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Traceability for Sustainable Value Chains - Textile and Leather Sector

The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries, responsible for more than 1,7 mln tons of CO2 emissions per year, and 90 mln tons of waste per year. Only 13% of clothing is recycled after its use, cascading mainly into less-value uses, when merely 1% is recycled in a closed-loop into new clothing. Not to mention the health impacts, as about 8% of dermatological diseases are reported to be caused by the chemicals in the clothing and footwear we wear. With current trajectories of production and consumption, these pressures will intensify by 2030.

Global and complex value chains, with production facilities scattered all over the world and widespread practices of illegitimate subcontracting and undeclared informal work, make it very hard to gain accurate information about how and where such impacts occur. In order to increase the industry’s ability to manage its value chain more sustainably, both consumers and businesses must first be aware of the nature and magnitude of these risks. Improving both traceability and transparency of value chains has therefore become a priority.

Our Focus

UNECE and UN/CEFACT, together with experts from governments, private sector, academia, international governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has looked into such risks and impacts and has produced a study. Based on its findings, in 2017, a project for an international framework initiative on transparency and traceability for sustainability in the textile and leather sector has been launched, in support of Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) on responsible production and consumption, of the 2030 Agenda. The project aims at setting up a multi-stakeholder platform, and developing policy recommendations, traceability standards and its implementation guidelines for sustainable textile and leather value chains.


5 June 2018: EDD 2018 - Lab Debate “Do you know where your clothes come from?” in Brussels, Belgium.

24 April 201831st UN/CEFACT Forum. Conference on “Traceability for Sustainable Value Chains: Textile and Leather Sector”

3 October 2017: 30th UN/CEFACT Forum. Conference on “Ethical and informed choices for sustainable clothing …” in Rome, Italy.

6 June 2017:The Emperor’s New Clothes



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If you wish to take part in the initiative or require further information, please contact maria-teresa.pisani@un.org