Advancing the paradigm shift – what does ECOSOC consultative status mean for an NGO?

In 2016 Hecho por Nosotros was granted consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a status that gives us access to all of the UN bodies that are open to NGOs. This has marked a new stepping stone in shifting the paradigm in the fashion industry towards more sustainable industry, by granting us opportunities to address sustainability issues in international forums.

What does this all mean then – what does ECOSOC consultative status mean for an NGO?

The United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was established by the United Nations Charter as the principal organ, under the authority of the General Assembly, to promote:

(a) higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development;

(b) solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and

(c) universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

Under the Charter, the Economic and Social Council may consult with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned with matters within the Council’s competence, such as labour rights, social and economic development, and environmental issues. The Council has recognised that these organizations should have the opportunity to express their views, and that they possess special experience or technical knowledge of value to the Council’s work.

NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status can make oral and written statements to ECOSOC meetings, organise events that are held during ECOSOC and its sub-bodies meetings to address, gather people interested in learning and talk about certain issue, and form clusters together with other NGOs and address issues together with UN member countries, UN bodies, NGOs and other relevant stake holders. This is essential for advocating, promoting, educating, and to influence decision makers at highest international level – to bring the controversies of the fashion industry to daylight, and to eventually work together for sustainable future.

Having the ECOSOC consultative status also means that the quality of our work is regularly reviewed by the UN, and that we need to live up to a certain standard in order to continue to have the access we have. We can also team-up and have access to meet other international NGOs and work together for more sustainable future.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the members of UN in 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a broad and universal policy agenda, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with 169 associated targets which are integrated and indivisible. Building on the Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda aims to achieve inclusive, people-centred and sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

As the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development requires a more holistic, coherent and integrated approach at the national, regional and global levels, the role of NGOs in promoting, educating and implementing the SDGs in practise.

The path to achieving these goals will not be easy; nevertheless, we have made it our personal mission to join the work of UN, and thus work together to achieve them. Specifically, our job will relate poverty issues with fashion and explain how we can all contribute towards the goal of alleviating poverty while working in fashion and making it a more sustainable and rounded industry.

As the ECOSOC consultative status is a culmination of long-run work of collaboration with UN and its organs in different projects. With the consultative status we have been actively participating the events of ECOSOC. At the 55th sessions of Commission for Social Development we organised a side event addressing the challenge of sustainability and fighting poverty using the fashion industry as a tool to promote prosperity for all. During the 61st sessions of Status of Women we held an oral declaration on economic empowerment of women in rural areas, by referring the real-life examples of our work. Next, we are participating to the High Level Political Forum that looks into progress of SDGs where we are focusing on building NGO networks and promoting the importance of NGOs in reaching sustainable, inclusive future for all.

We are dedicated to the sustainable reform of the fashion and textile industry – inviting all parties to join to advance this paradigm change in the fashion industry. By working together, we can pledge to “leave no one behind” as stated by the sustainable development goals. It is the peoples that eventually are the agents for change – and to reach the paradigm change in the fashion industry, we cannot forget how consumer demands can make a difference to corporate policies – and the best statement we could possibly make is to support sustainable consumerism and decrease demand for fast fashion.

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