IVN Green Forum: ethics in the textile industry

Solaranlage auf dem Frankfurter Messegelände

Solar collector at Messe Frankfurt's fair ground

When moral lapses recently cost former Federal President Christian Wulff his job, it became clear that people apply more stringent standards in such situations than they do in the case of Joe Public. It may well be the same with companies, who have signed their businesses up to ecological or fair-trade movements; credibility, it seems, is very quickly lost. In line with the principle that “prevention is better than cure”, the Green Forum of the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry (IVN), held on 22 May 2012 in Düsseldorf, was entitled “Ethics in the textile industry”. And Messe Frankfurt, too, had an important contribution to make.

Olaf Schmidt, Vice-President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt, gave examples of Messe Frankfurt’s long-term commitment and sketched out some strategic thoughts with reference to fashion fairs. “For Messe Frankfurt, sustainability is absolutely central to responsible company policy. The efficient use of resources is a key feature of environmental CSR initiatives,” explained Olaf Schmidt. In particular, the exemplary management of energy and recyclable materials represents a major element in the sustainable business practices of the world’s second largest trade-fair company. Messe Frankfurt is the first fair and exhibition organiser to pick up on green topics at its worldwide textile fairs such as Heimtextil – consistently, systematically and with the help of its international partners. With the Ethical Fashion Show and the GREENshowroom the company actively supports sustainable production in the fashion industry and offers green fashion labels a dedicated platform.

The topic of “Ethics in the textile industry” was fleshed out in seven further lectures, including, for instance, the ‘quick test’ presented by Dr. Daniel Dietzfelbinger from the Institut Persönlichkeit + Ethik (Institute of Personality and Ethics). With three basic questions, he claimed, you can determine whether a decision is ethically acceptable or not. “Firstly: Can I still face myself in the mirror? Secondly: Can I still face my boss? Thirdly and, indeed, most importantly: Can I defend the decision in the public arena? Dietmar Kokott from the Wittenberg Zentrum für globale Ethik (Wittenberg Centre for Global Ethics), spoke on “A model for responsible business dealings,” a declaration of self-regulation which numerous top managers have already signed up to (more details at: www.verantwortlich-handeln.com). Other theoretical underpinnings were furnished by Hubert Kögler, Partner of the Business Consultants, Amphion Unternehmensberatung; Dr. Mark Starmanns from the Geographical Institute of the University of Zurich and the Netzwerk Faire Mode (Fair Fashion Network); Christoph Harrach from Karmakonsum and Dr. Michael Hartmann from the Protestant Academy Berlin. Felix Rauer from the Otto Group then offered examples based on his practical experience. The proceedings were chaired by Fredericke Winkler of Beyond Berlin.

Further information on the IVN’s Green Forum can be found at: www.green-forum.de.

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