Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life on our planet. These species and organisms work together to support everything we need to survive, and to build a resilient business. But fashion impacts biodiversity at every stage of its value chain.
Why we work with biodiversity and nature
Biodiversity loss is recognised as one of the biggest challenges of our time and wildlife populations have declined by 68% in the last 45 years. Immediate action is needed to reverse this trend.
The link between biodiversity, nature and business is well established. According to the World Economic Forum, biodiversity loss is the third biggest risk businesses face. At H&M Group, every stage of our value change affects the natural planet and the biggest impact comes from sourcing raw materials. Virgin cotton needs a lot of water and land to grow. Cellulosic materials like viscose are made from wood and could contribute to deforestation. And, materials such as wool or leather can cause land to be converted from agriculture or forests to grazing pastures, While we are dependent on biodiversity to build a successful business.
Our work in other areas is already helping biodiversity and nature. By working towards becoming more circular and our goal for all of our materials to be recycled or more sustainably sourced by 2030, we are reducing our reliance on natural resources and raw materials. Our chemical and water goals are helping to protect and restore habitats and species. While, climate and biodiversity are interdependent. Decreasing our carbon emissions and reaching net-zero will protect nature, while improving biodiversity will help regulate climate.
However, this is not enough. We need to take greater responsibility and set a more strategic approach that specifically targets biodiversity and nature.
At H&M Group, our ambition is to have a net positive impact on biodiversity by:
- Working to prevent and reduce our overall impact on the biodiversity and natural ecosystems touched by our value chain.
- Supporting the protection and restoration of biodiversity and natural ecosystems in line with scientific advice.
We are mapping our full value chain using the method set out by the Science Based Targets Network and will use the findings to set targets.
Our goals will follow a framework called ARRRT that sets actions in a priority order:
Increasing the recycled content of our products help reduce the impact on biodiversity associated with sourcing virgin materials.
3. Restore & regenerate
Regenerative agriculture and conservation projects help to restore natural habitats and increase the resilience of nature.
Through collaborating with others, we bring about transformation change to the fashion industry.
Our biodiversity and nature projects
We are investing in projects connected to the parts of our value chain where we have the biggest environmental impact – raw materials. Regenerative agriculture increases soil fertility, biodiversity and nature, soil carbon sequestration, water retention and cleanliness, as well as contributing to community resilience and livelihoods.
Working with WWF, we are engaging communal smallholders and large commercial sheep farmers in South Africa’s newest National Park to work towards regenerative wool production to improve biodiversity and social development. (Image credit © Peter Chadwick / WWF)
Alongside WWF, we are supporting smallholder cotton farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices to improve soil and pollinator biodiversity and help farmers build sustainable incomes. Based in the Satpura-Pench wildlife corridor in central India, the project also aims protect essential wildlife corridors for vulnerable species such as tigers, leopards and sloth bears. (Image credit © Ola Jennersten / WWF)
We have signed the first agreements in a landscape scale regenerative agriculture project in India. Working across different crop types is essential to scale regeneration practices and increase impact. Founded by the Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative and WWF India, the project brings together government, brands from several sectors, farmers and civil society.
To encourage more farmers to adopt regenerative cotton agriculture, we held a workshop in May 2022 for organisations working with farms in countries like India, Pakistan, Turkey and Australia. The event gave participants a vital platform to discuss barriers and share best practice.
A collaborative effort
Halting and reversing the decline in biodiversity and nature needs a collaborative approach. Working with partners and through cross-collaboration partners will accelerate change. Here are some of the organisations we work with and how we are taking action together:
- We have worked with WWF for over a decade, collaborating to understand and reduce our impact on water, climate and biodiversity.
- We have mapped the biodiversity impacts of our leather supply chain in Argentine through Transforming the Fashion Sector project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and in partnership with Conservation International.
- We tested Textile Exchange’s biodiversity benchmark module, which is now integrated into their Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark.
- Through Business for Nature we engage government leaders to adopt the policies needed to protect biodiversity.
- Through our commitment to the Fashion Pact we are contributing to positive impact beyond our own business.
- As members of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures Forum we are part of a community sharing knowledge on nature-related risk management and disclosure.
- We continue to support the science-policy interface for biodiversity through the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
- We contributed to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation study on how the circular economy can tackle biodiversity loss.