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Inditex Dedicates $10 Million to Nature Restoration, Aligns with WWF

Inditex is teaming up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help fund nine nature restoration projects across North Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Entering a three-year partnership agreement, Inditex and the WWF will focus their efforts on forest restoration and conservation, water basin restoration and conservation, and species and habitat protection.

To fund the restoration projects, the Zara and Bershka owner will allocate part of the extra money earned by charging customers for paper bags and envelopes—an initiative it launched in 2021 with the aim of promoting the use of reusable alternatives.

Inditex will make a minimum annual contribution of 3 million euros ($3.2 million) to WWF, with 4.2 million euros ($4.5 million) set for 2022. Through 2025, the Spanish company will contribute more than 10 million ($10.6 million) toward the restoration of threatened ecosystems.

During the signing ceremony the duo attended in Geneva, Inditex CEO Óscar García Maceiras, said the fashion giant’s “sustainability strategy seeks to increase the positive impact of our work on people, communities and natural resources. We are therefore delighted to partner with organizations like WWF who share our determination to help protect and restore ecosystems worldwide. We believe that WWF, with its proven track record and global reach, is the best long-term partner for powering up our environmental commitments through transformational work targeted at our entire industry.”

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The move comes a year after another industry conglomerate, LVMH, partnered with nonprofit environmental organization Canopy to further support forest conservation efforts. The luxury fashion giant committed to ensuring that its supply chains for paper, paper packaging and fabrics are free of fiber from the world’s ancient and endangered forests by the end of 2022. This includes finding alternatives to endangered forest fiber to manufacture paper, packaging and textiles, like agricultural residues, recycled textiles and microbial cellulose.

More recently, Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturer Crystal International Group Limited expanded on its own reforestation efforts by planting 100,000 mangrove trees in Bangladesh this year.

As Inditex aims to follow these nature restoration efforts, the fast-fashion giant is now partnering with a firm with the mission to reverse nature loss and achieve a nature-positive world by 2030.

“Nature underpins our economies, our societies and our wellbeing,” said Marco Lambertini, the director general of WWF International. “However, we are losing it at an alarming rate. Like many industries, the apparel and textile sector is highly dependent on nature and biodiversity. However, it also has a significant impact. We need urgent action to halt and reverse nature loss, including collective and strategic investments in restoring and protecting biodiversity.”

The forest restoration and conservation projects will focus on protecting the biodiversity and fostering the sustainable management of Castile-La Mancha, which accounts for over 13 percent of Spain’s total forest land; and supporting forest restoration work in Datça-Bozburun in Turkey and the oaklands of the Cratere degli Astroni Nature Reserve in Naples, Italy, both of which have been affected by recent forest fires. Both companies will also promote forest conservation efforts in Dadia, Greece, a destination for Europe’s birds of prey.

Water basin restoration and conservation projects are concentrated in North Africa, specifically the Sebou River in Morocco, the coastal wetlands of Tunisia’s Ghar el Melah, and the wetlands of Algeria’s Guerbes-Sanhadja plain. In addition, Inditex and WWF will direct more funding to a project in Vietnam to restore the Tra Su wetlands located in the country’s Upper Mekong Delta region. The company aims to increase climate resilience and enhance biodiversity in the area.

Lastly, species and habitat conservation projects that will benefit from the partnership include the conservation of the Gran Chaco tropical forest and Pantanal wetlands through community-based projects in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The species and habitat projects span two more continents beyond South America.

In Mexico, WWF is working with local organizations to protect and restore the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and the Central Pacific Jaguar Landscape to ensure the future of the near-threatened jaguar, the threatened monarch butterfly and other key species and communities that depend on these landscapes.

And in northern China, the Pull & Bear parent can now assist WWF in its work in the Taihang-Yan mountains in the country’s northeastern Amur-Heilong region. This area is a vital habitat for several medium-size and large predators, including 60 percent of the country’s leopard population.

Inditex will invest the remaining money from paper bag and envelope sales in environmental projects run by several other organizations, such as the sanitation network improvement projects being championed by Water.org in several Southeast Asian countries and the collaboration with Action Social Advancement (ASA), together with Laudes Foundation, IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and WWF-India, to foster regenerative farming practices in India.

As part of the agreement, WWF and Inditex will enter a year-long scoping phase that focuses on water stewardship and biodiversity conservation. This analysis will include drawing up a map of impacts along Inditex’s value chain and a review of its actions, impacts and advances with a view to identifying priorities and key geographies. With the results in hand, the two organizations will seal a second agreement, to which a budget will be allocated, for making progress on sector transformation.