Fashion industry’s vague sustainability claims inspire UN playbook

By our News Team | 2023

Playbook acknowledges the power of fashion’s marketing engine and the role it plays in shaping desire, aspiration and consumption. 

Two UN environmental organisations recently launched the Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook, a guide for consumer-facing communicators in the global fashion industry. The aim is to help them align their public messaging to sustainability targets.

This playbook highlights the importance of shifting fashion communication to enable a sustainable and circular fashion sector – drawing attention to the role of marketers, brand managers, image-makers, storytellers, media platforms, influencers and others.


Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

The organisations which developed the playbook are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Climate Change-convened Fashion Charter.

According to the two bodies, the playbook shows communicators how to take action through:

  1. Countering misinformation.
  2. Reducing messages perpetuating overconsumption.
  3. Redirecting aspiration to more sustainable lifestyles.
  4. Empowering consumers to demand greater action from businesses and policymakers.

“While addressing production impacts is essential, shifting patterns of excess consumption in core markets is also a priority, which means confronting the dominant linear economic model and its accompanying narrative of newness, immediacy and disposability,” the UN bodies say in a media statement.

The power of fashion’s marketing engine

“The Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook acknowledges the power of fashion’s marketing engine and the significant role it plays in shaping desire, aspiration and levels of consumption. 

“It presents the need to direct such efforts towards sustainable and circular solutions as a creative opportunity. It provides a much-needed framework when policies around how to communicate environmental claims increasingly come into force. By leveraging their skills, communicators can be a part of the solution rather than contributors to the problem.”

Adds Daniel Cooney, Director of Communication at UNEP: “The balance between the science of sustainability and reimagining the fashion narrative is where communicators can excel. There is so much power in the stories fashion tells. If the fashion sector is to meet its sustainability targets, we need its enormous marketing engine to redirect its efforts towards sustainable consumption.”

Because sustainability has become a selling point for fashion brands, the UN warns that vague language and sustainability practices have become confusing for consumers and created mistrust.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.