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IAF, ITMF unveil Standards Convergence Initiative

Feb '21
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) and the International Apparel Federation (IAF) have unveiled Standards Convergence Initiative (SCI). The SCI will serve as a global industry wide platform to discuss and develop a strategy as well as tools to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue in clothing and textile industries.
SCI, the joint initiative of the ITMF and IAF was unveiled by the two organisations during a side session at the OECD Forum on due diligence in the garment and footwear sector held online from February 1-5.
The auditing conduct of standard holders, along with brands, retailers and other buyers’ decisions determines if we are moving firmly in the direction of less unnecessary overlap of audits and standards, as stated in IAF’s press release. Therefore, one of the first steps of the SCI, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), is to create transparency in the conduct of the main standard holders, brands and retailers and 3rd party standard holders, measuring to what extent they are contributing to the reduction of audit and standard fatigue. 
For this purpose, the SCI has identified four criteria to use as a yardstick to judge standard holders’ commitment to reduce audit and standard fatigue. The four criteria are: willingness to harmonise standards; compliance with OECD and ILO guidelines; the use of existing platform to avoid audit duplication; and global certification of auditors. 
The four criteria will provide a foundation for a structural monitoring of standard holders’ efforts to reduce audit and standard fatigue that will be carried out by ITC. During the session at the OECD Forum, the ITC explained how its unique standards map database will be used to measure and monitor standard convergence in the industry. First results of the monitoring are expected in the third quarter of 2021. 
In addition to this monitoring exercise, from its global, industry wide vantage point, the SCI will actively foster collaboration between different actors that are each working on a partial solution. And, because large brands and retailers sticking to their own standards block the reduction of standard fatigue, the SCI will continuously call on these brands and retailers to either drop their proprietary standards in favour of 3rd party standards or to collaborate in other ways that observably reduce audit and standard fatigue.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (JL)

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