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Could Made in Italy become synonymous with sustainability?

“While these efforts are necessary, more emphasis should be placed on activities aimed at eliminating waste from the outset,” says Marilyn Martinez, project manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s fashion initiative. “Shifting the focus from ‘downstream’ to ‘upstream’ activities will be a significant step forward.”

Journalist and podcaster Clare Press in conversation with Lorenzo Bertelli, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Prada Group, who explains that his motivation for sustainable innovation comes from his love of snow and his desire to preserve the natural world.

Photo: Courtesy of Venice Sustainable Fashion Forum

Prada showcased the latest iteration of its Sea Beyond partnership with Unesco, which it says has trained 600 students in four countries since its launch in 2019, and is funded by sales of Prada’s Re-Nylon collection. “Kindergarten of the Lagoon” will educate Venetian school children about ocean preservation, using the region as a case study. “I care about sustainability today because I learned it in a simple way when I was a child,” says Lorenzo Bertelli, head of corporate social responsibility at Prada Group, who appointed as the company’s next CEO. “This project aims to shape future society and Prada employees by changing the hearts and minds of the future generation.”

Bertelli says sustainability is crucial to the Prada Group’s future success, and that starts with changing the mindset of employees, which is why the “Driver of Change” learning program he developed with l Unesco to accompany Sea Beyond is being deployed in the 13,000 -strong workforce. “Zero impact is not possible in a capitalist world, but we can try to have the smallest impact possible,” Bertelli says. “The dream is to move towards stakeholder capitalism and create a stronger balance between people and the environment. To do this, it is important to create more value with smaller volumes. It is not simple and there is no single formula, but whoever has more must do more.

CNMI has partnered with the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) on a suite of due diligence, performance tracking and reporting tools, in hopes of making sustainability reporting as clear and standardized as financial reports. The six-step process includes the ESG General Due Diligence Supply Chain Assessment Tool; an Environment Tool to assess the impact of a brand’s supply chain; a living wage tool to perform due diligence on wages and social risks; a work, health and safety risk mapping tool for occupational hazards; an ILO Better Work Tool for human rights guidelines; and a sustainability report template for sharing all of the above with consumers and investors. This was first announced in 2021 and will now be made available to all CNMI members after a year of testing and fine-tuning.

“There are too many measures for sustainable fashion, and we had to find a way to streamline them. It’s not another metric, it’s a platform designed to be fed with data that already exists,” says Simone Cipriani, Founder and CEO of EFI. “If brands have invested in existing programs and certifications, it should be incredibly easy to use. It’s a way to bring it all together in a responsible business framework, to enable consistent reporting across companies. The framework has been set up as a non-profit agency that its founders hope will be used globally.Participating brands may have to pay a small fee to maintain the platform, but that is yet to be determined.

“At the conference next year, we will be able to measure our progress on these important projects,” says Capasa. “It’s a long journey, but we have to start somewhere.”

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