H&M fashion firm and World Wild Life develop joint water strategy

H&M fashion firm and World Wild Life develop joint water strategy

H&M worldwide fashion firm (founded in Sweden in 1947) and WWF World Wild Life conservation organisation have signed a three year global partnership in order to form a game changer in the fashion industry and in view to develop a new cutting edge water strategy

This partnership marks an evolution in the corporate approach of H&M Hennes and Mauritz  (48 markets and 750 suppliers) corporate approach to water by which H&M recognises that it long-term success depends on access to adequate water supplies and its social license to operate depends on being a good neighbour and good steward of shared resources. H&M’s water strategy is an integral part of its business plan.

During 2012, WWF and H&M performed a comprehensive evaluation of all H&M’s efforts and challenges in connection with water and its findings formed the basis of the new H&M water strategy. Starting in 2013, WWF and H&M will implement the plan together, and according to WWF sources no other fashion company in the world has such a comprehensive global water strategy.

The new approach starts already at the drawing board, H&M designers and buyers will receive additional training in the water impacts of raw material production as well as wet processes for different styles, to promote more sustainable choices. WWF and H&M will work in collaboration with public policy makers, NGO’s, water institutions and other companies to support better management of particular river basins in China and Bangladesh, two countries who are major suppliers to the global fashion makers .

H&M will also improve its internal water efficiency, minimise its suppliers’ impact on water, train all staff in water issues and inspire customers to use water responsibility.  In addition, H&M will support the WWF conservations projects on water in the Chinese Yangtze River Basin, and we have already reported on the negative impact of textile production on the water quality of that particular river in China.

Currently, 2.7 billion people, roughly 40 % of the world’s population – live in river basins that experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year, according to WWWF’s 2012 Living Planet Report. About a third of the mills which perform wet processes for H&M are located in areas which are now, or will be by 2025, considered extreme water scarce. This partnership builds on 10 years of H&M’s work to reduce negative water impacts in different parts of the value chain.

The strategy will be implemented across all of H &M’s 48 national markets, with the aim of reaching all 750 direct suppliers and many fabric manufacturers with information about the new adopted water strategy. H&M will initially work on engagement on water management with 190 suppliers manufacturing the majority of its products. River basin stakeholder engagement will be focused on the Yangtze in China and Brahmaputra in Bangladesh.

The involvement of H&M staff in buying offices numbers at around 1000 and sales will be directly involved in implementing the strategy. All 94000 H&M employees will learn about water issues.

WWF’s innovative model of water stewardship encompasses all aspects of business’ approach to water and moves beyond the “factory gate” to address impacts in relevant river basins. H&M and WWF have worked together to understand how H&M can move towards best practice in all these aspects.

Virginia’s reflections

TextileFuture voices the opinion that this new partnership will serve as a model to other fashion and textile companies and might lead to the effect that production in China and Bangladesh will become more sustainable and to allow the people along the river banks to live healthier. We consider it not only a smart move but also a difficult task to come to terms with WWF and we commend H&M to break the ice in creating a partnership that seeks as an initial invitation to other fashion giants to follow this initial step.



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