Impact of Clothing on the Planet to receive attention at UNEA 6

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The sixth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 6) is opening up in Nairobi, Kenya next week (26 February to 1 March 2024). This biannual meeting is the world’s highest-level decision-making conference for matters related to the environment. The conference brings together 193 Member States, who dialogue on emerging environmental challenges and through resolutions, shapes the global environment agenda.

The highlight of UNEA 5 was the agreement by the Member States to set up an Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee to develop a global plastic treaty.

At this year’s UNEA, it is expected that the impact of clothing on the environment will become one of the key topics. A draft resolution seen by Clean Up Kenya and titled, Stepping up efforts for accelerating a circular economy transition domestically, regionally and globally, and which is proposed by the European Union and its Member States, highlights unsustainable growth of textiles production and consumption globally as an important issue. Production of clothing doubled from 2000 to 2015, according to a 2017 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report. This growth is having a devastating societal and environmental impact as the Changing Markets Foundation, Wildlight and Clean Up Kenya report revealed in 2023, which showed that countries in the global south such as Kenya have become disposal countries for global fashion.

In the draft resolution, which is expected to be tabled by France, the European Union will be asking the Member States, to increase the life cycle sustainability of textiles, including within the global trade of used textiles, which the Trashion report revealed was troubled. The resolution concludes by requesting the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director to engage stakeholders to develop a circular global textile value chain and present a report at UNEA 7, which is expected to be held in 2026.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Betterman Simidi Musasia

Founder & Patron, Former CEO, Clean Up Kenya

Betterman is a sustainable public sanitation advocate and a pollution control evangelist. In 2015, after becoming extremely tired of seeing all the trash in Kenyan neighborhoods and hearing the authorities fake promises to clear the mess, he sold his trucking business to establish Clean Up Kenya. Today, the organization is a leading national sustainable public sanitation advocacy brand. In September 2020, he stepped down as Clean Up Kenya Chief Executive Officer and currently serves as Founder and Patron.