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Sustainable, forest-based fashion brought to life at the United Nations

Mar 06 2018

unece fashion event 2018bCould you ever imagine that your clothes could be from trees? We may not know it, but many of us are already wearing materials that started life in the forest!

These forest-based materials are much more environmentally friendly than cotton and other synthetic fibers, requiring less water and energy to produce. And if they originate in a PEFC-certified forest, we know the materials are from a sustainably managed forest that will be around for generations to come.

Forests for Fashion

“At PEFC, we believe the forests can play a huge role in the shift to a more sustainable and environmentally aware fashion industry,” said Sarah Price, Head of Projects and Development at PEFC International.

“Through our Forests for Fashion initiative in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), we are promoting the increased use of forest-derived materials as a sustainable alternative to conventional materials.”

We brought this idea to life at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region in Geneva, 1 March, as models displayed a range of clothes and accessories made of fibers that originated in PEFC-certified forests.

Designed by students from the Institute for Italian Design (IID) in Perugia, these clothes were the result of a PEFC Collaboration Fund project run by PEFC Italy.

unece fashion event 2018a

“It was fantastic to see these unique and sustainable designs showcased around a UN event, bringing the reality of using forests in fashion to the forefront of the discussion,” continued Sarah.

Fashion and the SDGs

The fashion show kicked off a UNECE side event ‘Fashion and the SDGs: what role for the UN?’, which explored the key sustainability challenges and solutions for the fashion industry.

unece fashion event 2018cThe event brought together a wide variety of stakeholders from many different UN organizations, civil society and industry to highlight the multiple opportunities for the fashion industry to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

From responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), gender equality (SDG 5) and clean water and sanitation, (SDG 6) to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), climate action (SDG 13) and life on land (SDG 15), sustainable, forest-based fashion has the potential to contribute to many of the SDGs.

But to unlock the full potential, the sector needs radical transformation and innovative solutions. That’s where PEFC certification has an important role to play - mobilizing forest-based solutions towards creating a sustainable fashion sector.

What’s next?

This event is part of our Forests for Fashion initiative, run in partnership with the UNECE and other UN agencies. Together, we are linking forest-based materials from sustainably managed forests with the world of fashion. Bringing these fantastic, innovative and sustainable materials to a wider audience.

Join us in New York in July as we bring stunning forest fashion to the halls of the UN headquarters, as part of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development! For more information on how you can get involved, contact us at

All photographs courtesy of UNEC/FAO - check out more photos from the event!

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 313 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 19,800

(as of December 2017)
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