How Messe Frankfurt’s Textile Trade Shows Support the SDGs
Here, Schmidt discusses the impact of Messe Frankfurt’s SDG engagement, how the mindset around sustainability must change, and why being green doesn’t necessarily cost more. Why did Messe Frankfurt’s Texpertise decide to commit to the United Nations’ SDGs and partner with the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network and the UN Office for Partnerships? Launching multi-stakeholder collaborations, sharing knowledge and sustainability, and prompting the whole fashion and textile sector to make the industry more sustainable at an international level—it is at these decisive points that the collaboration between our Texpertise Network with the UNOP and CFLN is providing valuable incentives. Through our voluntary commitment to the SDGs and our related initiatives, we are reaching the industry’s exhibitors and trade visitors, media professionals, social media multipliers, end consumers, and representatives of government equally. I am deeply convinced that collaboration is key to fostering transformative engagement and accelerating the implementation of the SDGs. Mobilizing expertise, innovation, technology, and resources can only be achieved through strong partnerships. This is why Messe Frankfurt’s Texpertise Network became one of the first members of the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network and why we will continue to work closely with the UN Office for Partnerships. What is the benefit of using the SDGs as a guide for the fashion and textile industry in particular? Economic success in the global textile sector can only be achieved with a consistent sustainability strategy. The SDGs offer important starting points and orientation for this. They show the way forward, offer scope for cooperation in a spirit of partnership, and ultimately form the common value system of a large, future-oriented global community. Health, security, and general welfare are subjects that have shifted more urgently than ever into the main focus of politics and society and in this process have become closely linked with the global challenges addressed in the SDGs at economic, social, and ecological levels. A major role in achieving these goals is played by networking with the industry and communicating with the various interest groups. The international textile and fashion industry, with its far-reaching influence on the environment and working conditions, can provide decisive leverage in this process. Since our Texpertise Network reflects the whole of the value-added chain, we regard this as a duty, and at the same time as an opportunity, to promote the Sustainable Development Goals actively at our worldwide textile events, to sharpen global awareness of the need for more sustainability, and to meet the manifold challenges of our time. Out of the 17 SDGs, which three should be at the top of apparel companies’ action plans? That is a very difficult question. On the one hand, it is the nature of the SDGs that they work primarily in combination with each other. Secondly—and I find this even more important here—it depends very much on the conditions of the respective region or individual company as to which objectives it should tackle first. However, if I had to select three of the goals for the textile apparel industry, I would go for SDGs 4, 12, and 17.SDG 4: Education, because it forms the basis for all other ambitions. By providing information and education, we strengthen knowledge and awareness of the links between sustainable action and economic success in the long term.SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, because it is potentially something that many companies can directly influence and at the same time has a major impact.SDG 17: Partnerships, because I am convinced that we can only overcome current and future challenges on this path through joint efforts, thereby inspiring and driving each other forward.