Index (Boston Business Consulting and Danish Fashion Institute) shows in fact, that while big fashion brands have started to embrace sustainability, also because of media campaigns led by activists and civil society organizations, SMEs representing the vast majority of suppliers, remain a blind spot.

The lack of complete and transparent information about where and by whom materials are sourced, transformed and assembled, and about the effects on the environment and human health of practices and processes along with the working conditions across the supply chain is a key gap. Improving traceability has therefore become a priority for the industry, in order to increase its ability to manage its supply chains both more efficiently and sustainably. Successful examples in the agri-food sector and the work UN/CEFACT has so far accomplished on traceability for sustainable trade of agri-food products, have confirmed the potential benefits associated with more transparent and traceable supply chains and provide useful experiences and tools from which the clothing industry could draw upon.

This Conference will discuss new business models and circularity for sustainability, the latest traceability solutions and technology, and where possibilities for multi-stakeholders collaboration lie to facilitate transparency in textile supply chains. The aim is identify basic principles, possible solutions and provide specific recommendations for an international framework initiative on transparency and traceability for sustainability patterns in the clothing sector, in support of Sustainable Development Goals 12 on responsible production and consumption.

More specifically this conference aims at:

  • Discussing the key findings of the UNECE draft background research paper on transparency in textile value chains in relation to the environmental, social and human health impacts of parts, components and production processes (draft to be shared by 18 September 2017).
  • Receive input from experts in trade facilitation and textile supply chains, on a project for a UN track and trace standard for the textiles business chain (draft to be shared by 18 September 2017).
  • Receive specific recommendations to launch a project on an international framework initiative on traceability for sustainable clothing (draft to be shared by 18 September 2017).
  • Define ways forward.


  • Opening (10:30 to 11:00): Deputy Minister of theItalian Ministry of Economic Development (tbc)
  • Morning session (11:00 to 12:30): Key note speeches and interactive discussion with key stakeholders on trends, challenges and opportunities (government agencies, NGOs, international organizations, the business sector)
  • Afternoon session (13:30 to 17:30): Four parallel roundtable on the following themes: 1) Traceability and sustainability in textile supply chains – experiences and good practices; 2) Business sector engagement and consumers awareness; 3) Innovative IT solutions (e.g. application of Blockchain technology); 4) Legal and regulatory frameworks– available tools and gaps to be addressed.
  • Closing (17:30 to 18:00): Wrap-up of roundtable discussions, presentation of key recommendations and ways forward.

Target Audience
Experts on trade facilitation, international supply chain management, sustainability and textile from governments, the private sector, academia and international organizations.

Registration & Participation
Registration is compulsory for attending the Mini Conference. You are kindly invited to register through the 30th UN/CEFACT Forum online registration .

Participation is free of charge but participants are responsible for making their own travel and accommodation arrangements.

Should you need any more information about the Mini Conference, please do not hesitate to contact the UNECE secretariat by e-mail at forum.registration@unece.org.

This mini conference is organised by UNECE in collaboration the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T