Mongolia’s Response to Fast Fashion: Sustainable Cashmere

goats roaming in Mongolia

Unlike other materials, cashmere is a fine, natural fibre that decomposes easily. Nonetheless, its production comes with significant social and environmental impacts. Carbon emissions from livestock, overgrazing, deforestation, lack of supply chain transparency, and poor working conditions of goat herders are some of the major issues.

STeP EcoLab project is supporting the Mongolian wool and cashmere sector to make the difference: achieve a strong sustainability profile and better recognition in the global textile market.

Through an online workshop held in August 2020, the project STeP EcoLab introduced European consumers’ demands and trends for fair fashion, animal welfare and sustainable production to a team of Mongolian experts. The workshop was a first step towards enhancing Mongolia’s access to EU and global markets.

The local experts had been previously selected by the project team to support the implementation of sustainability measures in the Mongolian wool and cashmere sector and multiply the knowledge to the rest of the textile industry. They will do so by helping Mongolian companies to comply with key requirements of the globally recognised and most relevant sustainability standards in preparation for eco-certification in the near future.

The two-day interactive workshop focused on sustainability management methods, sustainability as a business case, European eco-certification standards, communication strategies, and best practice sharing. A highlight of the training was the ‘persona session’, during which the participants had a chance to talk to fictitious clients and try to understand their needs and requirements.

As a next step, the team of the Mongolian experts will support the development and implementation of a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCP) among the Mongolian wool and cashmere companies. Externally, the VCP will act as a signalling instrument towards customers and targeted markets until complete sustainability certification is achieved. In addition, VCP members will reduce the environmental and social impact of wool and cashmere production and increase competitiveness of this sector.

The STeP EcoLab is a four-year project funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Asia II Programme. The project is implemented by the Mongolian branch of ‘Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF Mongolia)’ in partnership with the CSCP, the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association (MWCA), the Environment and Security Center of Mongolia (ESCM), the National Federation of Pasture Users Group (NFPUG) and the Mongolian Bankers’ Association (MBA). The project lasts four years and is funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Asia II Programme.