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The UN has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which act as a blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals address some of the biggest global challenges we are currently facing, including poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. Each goal consists of a transformative set of sustainability, economic, and social targets to achieve by 2030 and call on global and local actors – governments, private sector, civil society – to play their part. In the first link above you’ll find more information on each of the goals, along with what you can do at an individual level to do your part.

Apart from many of these goals being the right thing to do, and a necessity for our continued habitation of this planet, there is a strong business case for achieving the targets set by the goals: the “Better Business, Better World” report estimates that achieving the SDGs creates $12 trillion in market opportunities!

Threading the Needle, a report by the not for profit Textile Exchange, focusses on 8 of the 17 goals that the fashion industry can have the biggest impact in helping to achieve by setting out an “SDG Engagement Framework”. This provides companies with examples of the first steps they can take to integrate the goals into their core business. 

The framework sets out three “opportunity clusters” that relate to specific SDGs for suppliers, brands and retailers to focus their efforts on and provides case studies of how SDGs are already being implemented:

-        Product, sourcing and services

o   Most affected goals: 6. Clean Water and Sanitation, 7. Affordable and Clean Energy, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 12. Responsible Production and Consumption, 15. Life on Land

-        Underexploited market opportunities

o   Most affected goals: 7. Affordable and Clean Energy, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 10. Reduced Inequalities

-        Responsible, engaged and transparent value chain

o   Most affected goals: 5. Gender equality, 6. Clean Water and Sanitation, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequalities, 12. Responsible Production and Consumption

SDG 13. Climate Action is a cross cutting issue across all of the above.

The framework emphasises the need for action plans, targets and key performance indicators to be implemented to underpin the above areas of focus to ensure ownership, transparency and accountability, and change needs to be driven from the top down.