In 2018, a report on UN’s SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, stated that “the world is not on track to achieve the global SDG 6 targets by 2030 at the current rate of progress”. Today, fresh water is increasingly scarce with 2.3 billion people lacking basic sanitation services, and at the same time, we see an increase in worldwide water pollution.
Since we are part of a water-intense industry, we are committed to pushing harder for action and progress, in our value chain and beyond, and to protect the communities situated close to the supplier’s factories.
In fact, H&M Group has been working actively to reduce negative water impacts throughout its value chain for more than ten years. Each and every one of the suppliers we buy from is, of course, obliged to comply with our Sustainability Commitment, and we require full compliance with the existing laws and regulations. Our Production Offices and presence in the markets we source from gives us the unique opportunity to have daily contact with our suppliers, make frequent visits to the suppliers and follow how the production proceeds.
Joint action with WWF — Pioneering Water Stewardship for the Fashion Industry
But the biggest challenges we face today are not specific to H&M Group — these are issues on industry level, and the most effective solutions can’t be reached by us alone. That’s one of the reasons we’ve teamed up with a number of organisations, WWF, Solidaridad and the Swedish Textile Water Initiative, to name a few. Together, we want to set a new standard across the entire fashion industry. Fashion brands may compete in business, but need to collaborate for a sustainable future on water. No single company that can solve the water challenge alone.
“Transforming the textile industry’s water management to reduce pollution is a critical part of WWF’s work to conserve freshwater resources. Our global partnership with H&M has led the way by improving H&M Group’s water management and encouraging other companies, NGOs and policymakers to collectively engage on water issues on a global level.”
Stuart Orr, Leader Freshwater Practice, WWF International
During World Water Week in 2018, H&M Group called for action from the textile and apparel industry to join forces with stakeholders, governments, development partners, wider industry and water users to find solutions to today’s water-related challenge in basins where we are operating.
”When H&M and WWF are working together, we can create more impact. Our aim is to make a change and be a leading example for the whole industry.”
Cecilia Brännsten, Head of Environmental Sustainability, H&M Group.
United in a common vision for better availability and quality of freshwater, H&M Group initiated a long-term partnership with WWF in 2011. Our goal is to become a leading water steward within the fashion industry and with the help of WWF, we have developed a 5-step water stewardship strategy to make it happen.
Water Roadmap for Supply Chain
In 2018, we launched our new water roadmap for our supply chain as a part of the transformation of the textile industry, with key goals and actions up until 2022. It addresses the water-related challenges we face around the world, in a way that puts our industry on the path to SDG6, to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
The roadmap represents a paradigm-shifting move towards integrated water management that values water as a shared resource. For example, one goal is to recycle 15 % of wastewater back into the production processes by 2022, and we have started to use five new water recycling solutions for textile and apparel production processes, which will improve the quality and create opportunities for water recycling in many of our production countries.
You’ll find more information on the collaboration with the WWF in the report on the bottom of the page, and you can always read up on H&M Group’s efforts and KPI’s in our annual sustainability report.
Some results from our work with WWF:
- Water and chemical management standards were improved at over 500 suppliers in our value chain.
- Our cleaner production program trained over 2500 workers in production countries such as China, India and Indonesia.
- In China, the partnership supported a project to encourage farmers to use less chemicals in a more sustainable agriculture to restore the health of the Yangtze river and help saving the critically endagered finless purpose.