All the best parties have a theme, and Textile Exchange’s annual industry event, which doubled as a celebration of the global fiber-sustainability coalition’s 15th anniversary, was no different. Held in Washington D.C., this past week, the five-day Textile Sustainability Conference wielded its focus, “United by Action: Catalyzing the Sustainable Development Goals in Textiles,” as both a rallying cry and a call to action for its 400-plus participants, including representatives from multinational brands and retailers such as Walmart, Gap, Target, H&M, C&A, IKEA, Timberland, Patagonia, and The North Face.
For businesses, the Sustainable Development Goals—SDGs for short—are still a relatively new idea. Adopted by the United Nations in late 2015 as an expansion of the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs lay out an ambitious roadmap for improving the lives of people around the world by 2030. Broadly speaking, they comprise 169 targets designed to advance 17 overarching goals, which include poverty eradication, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and decent work for all.