World Environment Day – Reflecting on a Year Full of Promises



2020: a year full of promises

2020 was set to be a promising year – or rather a year full of promises. Environmental commitments, pledges and contributions have been made by the international community and 2020 is a milestone for most of them.

Climate Promises

Signatories to the Paris Agreement are supposed to renew their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) this year and raise their ambition compared to previous commitments. However, even before the COVID-19 crisis, seven countries (including major emitters) had already said they would not resubmit more ambitious NDCs. The current contributions are leading to a 2.5 to 2.8°C increase, far from the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement. The renewed NDCs will have to be much more ambitious.

Biodiversity Promises

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets aim to reduce by half the natural habitat loss by 2020. These targets are unlikely to be achieved. The next Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) planned in China in September was to agree on a post-2020 framework on biodiversity, which would have the same ambition as the Paris Agreement. The Convention has now been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, making the goal to deliver a legally binding framework more difficult.

Deforestation Promises

The New York Declaration, signed by 200 signatories, strives to halve deforestation by 2020 but deforestation is still progressing at an alarming pace. According to the 2020 edition of The State of the World's Forests, produced by the FAO and UNEP, global forest area decreased from 32.5% to 30.8%, and some 420 million hectares of forest have been lost to agriculture and other land uses since 1990.

Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, 2020 celebrates the five-year anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and launches the Decade of Action. After five years of reflecting on how to achieve the SDGs, now is time to progress towards the goals.

2020: Entering the Decade of Action

The time for making commitments has passed. 2020 is the year when we need to deliver. The positive sign is that it seems that political will is finally becoming stronger. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed last year to, "Work together for a green and better future for all.”

In the EU, the European Green Deal has brought sustainability to the heart of the political agenda and concrete actions are being rolled-out, as confirmed by the EU’s green recovery plan. Despite COVID-19, the momentum on environmental policies is here to stay.

It can even be argued that rather than slowing momentum, COVID-19 has raised the stakes by showing the world what is possible if effective actions are taken to manage human activities that contribute to climate change and degradation of the environment. The focus on the EU’s recovery plan is on the circular economy, which not only provides the keys towards a climate neutral society but is also the source of innovation and job creation.

Businesses are also taking a proactive role for the environment: investing away from fossil fuels, reducing their carbon footprint and exercising due diligence in their supply chains. Companies are starting to take more responsibility towards shaping a green future by implementing high social and environmental standards throughout their supply chains. Those who haven’t already taken on this sustainability role will soon be legally obliged to do so by many governments.

Make 2020 the Year of Pivotal Change from Promise to Action

amfori is committed to assisting businesses with all these promises. By joining amfori BEPI, companies get access to relevant training for themselves and producers in their supply chain as well as tools such as a carbon calculator, chemical management audits for textiles and a timber programme.

In 2020, amfori adopted the goal of addressing climate change as one of its long-term priorities. Foreseen objectives under this goal this year include:

1) contributing to a reduction of the fashion industry’s impact on climate change by, amongst others, committing to the UNFCCC Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and supporting the broadening of its membership amongst businesses

2) ensuring that BEPI will better support its members towards their CO2 emissions reduction targets by extending the range of countries where BEPI Energy management workshops are available and expanding the tools BEPI offers to support CO2 reductions

amfori takes part in discussions on the policies of tomorrow. Whether it is by participating in dialogue at EU level on Environmental and Human Rights Due Diligence or by implementing our commitments taken through the UNFCCC climate charter, amfori bridges the gap between high-level, ambitious international promises and concrete action on the ground.

To learn more about what amfori will be doing in the Decade of Action, join us in the following webinars: