Olistic the Label, guest of the September 2019 UN Climate Summit in New York

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On September 21st 2019, UN Headquarters in New York hosted the Youth Climate Summit, a much-anticipated event in the run-up to the Climate Action Summit held on September 23rd.

A historic summit against global warming

The Youth Summit is a global platform for all young people committed to fight climate change. Faced with the urgency of global warming, the event highlights the solutions of young leaders and entrepreneurs to the UN and international leaders.

Millions of young environmental activists and activists have responded to the call of the United Nations. Among them, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg delivered a fiery speech at the opening of the summit and strongly denounced the climate inaction of governments. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, wanted to make this summit a concrete event reminding us that “we do not negotiate with nature”. 

Greta Thunberg and António Guterres at the launch of the Youth Climate Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York

On the eve of the Climate Action Summit, Central Park’s legendary Tavern on the Green hosted The Great Green Wall event co-organized by Timberland, the UNCCD and the World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate program. The movement initiated in Africa aims to fight global warming, drought and famine by planting an 8,000 km long line of trees.  

Designer and committed activist Camille Jaillant, founder of Olistic the Label, the first French sustainable luxury fashion house, attended this historic moment. Olistic the Label showed at the United Nations its sustainable collection in wood fibers and peace silk and presented its vision of tomorrow’s fashion alongside its partners.

Meeting at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York

Sustainable fashion: special guest of the United Nations 

The sustainable luxury label shared the stage with Studio 189, a fair trade fashion brand co-founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah who work alongside African artisans and women’s communities. The brand preserves artisanal know-how with low environmental impact such as organic indigo dyeing, manual batik weaving or typical Ghanaian kente weaving. Hand in hand, Camille Jaillant and Abrima Erwiah shared their solutions for an ethical slow fashion initiating a positive socio-environmental impact. 

Doumi san (Woomoon) alongside Abrima Erwiah (Studio 189) and Camille Jaillant (Olistic The Label)

With the support of the United Nations Forest for Fashion Program (UNECE: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), Olistic the Label has unveiled a collection created using wood fibers from eco-managed forests. Its eucalyptus or pine fiber dresses are a gorgeous and sustainable alternative to cotton thanks to crops that require less water and are more respectful of the soil and biodiversity. 

A more respectful approach to forests and their ecosystems is a necessity, given that since 1990, nearly 420 million hectares of forests have been lost due to their conversion to other uses (UN report of May 2020 for the FAO).

Historical partners and new alliances alongside Olistic the Label

The Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) is a program of the International Trade Centre (ITC) founded by Simone Cipriani. This joint agency aims to accelerate the development and competitiveness of businesses in developing countries. EFI’s main objective is to connect disadvantaged communities of artisans and women with fashion brands. Launched in Kenya, the program has since expanded to 9 countries and is contributing to poverty and inequalities reduction. The access of craftsmen to the international market is framed by a code of conduct and the impact of the program is monitored to ensure the protection of workers and the environment in full transparency and traceability. Among the many partners of the Ethical Fashion Initiative are small designers as well as major eco responsible fashion labels such as Stella McCartney or Vivienne Westwood.

ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative

The Alliance for Sustainable Fashion created by the United Nations is a coalition of institutions, industries and companies committed to fashion that respects human beings and the environment. Olistic the Label was one of the actors invited to the launch of the Alliance in Nairobi in March 2019. Through this initiative, the UN intends to take a leading position in the development of green fashion in line with the 17 objectives of its 2030 agenda.

In his speech, Antonio Guterres confirmed the importance of women’s leadership for its singular ability to “promote solutions”. Autonomy and support for female employment are causes dear to Camille Jaillant; Olistic the Label promotes the creation of fair jobs for Indian women through the support of a sericulture and is committed to the preservation of traditional know-how.

Asserted commitments as required by a strongly mobilized youth 

Youth representatives stressed the urgency of greater leadership mobilization and expressed their determination to hold leaders accountable. 

In New York, private businesses and governments sealed a strong pact for a greener economy: 77 countries committed to eliminating their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

At the end of this highly emotional week, and despite an optimistic message in line with the Paris Agreements, the new generation of activists and creators issued a clear warning: “we will remain vigilant”.

Young activists march as part of the Global Climate Strike of the movement Fridays for Future, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The unprecedented crisis currently experienced by our states reinforces the need for collective action. The health of populations is intrinsically linked to the health of our ecosystems. The impetus given to environmental mobilization by the youth summit is more than necessary. Yet, it remains to be seen what impact the exit from the COVID19 health crisis will have on the unprecedented commitments sealed in New York last September.