WWF and H&M: The journey of water stewardship – year one



Posted on 30 January 2014  | 
One year ago, WWF signed a partnership with the global fashion company H&M with the goal of developing a cutting-edge water stewardship strategy – one that works across the supply chain and can serve as a model for the fashion industry and beyond.

“Long-term success in sustainable water management takes time. But this partnership is built on an understanding that water is a shared resource and a shared risk for business, communities and nature. We are on a journey together to create solutions that work for all water users,” says Stuart Orr, Head of Water Stewardship at WWF International.

In year one, we have already started to see the first achievements of the partnership.

“We quickly realised that both organisations share common views and want to achieve tangible results. Since the launch, we have made water awareness part of H&M’s global sustainability training for all 104,000 employees. Together, we have mapped water risks for H&M’s 500 supplier factories working with wet processes and updated our routines to monitor wastewater treatment. Through the partnership, H&M is also supporting a WWF conservation project in China’s Yangtze River basin,” said Helena Helmersson, H&M’s Head of Sustainability.

“The problems of water supply and quality are felt across society, and by the species that rely on freshwater ecosystems. Shared risks to water security require collaborative action,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “By working with H&M, we want to inspire a shift of the whole fashion industry toward responsible water stewardship. The aims of this partnership are high, and so are the stakes.”

Going well beyond water efficiency in textile factories, this partnership will advocate for better water management plans in key river basins in China and Bangladesh. These management plans should account for ecological sustainability, continued economic benefits from natural resources and meet people’s needs.

H&M is also supporting WWF’s work to save the iconic Yangtze finless porpoise. The species acts as an indicator of the health of the river system, and is currently under severe stress. Specific activities to safeguard the porpoises include improving sustainable fisheries and decreasing pollution from agriculture through farmer education.
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