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Leather Working Group and WWF Collaborate on ESG Concerns

The Leather Working Group (LWG) has established a formal partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create effective change to the leather industry’s ESG practices.

The collaboration will combine the two organizations’ efforts and maximize their impact on a series of initiatives aimed at driving positive environmental and social change in the leather supply chain. Historically, the LWG has sought input and guidance from NGOs such as WWF and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) on topics such as traceability and deforestation. This new milestone is a significant strengthening of the existing partnership represented by WWF joining LWG as an official member.

The LWG-WWF collaboration will build on LWG’s existing base of knowledge and established workstreams to investigate, establish and promote additional solutions to support companies within the leather industry. In turn, members of the leather supply chain will be able to adopt robust systems and meet their science-based commitments in the areas of deforestation, water stewardship, human rights and emissions.

“Collaboration is key to our group’s success, and we are thrilled to have WWF join the LWG as a member and to continue strengthening our partnership with them to help us achieve our goals,” Christina Trautmann, program manager at the LWG, said. “By utilizing WWF’s resources, as well as our own expertise and established connection with the leather industry, our strengthened relationship should yield meaningful, long-lasting change in the ESG practices of the leather supply chain.”

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Mauricio Bauer, senior director of beef and leather supply chains at WWF, said the work being developed by the LWG to enhance sustainability of leather value chains is an important step forward in improving transparency and creating trust for leather stakeholders across the board, especially as LWG welcomes members of civil society for involvement and input.

“Incorporating requirements for additional checks on material sourced from threatened geographies into the auditing protocol is a very effective way to achieve zero deforestation and conversion supply chains for leather globally,” Bauer said. “The Leather Working Group aims to address habitat loss in an open, science based, data-driven way–WWF supports that.”

The LWG aims to facilitate better traceability and transparency in the leather supply chain through the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit. A key priority for the LWG is working toward a fully deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) leather supply chain through due diligence measures that are required within the LWG Audit.

As a compliment to the traceability and due diligence measures required in the LWG audit, WWF will provide expert advice to help the LWG guide companies within the leather industry to understand and respond to issues associated with the provenance and production of leather as a material. This will include providing access to key frameworks such as the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI) and tools like WWF’s DCF Implementation Toolkit, designed to support businesses in reducing their risk of deforestation exposure through supply chain monitoring.

The Leather Working Group has established a formal partnership with the WWF to create effective change to industry ESG practices.

Version 7.0 of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol (P7) introduces a section on social auditing for the first time, driven by the evolving needs of the LWG membership. Building on this, LWG member companies will work on implementing good practices, governance and programs to protect vulnerable communities and safeguard human rights within the leather supply chain.

Managing the use of water in leather production has always been a key environmental priority within the LWG auditing standards, as well as a focus of our collaboration with organizations working in this space. To strengthen this work, LWG will make use of WWF’s work on water resource protection to help all companies in the leather supply chain, including brands and retailers, to understand and manage their water usage, and reduce their impact.

As part of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit, leather producers are assessed on a range of environmental impact factors, including air emissions and waste management. In the future, LWG aims to give brands and retailers more information about the carbon footprint of their suppliers to help them to understand and reduce their own carbon footprint. With WWF, the LWG will assist their member companies to set commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet their Science Based Targets.

The LWG is composed of more than 1,300 members across the leather value chain, including manufacturers, brands, suppliers, traders and associations. The group develops audit certification standards to assess the environmental performance of leather manufacturing facilities and promotes responsible practices in the leather supply chain.