“Sustainability” has become perhaps the buzziest word in the fashion industry in recent years. But in Peru, the commitment to protecting the planet dates back millennia.
This desire to safeguard the environment is inspired by two of Peru’s ancient deities: Inti and Amaru, representing the balance between the natural elements and society.
As one of 10 leading megadiverse countries globally, Peru has 84 of the 117 life zones that exist in the world, as well as 11 of the eco-regions that allow the development of a wide variety of flora and fauna. The United Nations considers Peru among the 17 countries that together hold more than 70 percent of the planet’s biodiversity.
Protecting Peru’s legacy implies protecting the biodiversity and natural resources of Peru. Taking actions to conserve and sustainably use this biodiversity is of the utmost importance, not only to ensure the resources of future generations but also of current ones. This will avoid depleting resources earlier than expected, since today we have exceeded the planet’s capacity.
In 2019, the National Agreement Forum comprised of the government, civil society and political parties, together with the National Center for Strategic Planning (CEPLAN) as a facilitator, approved the Vision for Peru toward 2050. As part of the vision statement, the NAF wrote, “We respect our history and ancient heritage, and we protect our biodiversity.”
This vision led to direct and updated policies and plans as a framework to promote sustainability, working in strategic alliance with the public and private sectors.
The National Competitiveness and Productivity Plan as well as the National Exporting Strategic Plan—the Foreign Trade Sector policy tool that mentions the development of a diversified, competitive and sustainable offer—both allow PromPeru to develop programs focused on implementing sustainability in companies.
As part of its strategic guidelines, PromPeru has included the concept of Sustainable Culture, which frames all the institutional efforts in environmental, social and governance matters, rescuing the country’s roots and seeking to align Peru to global standards.
PromPeru’s role is to facilitate the internationalization of Peru’s image, its tourist attractions and the products and services that the nation has to offer to the world, so sustainable development is essential.
In service of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the trade organization has implemented sustainable criteria for companies’ management and production. This creates an appeal for Peru’s exports and a value proposition for international buying markets.
For instance, since 2009, PromPeru has been implementing the Fair-Trade Peru Good Practices (FTPGP) Standard in exporting organizations and those with export potential in the apparel and decoration articles categories. This national standard’s requirements, criteria and indicators are oriented toward the achievement of a responsible work style within organizations, as well as toward their suppliers and customers, demonstrating transparency and respect in trade. The aim is to achieve greater competitiveness, improved organizational management and, therefore, better use of market opportunities, especially in the ethical economy and fair-trade sectors.
Fair-Trade Peru Good Practices (FTPGP) is designed to measure organizations’ management regarding social and environmental aspects. Peru used international systems and certifications of fair trade as a reference for this standard, which includes the following 10 criteria: create opportunities for stakeholders, internal and external transparency, good trade practices, capacity building, promotion of fair trade, fair price payment, equal treatment, good working conditions, child labor and environment respect.
FTPGP is focused on a third-party verification process. Organizations that intend to certify must undergo an evaluation process based on criteria and indicators defined by an external entity (PromPeru) and consequently audited by a third party, such as a certification body, according to ISO guidelines.
Thirty-seven Peruvian organizations—including companies, associations and cooperatives—have valid certification of Fair-Trade Peru Good Practices, 32 of which are from the garment industry sector, representing alpaca lines, cotton and decoration articles.
The Sustainable Trade department of PromPeru has developed the certification mark “Eco-Efficiency Peru Good Practices,” which includes international standards criteria, such as ISO 9001 (quality management systems), ISO 14001 (environmental management systems) and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety management systems). By implementing “Eco-Efficiency Peru Good Practices,” PromPeru’s intent is that entrepreneurs can identify opportunities to improve their production processes, focusing on key resources—such as water, energy, raw materials and waste—that allow economic savings.
Since 2019, Good Eco Efficiency Practices has been implemented in 22 companies in the garment industry and in the alpaca value chain.
Other sustainable certifications
Due to the importance of sustainability standards in the garment industry, PromPeru has also trained exporters in the interpretation of the norms and dissemination of the requirements of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
These global and national standards are part of Peru’s push to become the most sustainable apparel production market. Reaching this designation is a work in progress for Peru, but the country is on its way, with heritage on its side.
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