As climate change continues to pick up pace, Polman said sustainability in fashion needs to be addressed – and urgently.

“Frankly, we don’t have a choice,” he said, warning that climate change is now progressing quicker than expected so the need for change is even more urgent. He added that fashion was at particular risk thanks to its global nature and reliance on natural resources.

Polman said that most “CSR” initiatives are no longer fit for purpose and were often focused only on mitigating damage rather than delivering real change. “Less bad is simply not good enough anymore,” he told delegates.

Too many companies are still setting unsupported targets and failing to take responsibility for their environmental impact, Polman warned. He said this was despite it now being clear what changes need to be made.

“Good for fashion, bad for the planet is not an option anymore,” Polman stated.

He added that the success of the fashion industry in this will really come down to one simple decision: “Do you care?”

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After two days of talks and seminars, many of which were themed around sustainability targets and labour rights, the fashion sector has more than enough information to make a significant impact.

But will delegates take action, or simply return home from Copenhagen and continue with business as usual? As Polman warned, we really are running out of time.

He added: “I do hope we’ll be able to say that at this pivotal moment, when everything was on the line, when the fate of humanity was at stake, that the fashion industry decided to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

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