UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Committee Overview:

Following World War II, the rapid decolonization of colonial empires led to a swell of brand-new countries that were welcomed to the United Nations. Furthermore, the growing rivalry between the two Cold War powers and the high cost of allying with either led to establishing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Many of the states that were part of the NAM were newly independent and still developing post-colonial countries. This group of developing countries then moved to establish the Conference on Problems for Developing Countries, held in Cairo in 1962. At this conference, they called for an “international conference within the framework of the UN on all vital questions related to international trade, primary commodity trade and economic relations between developing and developed countries.” The consensus reached at this conference resulted in the first meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1964.

Topic: Sustainability in the Fast Fashion Industry

Fast fashion brands are notorious for producing on-trend garments at low prices with a quick production time. With the market valued at USD 36 billion in 2019, it is projected that it will continue to grow up to USD 43 billion by 2029. As fast fashion grows in popularity and brands continue to emerge, there have been questions raised about the ethical and sustainable practices of the industry. This has resulted in brands being pressured into being more transparent with consumers about the production of their clothes—more specifically, how their clothes are being made, the environmental impact of their products, and workers’ rights. With an estimated 60-million person workforce, garment workers are at the forefront of these fast fashion companies, but the conditions in which they are treated are often hidden. Garment workers are often underpaid and cannot support themselves or their families. With such low wages and long hours, it forces many into a cycle of poverty with no opportunity for upward mobility. The fast fashion industry alone contributes to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of global wastewater. As fast fashion grows in popularity, it is necessary to promote sustainability in all aspects of this industry and make sure there is increased transparency in every step of production. The impacts of the fast fashion industry have reached far beyond the environment. It also affects local communities, trade, and the ability for communities to develop equitably. Therefore, it is vital to find solutions that effectively promote sustainability in the fashion industry.