About the Partnership 

H&M and WWF entered a partnership for the first time in 2011, focusing on water stewardship. The partnership was the first of its kind, as it took the whole supply chain into account and went far beyond the factory lines. The aim was to raise awareness, to improve responsible water use throughout H&M’s entire supply chain and to inspire other companies to take action toward more responsible water management.
In 2016, the partnership expanded to also include climate action and a strategic dialogue related to H&M’s and the fashion industry’s broader sustainability challenges and opportunities - marking one more important step towards a more sustainable fashion industry. In April 2017, H&M announced a new climate strategy that had been developed in collaboration with WWF and entered WWF's global programme Climate Savers. 

Why We Have Partnered

The textile industry is an important focus area for WWF as raw materials and processing locations are often based in some of the world's most water stressed and polluted river basins. Textile supply chains are also often based in countries where a high share of fossil energy is used.
By working together, combining expertise and leadership and taking a holistic approach on water, climate and strategic decisions, H&M and WWF have the potential to accomplish real change - within H&M’s organization and beyond. As H&M is a leading player in the fashion industry, they have the position to influence suppliers, customers and other brands in their industry to become more sustainable. Further, the partnership wants to showcase to other companies, within the textile sector and beyond, that focusing on more sustainable practices is both feasible and valuable for business. 

How We Work Together

- Water stewardship

Since 2011, WWF and H&M have been working according to WWF’s model for water stewardship using a 4-step approach, targeting suppliers, staff, consumers, governments and other stakeholders. The work has involved developing H&M’s and their value chain’s water management (steps 1-3) as well as focusing on collective action (step 4) on the ground in countries such as China and Bangladesh. The partnership has also included support for WWF’s water conservation projects in the Yangtze River basin.
As of 2016, the partnership's main focus is on expanding the collective action (step 4) with other companies, policy makers and civil society at chosen river basins in China. H&M also continues to develop the organization’s water practices (steps 1-3). 

The 4 steps in our work include:

1. Water awareness amongst staff, suppliers, and the general public with focused and targeted communications activities. 
2. Measuring impacts to capture high quality data, to allow H&M to understand water risk and performance across all its operations and supply chain.
3. Internal action: 

  • Within H&M supply chain: moving towards better water stewardship practices, minimizing suppliers’ impact on water.
  • Within H&M´s own operations: making all relevant changes to the company’s internal structures to ensure implementation of good water stewardship practices, setting extended targets for water impact reduction, effective stakeholder engagement and moving towards sourcing more sustainable raw materials beyond existing targets.
4. External action:
  • Working together on collective stakeholder engagement and water management forums in prioritized river basins, such as the Yangtze river basin in China.
  • Working together on global stakeholder platforms, such as CEO Water Mandate, and industry platforms, such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
  • Working together with the Better Cotton Initiative platform.
  Read result report for the water stewardship work 2013-2015

- Climate action

On climate, WWF and H&M work to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in prioritized parts of H&M’s value chain by engaging suppliers, customers and policy makers. In 2016, WWF supported H&M in developing a new climate strategy and to setting long-term and short-term goals for its climate work.

In April 2017, H&M presented the new climate strategy and also announced its entry to Climate Savers, WWF's global climate programme for business. A short-term climate target for H&M is to reduce emissions in operational operations by 2020 and a long-term goal is to become climate-positive throughout the value chain by 2040.

With "climate positive", H&M means that the company will reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than their value chain generates. In order to reach this goal, H&M will focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. To address the unavoidable emissions, H&M and WWF will look at measures to strengthen the planet’s ability to recover and resist climate change, as well as supporting technological innovations to absorb greenhouse gases.

Read more about climate partnership and the goals in WWF's press release on climate savers.org.

- Strategy dialogue

Between 2016-2020, the creation of a strategic dialogue aims to support H&M in the journey to become more sustainable, moving toward circularity and leading change in the industry.
The strategic dialogue will explore H&M’s and the textile industry’s broader sustainability challenges and possibilities. This could involve topics like a renewable materials or circular fashion models, aiming to bring sustainable and science based solutions to both H&M and the fashion industry.

This partnership enables H&M to explore future possibilities and address two of our main sustainability challenges, climate and water, in a constructive way. Simultaneously we’re aiming to influence our industry to move in the same direction. The partnership will showcase to other companies that taking on sustainable business practices is fundamental for future business success.

— Olle Blidholm, Environmental Sustainability Manager, H&M.

Partnership Results

During 2011-2015 we have:
- Given roughly 70,000 of H&M's employees water training.
- Implemented standards for better water and chemical management in more than 500 wet processing suppliers.
- Developed China's first water stewardship guidelines for the textile industry.
- Established a ground-breaking industrial park project in China, aiming to bring social, economic and ecological benefits to participating suppliers and the surrounding ecosystem. Long term, the project will serve as a model for similar industrial park areas.
- Supported a project to restore the health of the Yangtze River, contributing to the survival of the endangered river porpoise and more sustainable practices used by farmers in the river basin.
- Brought forth analysis of the economic risk factors for the apparel industry and the crucial link to sustainable water use. This report can be used to bolster the case for investment in water management.
Water Stewardship can be described as actions made by companies who seek to improve the efficiency and cleanliness of their internal operations and in their supply chain, while also facilitating the sustainable management of shared freshwater resources through collaboration with other businesses, governments, NGOs, communities and others.
Find out about other companies we work with

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Corporate Relations
WWF International
T: +41 22 364 9516
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