The Future of Fashion is Sustainable

-An official UN side event for the High-Level Political Forum 2018 Agenda


Credits: Pictures by Suvi Helko

by Maria J. Rodriguez-Ferreño

On Wednesday, July 11th, we had the opportunity to collaborate with “Hecho por Nosotros” and Animaná" on an official UN High Level Political Forum side event called: Sustainable Fashion and SDGs: Different Contexts, Same Mission”, as part of a series of events for High-Level Political Forum Agenda Global Goals for 2030. For more information about this series of events, please click HERE.

The “Fast Fashion” industry is not only threatening our environment, as it requires industrially large amounts of water just for a few pieces of clothing (pieces that are meant to last not long so the consumer goes out and buys again and again), but also the people in villages and small towns in developing countries whose manual labor is what puts a plate of food on the table for their families. Certainly, this flux of cheap-made clothing donated by developed countries sabotages their survival. Also, at the local level where cheap fashion is worn, it costs a lot of money for the local governments to process these amounts of clothing items that people thrown away daily to the garbage. In fact, less than a third of clothing items gets recycled, everything else ends up at the landfill. For all of these reasons and more, sustainable strategies and mechanisms for not only designing, but also for the “after-consumption” stage of fashion, must be implemented ASAP. This is why we say that the future of fashion is sustainable!

Our event presented the debate on how a transformation in the fashion and textile industry can contribute to a shift towards a more sustainable and resilient society. The discussion was joined by actors from the private and public sector, all supporting and giving visibility to leading sustainability innovations creatively tackling social and environmental issues via the textile industry to inspire how different industries in collaboration with civil society, business and government can transform into a force for good.

The event was an official United Nations (UN) side event, part of the agenda of #HLPF2018, High-Level Political Forum for the Sustainable Global Goals 2030 (SDG’s, an agenda put together by the UN with a series of goals of vital importance for the sustainable future of the generations to come, so that they may enjoy Mother Earth as much as we have enjoyed it). We were thrilled for such an outstanding opportunity.

The panelists were Prof. Steven Cutting from Fashion Institute of Technology, designer Jessica Schreiber from FABSCRAPS, John Meyers from Impact Capital Forum, Maria Ceccarelli from United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Nikita Varma presented Hecho por Nosotros, Hansika Iyer gave an introduction on animaná and Maria J. Rodriguez Ferreno was the representative for The Kota Alliance. The moderator was Patrick Duffy, founder of Global Fashion Exchange (GFX) and activist. To know more about the panelists and/or moderator, please click HERE.

We also had a fantastic audience who was engaged in the conversation and eager to ask questions to further the debate. When we asked some members of the audience for their event highlights, the responses were mostly in regard to recycling , and also about the clothing producers and their responsibility in the “post-consumption” stage of the chain, also known as “extended producer responsibilities”. This feedback tells us people are eager to be informed and learn how they can contribute to alleviate the issue beyond the conversation and the debate. People want to do more and better, but they just do not know how! This is the main reason why it is so important to organize informative events on these vital topics, so everyone can get involved and thus contribute to the SDG’s for 2030.

Additionally, and for the first time ever, we recorded the event  on Facebook Live.  The video can be watched anytime by anyone interested in the topic HERE

Lastly, we want to thank our partner organizations – “Hecho Por Nosotros” & “Animaná” - for their excellent and tireless work on organizing this event, and we certainly look forward to having more opportunities to collaborate!

Kota at HLPF 2018: Unequal Nationality Rights Lead to Statelessness

By Suvi Helko

Can you imagine a situation where you are denied the right to pass your nationality to your children? There are 25 countries worldwide, where this is the reality for the female citizens of the nation. In addition, roughly 50 countries still have laws, which deny women’s equal rights to acquire, change and retain their nationality and to confer nationality to a foreign spouse.

These themes were discussed on Tuesday July 17th, 2018 July when The Kota Alliance participated in a side event of UN Women at the High-Level Political Forum 2018: ‘Realizing Gender-Equal Nationality Rights: Regional Developments and Good Practices’. The panelists were:

  • Moez Laouani – Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Tunisia to the United Nations

  • Maria-Noel Vaeza-Ogilvie, Director of Programme Support Division, UN Women

  • Ninette Kelley, Director of the New York Office, UNHCR

  • Catherine Harrington, Campaign Manager, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights



Gender discrimination in conjunction with national laws is the leading cause of statelessness. Being stateless has major effects in an individual’s life. For example, access to education can be denied. Also, many stateless people end up working illegally with low salary and poor work conditions, because in order to be paid legally, the employer wants to see proof of identification. Furthermore, the ability to travel, open a bank account, get a driver’s license, own or inherit property and get hospital services is at risk. Children of the stateless usually end up stateless too, and a vicious circle is created.

Stateless girls and women are affected in particular. Due to lack of education and poverty, the risk of human trafficking increases for the girls without nationality. Young stateless girls can be forced into child marriage in the hope of obtaining the benefits of a husband with a citizenship.

“These laws are ripping families apart”, states Catherine Herrington during the panel. If the foreign father cannot obtain a citizenship in the country of his wife and children, he is unable to work, and can be forced to leave.

According to Global Campaign for Equal National Rights, the 25 countries that discriminate against mothers in their ability to confer nationality on their children are the following:

The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, Burundi, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Togo and United Arab Emirates.

In the following 52 countries women do not have the ability to confer nationality to spouses and/or acquire, change and retain her nationality:

Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Nauru, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

During the panel discussion, Lebanon was put forward as an example. In Lebanon, men are allowed to pass their nationality automatically to their foreign wives, while Lebanese women are not allowed to pass their nationality to their foreign spouses. Catherine Harrington showed us a heartbreaking video of a Lebanese girl who had dreams about educating herself for a good occupation, but she was denied access to school due to her statelessness. Multiple similar videos can be found on YouTube from different countries where gender-equal nationality laws are not a norm.

However, some progress has been made throughout the past years. Ninette Kelley raises Thailand as an example of a country that has successfully campaigned against statelessness. According to UNHCR, the Thai government seeks to end statelessness by 2024. Also, Tunisia has shown increasing interest towards gender-equal nationality rights and policies, according to Moez Laouani.

In the past 14 years, 15 states have changed their nationality laws to gender-equal. Let’s hope that the trend keeps rising and that by the end of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development we will see many new countries updating their nationality laws to be gender-equal for all.