February 2, 2023

Spanish fashion retailer Inditex and wilderness conservation organization WWF have signed a three-year partnership agreement to invest in wildlife restoration and work on nine transformation projects in North Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America. The partners will focus on forest restoration and conservation, restoration and conservation of water basins, and protection of species and habitats.

Inditex will annually contribute a minimum of EUR 3 million to WWF, of which EUR 4.2 million for 2022. This amounts to a total contribution of more than EUR 10 million over the term of the partnership. The money will partly come from funds earned by charging consumers for paper bags and envelopes, an initiative launched in 2021 with the aim of promoting the use of reusable alternatives.

“Our sustainability strategy aims to increase the positive impact of our work on people, communities and natural resources. We are therefore delighted to partner with organizations such as WWF who share our determination to help protect and restore ecosystems worldwide. We believe that WWF, with its proven track record and global reach, is the best long-term partner to strengthen our environmental commitments through transformational work focused on our entire industry,” said Inditex CEO Óscar García Maceiras at the signing ceremony in Geneva.

Forest restoration and conservation

Planned forest restoration and conservation efforts will affect regions in Spain, Turkey, Italy and Greece. The Castile-La Mancha region accounts for more than 13 percent of Spain’s total forest area and a project will aim to protect the region’s biodiversity and promote sustainable management. In Turkey, efforts are supporting forest restoration in Datça-Bozburun and in Italy, the oak forests of the Cratere degli Astroni Nature Reserve in Naples, both of which have been affected by recent wildfires. In Greece, forest conservation efforts will protect Dadia, a vital haven for European raptors.

Restoration and conservation of water basins

Basin restoration and conservation projects are concentrated in North Africa, particularly the Sebou River in Morocco and the coastal wetlands of Ghar el Melah, and the wetlands of the Guerbes-Sanhadja Plain in Tunisia and Algeria. In addition, a project in Vietnam working to restore the Tra Su wetlands in the upper Mekong Delta with the aim of increasing climate resilience and increasing biodiversity in the area will receive increased funding.

Species and habitat conservation

Finally, species and habitat conservation projects include the preservation of the Gran Chaco tropical forest and the Pantanal wetlands through community projects in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. In Mexico, WWF is working with local organizations to protect and restore the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and the Central Pacific Jaguar Landscape to secure the future of the near-threatened jaguar and endangered monarch butterfly and other key species and communities that depend on these landscapes. to secure.

Elsewhere, WWF works in the Taihang-Yan Mountains of northern China’s Amur-Heilong region. This mountain region is vital habitat for several medium and large predators, including 60 percent of the country’s leopard population.

Collaboration

The rest of the money earned from the sale of paper bags and envelopes will be invested in environmental projects run by a range of other organizations, such as the sanitation improvement projects promoted by Water.org in several Southeast Asian countries and the collaboration with Action Social Advancement (ASA), along with the Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative and WWF-India, to promote regenerative agricultural practices in India.

“WWF is excited to partner with Inditex in our mission to reverse wildlife loss and achieve a nature-positive world by 2030. Nature supports our economies, our societies and our well-being. However, we are losing it at an alarming rate. Like many industries, the clothing and textile sector is highly dependent on nature and biodiversity. However, it also has a big impact. We urgently need action to halt and reverse the loss of nature, including collective and strategic investment in restoring and protecting biodiversity,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

Transformation of the industry

As part of this agreement, WWF and Inditex are entering a year-long exploratory phase with a focus on water management and biodiversity conservation. The analysis includes a map of impacts along Inditex’s value chain and an “assessment of its actions, impacts and progress with a view to identifying priorities and key geographies.” With the results in hand, the two organizations plan to conclude a second agreement, to which a budget will be allocated, to advance the transformation of the sector.

While the collaboration and award of millions of euros is commendable, it does not address the root of the problem – habitat loss and deforestation due to the increasing demands of the fast fashion industry, of which the Inditex brand Zara is not only a part but also a pioneer. Until serious efforts are made to curb production and therefore consumption, such efforts will remain patchwork rather than long-term solutions.

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