What Are The Sustainable Development Goals And Why Should Your Brand Support Them

Stephanie Steele Monday, 11 January 2021

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

In this article, we look at each of the 17 goals, and highlight some fashion brands and fashion-related businesses that have the SDGs as part of their core mission. Aligning your business with these goals is not only good for marketing, but provides you with structure to your brand strategy, inspiration for your mission, and guidance so that you stay on track.


The Sustainable Development Goals seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. The Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.

Timeline:

What is it for?

People

The UN are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.

Planet

They are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Prosperity

They are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.

Peace

They are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

Partnership

The UN are determined to mobilise the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

~ taken from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Sustainable Development) site

The Goals and fashion brands aligned with them

*Note: these are brands and businesses that have outwardly shown they are implementing the SDGs. While there are many brands aligned with these targets, they have not dedicated themselves to working towards targets. If you would like to integrate any of the goals into your business model, gaining guidance from the UN is preferable as it helps in your marketing, keeps you on track and shows your customers what you value.

Goal 1: NO POVERTY.

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Outland Denim - Founded as an avenue for the training and employment of women who have experienced sex trafficking, today these women craft premium denim from the finest raw materials from around the world. 750 people, so far, have benefited from stable employment with Outland Denim in Cambodia.

Eileen Fisher - this fashion brand do not state they're aligned with the SDG's on their site, but are B Corp Certified, have green initiatives for their warehouses and distribution, and donate grants to nonprofits and NGOs from empowering women to ensuring planetary health. They also importantly prevent human trafficking in their supply chain.

Goal 2: ZERO HUNGER.

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Pantys - a Brazilian brand that creates funky reusable period underwear.

Goal 4: QUALITY EDUCATION.

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5: GENDER EQUALITY.

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Swarovski Waterschool - The Swarovski Waterschool was created in 2000 with the goal of establishing water education programs along the major rivers of the world. As the Swarovski Waterschool has grown and expanded, programs have been implemented along rivers in over 2,400 schools in 7 countries.

Goal 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY.

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Goal 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH.

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Let Them Live Again (Institute TEAM) - this upcycling pioneer rescue non-recyclable materials coming from events and museums that are discarded as single use plastics. They provide women coming from vulnerable groups such as refugees an opportunity to enhance their employ ability and start creating their own micro business by developing technical sewing skills thus facilitating their social integration.

Artistic Milliners - a denim brand that work with the ginners to improve conditions and market pricing for this part of the supply chain.

Goal 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE.

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Fashinnovation - Fashinnovation Inc. is a global platform hosting global events for the fashion industry with a focus on innovations & technologies paving the way towards sustainability and the SDG's to brands and also highlighting the SDG's to the fashion industry on a global scale.

Goal 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES.

Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES.

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Materiamx - AI-powered supply chain tools where fashion brands and retailers can eliminate and monetise textile waste, tracking and analysing data to keep unused raw materials out of landfills and turn pollution into profit.

Goal 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION.

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Global Goals Centre (Fast Fashion Project) - An immersive visitor experience to enable school children and the public to understand the social and environmental impacts of fast fashion and be inspired to help bring positive change to the industry such as buying less and using for longer, and campaigning for positive industry change.

Maggie Marilyn - a fashion brand with a very clear sustainability strategy that should be read for any fashion entrepreneur looking to measure their impact. They use only yarn made from post-consumer waste for their synthetics, create collections from existing fabrics, use 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, they have a Supplier Code Of Conduct and measure carbon emissions. But, they are clear in their ongoing goals for water management, repurposing garments and using recycled natural fibres.

Listen to an interview with Maggie here.

Goal 13: CLIMATE ACTION.

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*.

Ganni - a fashion brand that is quite vocal in the initiatives they have introduced, including a take-back scheme, rental platform and introducing more certified, organic and recycled fabrics into their collections.

Goal 14: LIFE BELOW WATER.

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

RubyMoon Swim - a not-for-profit swim and activewear brand that has integrated all 17 goals into their business model. Most notably, the profits are given as loans to female entrepreneurs. But the brand uses recycled polyamide for their garments, and offer a take back scheme. They also have real-life active women as their models.

Hear from founder Jo-Anne Godden in this presentation as part of our Starting An Eco Swimwear Line Masterclass.

Goal 15: LIFE ON LAND.

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Mara Hoffman - another fashion brand that doesn't outwardly say they are aligned with the SDGs, yet you can see all the initiatives and nonprofits that this company support, and know they are putting considerable efforts into making change for people and planet. From working with Earth Matter who improve organic matter, and supporting policies and practices that protect and preserve our water resources with the Blue Business Council.

Goal 16: PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG FOUNDATIONS.

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Anyango Mpinga - Free As A Human Foundation is a non profit organisation advocating the end of human trafficking and modern slavery. It was founded by fashion designer and social activist anyango mpinga, to raise awareness of the social and economic injustices that occur within the fashion supply chain and the wider consumer sectors, which exploit workers.

Goal 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS.

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.

Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network - Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network commits to the Sustainable Development Goals in global collaboration with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to integrate the SDGs into 60 leading international textile trade fairs and events in 12 countries, attracting more than 23,000 companies and over half a million trade visitors annually.

Regenerate Fashion - assessment, strategy and certification for fashion brands, with the SDGs as a framework for their consultancy.


You can download all print and web media for use as a business or to share on social media here.


Additional reading:

Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

Four years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the report notes progress in some areas, such as on extreme poverty reduction, widespread immunisation, decrease in child mortality rates and increase in people’s access to electricity, but warns that global response has not been ambitious enough, leaving the most vulnerable people and countries to suffer the most.

Share your SDG Good Practices with the UN (register before February 28th 2021)

UN DESA is calling on all changemakers, trailblazers and fearless activists to share their stories with the world. We are looking for good practices, success stories and lessons learned that could help others take action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network

The Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network is an online platform for industry stakeholders, Governments and NGOs to showcase actions, report progress and share solutions accelerating the sectors contribution to advance the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030. Registered initiatives will be published publicly and form the basis of periodic analysis and evaluation of how the fashion and lifestyle sectors are driving change and implementation of the SDGs. Registered initiatives should show a concrete contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the network, respect the principles of the United Nations, and follow the SMART criteria - being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced-based with Time-based deliverables.

Five Ways Fashion Brands Can Advance The Sustainable Development Goals, November 9th 2018 [Yale Center for Business and the Environment]

Apparel brands can “A.D.A.P.T” to shifting consumer demands and climate threats by advancing the SDGs. The points were taken from Textile Exchange's Sustainable Textiles conference.