creating a sustainable cashmere supply chain

SFA's Work

The SFA's Work

Why We Act?

Cashmere production is the backbone of nomadic herders’ livelihoods in Mongolia, and other cashmere producing regions, providing a major source of income. Current grazing practices for cashmere goats, combined with global warming are putting they livelihoods and the fragile ecosystem that supports it at risk.

Desertification, climate change and economic hardship are driving herders either to the cities or to increase their cashmere goat herds to unsustainable levels. In this vicious cycle, overgrazing is a major cause of grassland degradation, causing deterioration in vegetation and eroding soils. Increasing desertification makes people and the environment vulnerable to droughts and floods, and threatens the health and survival of both livestock and wildlife alike.

The social and environmental impacts of unmanaged cashmere production can be enormous. Herd sizes are increasing dramatically and climate change is affecting the ability of grassland to support herds resulting in grassland degradation and, eventually, desertification. Herders are increasingly leaving the grassland to live in the cities where life is also very hard and social problems abound.

Mongolia has the largest open grasslands in the world with around 117 million hectares of arid and semi-arid grassland. This ecosystem supports a range of internationally important animals and plants, many of which are endemic and globally threatened. Almost 90% of Mongolia’s pastureland is vulnerable to land degradation and desertification (source: United Nations Convention in Combating Desertification (UNCCD).

How We Work?

The SFA works along the entire value chain of cashmere including: herder cooperatives; manufacturers; NGO’s; development initiatives; governments; fashion designers; global brands, retailers and finally the customers. We work to bring together all stakeholders to support a sustainable and competitive supply chain. The SFA champions environmentally sustainable methods for the production of cashmere fibres by:

  • Developing and monitoring Codes of Practice that comprise the SFA Sustainability Standard and are used by herding communities and others to protect and restore vulnerable grasslands that support cashmere fibre production.
  • Supporting the training of herding communities in techniques that lead to sustainable grassland management, improved animal welfare and secure livelihoods for producers.
  • Bringing together fashion brands and retailers to form partnerships that support and promote global sustainability of cashmere products using the SFA Sustainability Standard.
  • Supporting supply chain partnerships commited to good animal welfare and environmentally friendly processes.

Our primary goal is to ensure that measures taken to address desertification are sustainable in the long-term improving economic, social and environmental viability for those who work in the cashmere supply chain is central to our collaborative partnerships. Our approach to sustainability, working in alliance with the end to end cashmere supply chain enables our unique offer of a sustainable solution for the cashmere industry developed by the industry. We offer a platform for partnerships to promote community based conservation and sustainable solutions at grassroots level.