Press releases

Centralizing profiles of sustainable small businesses in the textile industry: COP28

8 December 2023
ITC News

(Dubai/Geneva) - Six major sustainability standard organizations in the textile and garment sector are partnering with the UN small business agency, the International Trade Centre (ITC), to share the sustainability credentials of small businesses worldwide through the UN Certified Business Registry, to make it easier for small businesses to sell in new markets. 

Announced on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the UN Certified Business Registry will display the sustainability credentials of small businesses, enabling buyers to easily identify suppliers with sustainability credentials or validate the sustainability claims of existing suppliers. 

To date, sustainability standards maintain separate public registries of certified businesses, leading to a fragmented standards landscape that can make it difficult for small businesses to access markets.  

Connecting sustainable suppliers with buyers

The collaborating organizations — Better Cotton, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), OEKO-TEX, Textile Exchange, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) — have responded to ITC's Uniting Sustainable Actions initiative, launched by ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton during the UN General Assembly in September 2023. Following the launch, 70 brands, representing over 70% of the French textiles and garments sector, have joined the call to action and have committed to validating the sustainability credentials of their suppliers using the UN Certified Business Registry.  

Better Cotton, GOTS and Textile Exchange are already sharing sustainability credentials and the other three organizations will follow in early 2024. The information is accessible through the ITC Standards Map, the largest online repository of over 330 sustainability standards and initiatives.  

Rooted in the commitment to using sustainability standards to empower small businesses, this initiative is set to expand to include other sustainability initiatives and sectors, to improve small business visibility and market access. 

Building on partnerships

This collaboration is part of the ITC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) joint programme on Transparency and Traceability in the Textile and Garment sector, funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships. UNECE brings recommendations, best practices and guidelines for garment and footwear makers to support sustainable and circular consumption and production patterns, developed and implemented through consultation with hundreds of industry insiders and experts. 

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: ‘Pooling data on sustainability standards and on small businesses working to align to those standards is a big step towards making the low-carbon transition a just and inclusive one.’  

Claudia Kersten, Managing Director of GOTS, added: ‘We welcome this collaboration. The neutral umbrella of ITC and UNECE is exactly the right place for this collective effort to drive change in a credible way.’  

Alia Malik, Better Cotton’s Senior Director for Data and Traceability, said: ‘As COP28 gets underway, this commitment to showcasing businesses that source more sustainable materials is another positive step towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.’ 

Carolin Franitza, Stakeholder Manager of OEKO-TEX, said: ‘Collaborative efforts will drive a positive impact, fostering increased transparency, ethical business practices and responsible decision-making." 

Notes for the editor:
About the International Trade Centre
- The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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Media contact

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre
E: pak [at]
T: +41 22 730 0651
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