“The Climate Action Training is a foundational element for the textile and garment industry to upskill itself”

“The Climate Action Training is a foundational element for the textile and garment industry to upskill itself”

by Juliette Tafreschi created 2021-03-02T12:31:02+07:00
An interview with Tracy Nilsson, adidas' Senior Director of Social-Environmental Affair and a passionate advocate for sustainability issues in the fashion industry.

Tracy Nilsson, adidas' Senior Director of Social-Environmental Affair, is a passionate advocate for sustainability issues in the fashion industry. In September 2019, the GIZ FABRIC project organized a workshop on renewable energy and energy efficiency in the textile and garment industry with adidas and the Vietnamese Textile and Garment Association (VITAS) as partners. The idea for a Climate Action Training program emerged as a follow-up to this first collaboration. Nilsson, as Co-chair of the working group on Manufacturing at the UN Fashion Charter for Climate Action, brought the idea to the attention of her peer brands and manufactures. It was in this forum, where the concept for the web-based trainings matured and came to live as a result of the collaboration between brands, manufacturers, UNFCCC and GIZ.

The Climate Action Training is designed to help brands and manufacturers to meet the goals of the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. As an introductory training, it aims to enable suppliers to get started to achieve the 30% reduction target by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. It is targeted at top management and technical mid-management of Tier 1 & 2 suppliers in the textile, garment and footwear sector. The online training offers two different course formats: A web-based learning and a tutored training module – both with a total of 5 modules. 1 - 2 hours per module are allocated for the self-paced learning module, 6 weeks must be planned for the tutored training. The modules are designed from simple to complex - enabling easy access, as well as the possibility to choosing different intensities to deal with the topic. The Climate Action Training is available now on the German development cooperation platform Atingi.org HERE and, in a first step, available in English, Mandarin and Vietnamese. The use of the platform is free of charge. Brands and manufacturers who want to take advantage of more in-depth training can make use of tutors that were trained on the materials in Cambodia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

We talked to co-initiator, Tracy Nilsson, about the benefits of the online training, why the focus on Climate Action in the fashion industry is so close to her heart, what companies can proactively do and how the Climate Action Training can help on the decarbonization journey.

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Let us know why the focus on Climate Action in the textile and garment industry is so close to your heart?
Being in the sustainability profession for more than 20 years now has taught me many valuable lessons; but the most important one is that being actively involved in the Climate Action agenda gives me a better chance to shift the industry mindset and accelerate low carbon manufacturing solutions and adopt renewable energy within the supply chain. Climate Action compels me in finding new ways of collaboration so the industry can win together.

What is the Climate Action Training all about?
The Climate Action Training is a foundational element for the textile and garment industry to upskill itself in the constant changing environment of sustainable production processes. Users will improve their understanding about greenhouse gas emissions, how to measure them, how to set reduction targets and how to follow-up and report on these. The partnership, collaboration and development for the web-based training is unique. It aims to create an interactive and supported learning experience, equipping participants to lead with impact in a changing business world.

What are the biggest climate-related risks for the textile and garment industry?
The world faces no greater threat than climate change, and the fashion industry is making a sizeable contribution to the warming of the planet for which it must take responsibility. Reaching zero net greenhouse gas emissions will require far-reaching changes for fashion companies which includes changing both the way we produce clothes and how we consume them.

Why is it important to motivate companies to take action to reduce their impact on the environment?
The global fashion industry is one of the largest, most dynamic and influential industries on the planet, generating over 1.5 trillion EUR a year in revenues. Therefore, it should also have the power to play a pivotal role in leading the shift towards a more sustainable future. Global supply chains are complex and constantly shifting, so it’s not surprising that these emissions are difficult to measure. However, we cannot wait for perfect information before we act. The industry must move quickly to significantly reduce emissions along global supply chains.

Why should a manager of a supplier factory invest time in the implementation of the Climate Action Training?
Factory managers will gain insightful information, tools and practical examples on where and how to start. Often manufacturers, even brands lack the right information to effectively reduce carbon emissions across their global supply chain. The Climate Action Training will go into depth on the four main levers (energy efficiency, onsite and offsite renewable energy, and coal replacement) and will help amplifying best practices, address gaps, provide tools and strengthening collaboration to promote and scale low carbon manufacturing solutions.

Will implementing the Climate Action Training get factories measurable results such as financial benefits or savings at factory level?
Everyone approaches sustainability differently. By identifying projects with shorter paybacks and clear cost savings, these programs can be entirely self-funding, requiring no upfront capital from suppliers. Participating in the Climate Action Training and the workshops on a virtual platform can build the knowledge foundation and significantly accelerate the speed and scale of both cost savings and emissions reduction. This is a chance for the industry to take responsibility, collaborate with partners and work with stakeholders to transform our industry practice into a low carbon one!