Global sustainability strategy
The sustainability challenges we face as a company are not unique to us - or to our sector. As business and economic priorities increasingly recognize the need to build shared and sustainable prosperity, businesses, governments, multi-national institutions, and civil society are coming together under common frameworks to drive positive change.
In 2015, we became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) - a set of universal principles addressing human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption for business. See the GRI Index for a summary of our progress in these important areas.
We also welcome the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all UN member states in September 2015. The goals provide a framework and guide for advancing sustainability towards 2030. In the coming year, we will develop our approach to contributing to the SDGs in our operations, innovations, and partnerships. Six of the SDGs are especially relevant to our business, and some of the programmes we already have in place will help to advance these goals.
The following six SDGs are particularly relevant to our business, our impacts, and the contributions we can make. We will be working over the coming years to develop our approach to these goals:
The work we’re doing to create fashion with a positive impact contributes to these SDGs in many ways. With partners around the world, we’re driving meaningful change in our own business and in the broader apparel industry. One of our key partners, C&A Foundation, also complements our efforts in many of these areas. C&A Foundation works across the entire apparel value chain to bring about systemic change in the industry and generate long-term solutions.
Goal 5 states that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but the basis for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. When women are educated, healthy, and economically empowered, families and communities thrive. At C&A, our business is focused on our customer - HER - and women are the driving force of our customer focus. Just as the majority of our customers and employees are women, so are most of the people making our clothes. We are working to empower women and achieve gender equality across the supply chain, from raw materials to manufacturing in production units.
With the Water Footprint Network and funding from C&A Foundation, we’ve undertaken a large-scale water footprint study. We’ll use this when we develop the C&A water strategy, including supporting farmers in reducing the water used for cotton agriculture.
The apparel industry has an important role to play in providing quality jobs and stimulating economic growth. We work with our production units to further increase the quality of jobs in our sector everywhere we operate, and therefore ensuring labour rights and safe and secure working conditions are central to our sustainable supply chain auditing and capacity-building programmes. We also create jobs in the communities where we have C&A stores and offices.
Goal 12 states that sustainable consumption and production aims at ‘doing more and better with less’. This principle is at the heart of our global sustainability strategy, from our work on clean environment in the supply chain to our circular economy commitment.
We're working to reduce our carbon emissions across the value chain. We recently conducted our first full global carbon footprint analysis to understand the impacts at each stage of our value chain and will be developing a new climate change strategy.
This goal recognizes that a successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society. At C&A, collaboration and partnerships are central to our approach. We participate in multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources in support of the SDGs. In 2016, we will build on our stakeholder engagement strategy to identify additional partnerships that support this work.
Collaboration and convenings are core to the work of C&A Foundation, who regularly bring people together for a more effective collective impact. Examples include: