Cittadellarte and UN Sustainable Fashion Initiatives
On 1st March, Cittadellarte’s director Paolo Naldini spoke at the event "Fashion and the SDGs: what role for the UN?", in the context of the "Regional Forum 2018" – organized by UNECE – in programme at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Here is his contribution.

Dear Executive President, Mrs Deda, panelists and stakeholders,

thank you for inviting us to this conference and apologies for not being there in person this afternoon*, I did drive up to Mont Blanc this morning but then got stuck in the traffic queue at the feet of the mountain, so when time had got so late that I would not make it anyway to Geneva, I had to go back to my office in Biella, halfway between Turin and Milan under an increasingly clear sky, just to remind me once more of who really rules over us, after all, I mean, the weather of course.

Let me go straight into commenting the slides that my kind collaborator Olga Pirazzi is scrolling:

1) I run a contemporary art foundation in Italy whose goal is bridging the potential art has to inspire and instigate insights and paradigm-shifts with the most urgent global challenges we face in every realm of human activity. This resorting to radical creativity is represented by a symbol that connects 2 distinct or even opposite elements/circles by the creation of another element, a central circle stemming from the balance between what existed before. This third circle exists as an outcome of this act of acknowledging conflict but producing ways to go beyond that. This is a founding paradigm enabling a path for reconciliation and sustainable development, as one can immediately see how the opposition nature/artifice applies to this approach; or innovation/conservation, or me/the other.

My organization, Cittadellarte, brings this attitude in all fields and contexts; so we did on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of UN, when we placed a sculpture in the shape of this sign – we call the Rebirth sign or the Third Paradise sign (where the first paradise is nature, the second is artifice and technology, the third being the one that can balance the 2 nowadays conflicting ones) – made of stones donated and representing all member countries of UN in Ariana Park, probably quite deep in snow by now…
Also we had the opportunity to collaborate with UNECE and Fashion for Forests initiative, led by Paola Deda and Maria Teresa Pisani, where we resorted to fashion’s symbolic power to advocate for sustainable management of forests, by co-organizing a conference, a ballet performance displaying fashion collections created under the sustainability imperative by emerging fashion designers and a performance in public space in Geneve city centre with schools.

2) Similarly we then brought the symbol to Milan’s main square, Piazza Duomo, together with the most powerful fashion brands association, National Chamber of Fashion, associating all the main brands worldwide famous; the symbol was taken as the logo for their initiative on sustainable fashion, where these brands declare and agree to engage into a sustainability path whose basis is transparency and traceability of the whole supply chain; this is an extremely engaging objective whose initial steps have been achieved already, although so much has to go yet.

3) A major achievement has been the publication and distribution among the over 200 associates of the National Chamber of Fashion of the Handbook of Guidelines on eco-toxicological requirements for articles of clothing, leather goods footwear and accessories.
Also I am honored to be part of a UN initiative, an important multi-stakeholder initiative on transparency and traceability of textile value chains: Textile4SDG12, led by UNECE, the Trade Facilitation Section: whose main vision is that for the fashion industry to really go sustainable, consumers and businesses must first be aware of the nature and magnitude of the environmental, health and social risks and impacts along the textile value chain: therefore transparency and traceability have to become a priority for responsible business in the sector.

4) Finally, I will briefly answer that we need more formal endorsement and access to the intelligence, the knowledge and the network resources UN hugely own; when we instigate what we call Demopraxy and Rebirth Forums around the world, we bring together about a 100 stakeholders from governmental to non governmental organizations with local players, of very different fields: we place, as you can see in this picture in a theatre in Havana, where we have had an ongoing platform for 4 years, we place the SDGs as our framework: the more we could share knowledge and network with UN central and local offices, the more impact we could have, together.

Thank you very much for your attention and I hope to have the chance one summer day, or at least on a less stormy one, to be with you all in person…

*Paolo Naldini spoke over the phone, due to bad weather conditions

More info (event “Fashion and the SDGs: what role for the UN?”): here.