WWF and H&M have entered into a three-year partnership to develop a global water strategy that will be implemented across the fashion retailer’s 48 national markets and 750 direct suppliers.
During 2012, WWF and H&M performed a comprehensive evaluation of all H&M’s efforts and challenges in connection with water. This forms the basis of the new strategy, which the organizations say they will implement this year.
H&M designers and buyers will receive additional training about wet processes and how raw material production affects water, and take other measures to improve internal water efficiency. The company says it will measure water impacts across all of its operations and supply chain.
H&M will initially work with the 190 suppliers manufacturing the majority of its products to improve their water stewardship practices, the company says.
Both organizations will continue working with the Better Cotton Initiative to reduce water and pesticide use during the cotton growing process.
Also, WWF and H&M will work in collaboration with public policy makers, NGOs, water institutions and other companies to support better management of the Yangtze river basin in China and Brahmaputra river basin in Bangladesh.
Currently, 2.7 billion people — about 40 percent of the world’s population — live in river basins that experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year, according to WWF’s 2012 Living Planet Report. About a third of the facilities that perform wet processes for H&M are located in areas that WWF says are now, or will be by 2025, considered extremely water-scarce.
In June 2012, H&M was among the 45 international companies that agreed to set targets on their water efficiency and wastewater management in factories and operations, and called on governments attending the Rio+20 Earth Summit to make global water security a top priority.
The majority — 60 percent — of the world’s 250 largest companies lack a long-term water strategy, according to a KPMG analysis of corporate responsibility reports published in October 2012.