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  • Nina Stevenson

Nature-based solutions in and through fashion have never been so necessary

Image credits: Photographer - Mickey Wong Designer - Anustha Kishor

It is a firmly-held belief at Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) that access to research-led knowledge and practice in fashion and sustainability should be free and equitable. Developing online learning has been a key activity for the education team over the past few years, first with the launch of Fashion & Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World (with more than 70,000 learners worldwide), and now with Fashion Values: Nature, starting on 12 April 2021 on FutureLearn.

What will we do for nature?

This 4-week course is free to access to all, bringing together a diverse range of experiences and opinions to explore the question, what will we do for nature? It has been designed to empower anyone with the tools to address the challenges facing fashion sustainability today. The course welcomes all levels including advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, educators, sustainability professionals, as well as fashion and business professionals, designers, strategists, and communicators.

Fashion Values: Nature is the first of four brand new courses to be launched through 2021 and has been conceived and developed by CSF’s education team – Prof. Dilys Williams, Nina Stevenson, Lou Budd,Liz Parker and Kae Katz. Contributing experts include Prof. Kate Fletcher, Prof. Lynda Grose, Deepa Patel, Eduardo Escobedo, Dr. Helen Crowley, Dr. Katrina Ole-MoiYoi and Dr. Francesco Mazzarella.

It is our hope that through this course and the wider Fashion Values programme, together we will connect and find space to nurture a multiplicity of diverse responses to how fashion can restore and regenerate nature, whilst transforming its practices.

Fashion, Biosphere and Biodiversity

An extract from Week 2 of Fashion Values: Nature...

When we talk about biodiversity - or the plants and animals that are affected by fashion - our attention is placed on the specific plant or animal. But these plants and animals exist in a complex web of life. Recognising the interconnectedness of these systems enables us to think about how to change practices to adjust the systems that underpin life. Climate change is an example of the outcome of a disrupted system. In a similar way, the impact of human activities on soil, water and land all have cumulative effects and consequences. For example, if we can nurture soil through agricultural practices associated with fashion, so that it becomes a carbon sink or enhances the microbial and insect life, this has beneficial - or regenerative - effects on nature’s systems. Through this, biodiversity can be enhanced.

As individuals and collectives, we have the ingenuity and the skills to create and invest in fashion practices that interrupt this downward spiral to climate catastrophe. There are examples of fashion activities that not only eliminate harmful practices but contribute to the regeneration of our soil, water and air. This requires a radical redesign of fashion. It requires us to understand the ways in which fashion must connect and collaborate with experts in other disciplines such as science, agriculture and conservation. Informed decision making and critical thinking are essential skills for us to develop, alongside the ability to nurture a mindset of ecological thinking.

“Let’s be clear: human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help solve it. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.” UN Secretary General

In a recent speech, the UN Secretary General outlined that the world has not met any of the global biodiversity targets set for 2020. More ambition and greater commitment to deliver on measurable targets and means of implementation are needed.

This means:

  • More and bigger effectively managed conservation areas, so that our assault on species and ecosystems can be halted.

  • Biodiversity-positive agriculture and fisheries, reducing our overexploitation and destruction of the natural world.

  • Phasing out negative subsidies - the subsidies that destroy healthy soils, pollute our waterways and lead us to fish our oceans empty.

  • A shift from unsustainable and nature-negative extractive resource mining, and to broader sustainable consumption patterns.

Nature-based solutions in and through fashion have never been so necessary if we are to meet our earth’s needs and achieve climate stability.

More information on Fashion Values: Nature


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