The ‘4th Sustainability Talks Istanbul’ event, which was held to raise awareness on sustainability in the textile and fashion industry and to take solution-oriented steps, was organised with the strategic partnership of Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters’ Association (İTHİB) and in cooperation with Orbit Consulting – Kipaş Holding.
Ahmet Öksüz, Chairman of the Board of Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters’ Association (İTHİB), made the opening speech and IKEA Sustainable Business Manager Calvin Woolley, Kara Holding Vice President İbrahim Kara, Karacasu Board Member Burak Orhan Arifioğlu and Fashion for Good Asia Region and Supplier Relations Head Priyanka Khanna took part as speakers. Mert Fırat, the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), hosted the ‘SustainTech Istanbul’ sessions for the first time this year. In the event, new initiatives that offer innovative, transformative sustainability solutions in areas that touch textiles and fashion met with brands and investors in the sector.
“We Became the ‘Firsts’ Sector in Sustainability”
Ahmet Öksüz pointed out that making the sector more sustainable and protecting the world is the common responsibility of everyone, not only the producers, and said, “It is of great importance to minimise environmental impacts in production, to turn to renewable and recyclable resources, and to adopt methods to reduce water consumption, energy use and waste production. In addition to these, increasing the durability of products, preventing excessive resource consumption, designing products by considering recycling possibilities after the end of their life cycle and raising awareness of consumers are just some of the things we can do. As İTHİB, we believe that we have carried out our duties properly in addition to our ‘Sustainability Talks’ programme. We proved this by receiving an award with the ‘Textile Sector Sustainability Vision Project’ in the ‘Sustainable Business Awards 2023 Competition’. As it is known, we were the first sector to announce its sustainability action plan. In order to increase the competencies of our sector within the scope of sustainability, we published the ‘Textile Sector Sustainability Guide’ by achieving a first again. Again, within the scope of our action plan, we implemented the Development of International Competitiveness Development, ISTKA, IPA III ‘Monitoring and Reducing Carbon Footprint’ projects.”
“We Need to Make Sustainability ‘Sustainable'”
Ahmet Öksüz stated that the textile sector was negatively affected by agenda items such as ‘audit fatigue’, ‘green washing’ and ‘energy crisis’ in the sustainability journey, which was started with great sensitivity, and continued his words as follows: “But this responsibility is not only the responsibility of the manufacturer, but also of the designer, global brands and even consumers. Each brand has its own audits as well as more than 40 social compliance and environmental audit processes and certificates. Green washing not only misleads consumers, but also forces us producers to face unfair competition. Unfortunately, the energy crisis is a common problem of our entire neighbourhood. According to KPMG’s 2022 Global Energy Sector CEO Survey; only 9 per cent of CEOs think that climate change is the most critical risk. In the 2021 version of the same research, this rate was 35 per cent. In order to ensure the continuity of sustainable development goals, we need much more comprehensive, mutually understanding, solution-oriented collaborations. In short, we need to make ‘sustainability sustainable’.”