Copenhagen Fashion Week Supports UN Sustainable Development Goals

Keenly aware of the fashion industry’s substantial environmental and social impact, Copenhagen Fashion Week has intensified its efforts to become a more sustainable event and industry platform through focusing on selected UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure and inspire a successful development of the industry. Later this year, a three-year plan to accelerate change in the industry will be revealed, but Copenhagen Fashion Week is already well on its way to implement change after announcing its intention in early 2019.

The fashion weeks are important industry events and the raison d’être of Copenhagen Fashion Week is to support successful development of the industry. This is why we believe that implementing radical, sustainable changes is crucial to ensure a sustainable industry. To utilise our position and privilege to influence the industry and to harness our capacity to propel change, we initiated the sustainable transition of Copenhagen Fashion Week. After establishing our sustainability advisory board this spring, Copenhagen Fashion Week initiated a strategic process focusing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (10, 12, 13 and 17). This resulted in three concrete initiatives presented at SS20 – the ban of single-use plastic bottles, our official activities and projects being climate postitive and the development of a 15-step Guide to a More Responsible Show, which we shared with brands before the summer. Furthermore, a three-year plan, which will introduce new standards for brands who wish to showcase their collections at Copenhagen Fashion Week, will be launched this fall. 

“I think that any fashion week should be using its’ voice, power and influence to talk about other things than trends, but also dare address the more important and urgent topics. The fashion weeks have a responsibility to urge – or require – the industries to speed up their sustainable transition,” states Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week.

In order to deliver on our vision to become a leading sustainable fashion week, Copenhagen Fashion Week established in early 2019 a sustainability advisory board and initiated a strategic process in cooperation with our knowledge partner In futurum focusing on selected UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Our sustainability strategy is underpinned by the UN SDGs, the following four in particular, to map the sustainability potential of Copenhagen Fashion Week. They will be updated annually to reflect new initiatives and new knowledge. The release of our three-year plan will furthermore present our specific SDG targets and future initiatives. The SDGs Copenhagen Fashion Week is focusing on is the following:

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
As co-founder of the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter, we work to ensure the well-being of employees in the Danish fashion industry and contribute to the creation of relevant and appropriate information on the beauty ideals the fashion industry is a part of creating. We also advocate for greater diversity in the fashion industry regarding, for example: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, size and socio-economic status.

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
We support and advocate for more conscious, sustainable production and consumption of fashion in all parts of the value chain. The launch in late 2019 of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s three-year plan, which is designed to accelerate the sustainable development of the fashion industry, will set new standards for fashion week participation, pushing the industry in a more responsible, future-proof direction.
Resource efficiency is also a centrepiece of the actual event production of Copenhagen Fashion Week. For instance in June 2019 we initiated a ban on single-use plastic bottles at all Copenhagen Fashion Week events, facilities, shows and showrooms, effective as of SS20. We also developed and published a free 15-step guide to inspire fashion brands to produce more responsible shows, presentations and events. The guide will be updated each season to reflect new insights and knowledge on responsible event production. In terms of our own production of fashion week activities, we always prioritise selecting sustainable options for supplies, including organic and preferably locally sourced food and snacks, sustainable beverages, no single-use plastic cutlery, straws or tableware, the most environmentally friendly busses available, electric cars and Fairtrade organic cotton staff t-shirts. We have stopped using goodie bags at our events.
As of 2020 we will release a sustainability report on our progress to hold ourselves accountable and to maintain transparency, while simultaneously encouraging fashion companies to do the same. 

SDG 13: Climate Action
Copenhagen Fashion Week’s own activities and projects are climate positive, mainly due to climate compensation and our support of a Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Gold Level tree-planting and forest conservation programme through RenSti. We offset the flights and hotel accommodation of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s invited international guests, our official opening dinner, the press busses (including the organic food and beverages served on the busses), the organic Fairtrade cotton shirts for staff, logo stickers for cars and we run a climate-neutral website. We furthermore only use electric cars during Copenhagen Fashion Week.
In 2020 our goal is to measure the event’s entire carbon footprint, including external events, in an effort to become climate positive the same year. We will continue to identify new solutions to reduce our impact, while being honest about using offsets to balance unavoidable carbon emissions.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Whenever possible we only work with responsible suppliers and partners pioneering sustainable products or who have established ambitious sustainability strategies. Our main areas of focus are food, snack and beverage suppliers for press busses and other vehicles, merchandise partners as well as our hotel partner.

Read more about sustainability at Copenhagen Fashion Week, or the Danish Fashion Ethical Charter.