Australian brand Country Road, a subsidiary of Woolworths Holdings Limited, has announced the launch of Australia’s first fashion industry climate fund, thus recognising that fashion directly contributes to the climate crisis. It is planning to invest 1.5 million US dollars in grant funding to projects driving climate solutions in the Australian fashion industry over the next three years. The annual grants program will allocate up to 500,000 US dollars in the first year alone.
“While there are many existing and innovative climate fashion solutions, many of these solutions lack the finance to be developed or deployed across the fashion industry. The aim of the Country Road Climate Fund is to bridge this financing gap by investing in, incubating, and accelerating climate solutions in the Australian fashion industry,” stated Country Road in a press release.
“Country Road is on its own journey to be a world-leading responsible lifestyle retailer. We have a science based climate target, with a goal to reach net zero by 2040, and by 2030 we aim to have all our Australian and New Zealand stores, as well as our head office and distribution centre, supporting renewable energy,” said Elle Roseby, managing director of Country Road.
“The Climate Fund was created as part of our responsible business journey which strives to drive positive change across climate, nature, and community within its own operations, and also through building positive outcomes in our value chain and beyond,” added Roseby.
“What makes the Climate Fund so exciting is the recognition of the Australian fashion sector's impact on climate change. It requires pursuing and supporting multiple approaches simultaneously. This is exactly what Country Road is doing with its new fund that focuses on protecting and restoring biodiversity, supporting Indigenous Peoples and innovating around business models and products,” commented Helen Crowley, sustainability leader and project advisor of the Climate Fund who is also part of the assessment committee.
Acknowledging that climate outcomes can be achieved through nature-based solutions, the circular economy, innovative solutions or First Nations-led practices, the fund is also targeting projects that align with one or more of these sub-themes: biodiversity conservation to protect and restore natural habitats, the circular economy to reimagine the textile lifecycle, unique and disruptive technologies shifting the face of fashion and projects or partnerships led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Country Road Climate Fund focuses on nature-based solutions
“I am so proud to see this industry leading initiative, which truly reflects the values of Country Road. What I particularly love is the recognition and respect for the ongoing custodianship of Country from First Nations peoples across Australia. Initiatives like this genuinely support community leadership, foster partnerships and invite innovation and creative thinking, said the Climate Fund's project advisor Yatu Widders-Hunt, who is a descendant of the Dunghutti and Anaiwan Peoples from north-western New South Wales.
Together with Crowley and Widders-Hunt, the assessment committee comprises of Aleasha McCallion, co-founder of the Circular Economy Textiles Program at Monash Sustainable Development Institute and Fabia Pryor, brand sustainability manager at Country Road.
The new fund is part of Country Road’s existing responsible business journey which includes partnerships with Landcare Australia to restore Australian cotton farmlands, Oritain to scientifically verify fibre origin, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation to support emerging First Nations artists and creatives, and Red Cross to help divert waste from landfill while raising funds for local communities.
Country Road’s primary aim is to invest in projects with a positive climate impact, thus directly and indirectly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These include projects that improve energy efficiency in the production of textiles or projects that provide consumers with accurate data on the emissions intensity of different fashion items, encouraging more sustainable fashion choices.
The deadline for applications is 1st December 2022. Grant recipients will be announced in April 2023. On Friday, 4th November, there will be an online information session for potential applicants from 1 to 2 pm. More information can be found on the fund’s website, countryroad.com.au/climatefund.