The major themes through-out the 2019 IWTO Congress held in Venice, Italy on 9th to 11th April were sustainability, traceability, animal welfare and supply chain transparency. These themes were mentioned in virtually every session, from the opening session, through the market intelligence session, the retail session, the wool interiors session to the final session at Benetton.
The Congress’ opening session on Tuesday featured Livia Firth, the founder and creative director of Eco-Age, an advocacy and sustainability consultancy with growing influence around the world. Livia talked about the importance of telling the world’s consumers the wool industry’s message about sustainability and care and welfare of sheep. This was reinforced in the Sustainability session on Wednesday featuring Harriet Vocking, the Chief Brand Officer at Eco-Age, who talked about what Eco-Age does in working with retail brands to counter the impact of PETA and ensure that they don’t simply ban the use of wool in a knee-jerk reaction. She commented that the wool industry must focus on and communicate the industry’s environmental and animal stewardship, social wellbeing and economic prosperity which are closely intertwined: without one, you cannot have the others. She said that the industry needs to communicate this, accepting and embracing that it will take time to move away from mulesing. It cannot be done overnight. The wool industry’s focus should be on communication: the industry needs to tell the story of the journey to reach non-mulesed wool production.
Full details are included in the NCWSBA’s Weekly Newsletter for the week ending 26th April 2019. Available to NCWSBA Members.