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Business Leaders

Ethical Fashion at the Commonwealth Peoples Forum, Uganda, 2007

The Commonwealth Peoples Forum (CPF) is the principal means of engagement between Commonwealth civil society and CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting)

The EFC workshops at CPF looked at three main themes around the creation of sustainable livelihoods through values led models for trade- including product and market, people, and environment.

The workshops included an introduction to the opportunities and challenges associated with sustainable business and trade practices through inspiring case studies based in Commonwealth countries, drawn from fashion and other product sectors. Through the three core themes the workshops examined issues of design, culture, market access and emerging markets, people, skills and innovation, and the environmental impact of business practices and trade.

The workshops used participatory techniques to encourage dialogue, information exchange and collaboration around the three workshop themes.

Key Objectives

  • To introduce participants to several examples of successful trade and business models which have developed and which support sustainable livelihoods within the commonwealth- and how they have achieved this.
  • To inspire participants by the potential social, environmental and economic benefits of sustainable practices in trade and business, and the emerging market for values led products
  • To encourage dialogue, information exchange and collaboration around the key components of sustainable business and trade practices
  • To develop, through participatory processes, concise statements of recommended actions, strategies, collaborative activities or initiatives that participants can take back with them to their respective communities.


3 main themes for workshops introduced:
What constitutes trade for sustainable development?

1. Product & Market

  • Importance of design
  • Traditional and cultural skills as contributors to product USP
  • Product quality
  • Market – successful market targeting
  • Emerging markets- the growing market for ethically produced products
  • Collaboration within the Commonwealth to link products to market

2. People – Realising People’s Potential

  • Training and capacity building
  • Recognising skills and building upon them
  • Building communication and links
  • Building local supply chains

3. Environment

  • Reducing the environmental impact at raw materials stage
  • Reducing the environmental impact during the production phase
  • Reducing the environmental impact during shipping, sales and use phases

Plenary session

The final part of the workshops involved a plenary session during which participants discussed and defined their recommendations to Civil Society, to CHOGM and to the Commonwealth Peoples Forum in relation to the overall CPF event.

Recommendations to Civil Society

The following recommendations were made to Civil Society:

  • There should be more sharing of best practice across the sector- including through networking events and online forums
  • An online open access product directory should be developed for all Commonwealth countries
  • There should be more focus on business support – including training on business planning, financial models, understanding of markets, and quality control.
  • There should be more focus on rural communities/areas and support for small local businesses.
  • Partnerships between civil society and business should be promoted
  • Initiatives should be launched to improve access to market information for small businesses

Recommendations to CHOGM

The following recommendations were made to CHOGM

Commonwealth governments should:

  • Support better market linkage between Commonwealth Countries.
  • Create a “Commonwealth Standard” certification relating to social and environmental criteria and quality control.
  • Support and promote initiatives, such as SACCOS, which improve access to finance fro small enterprises
  • Create and support vocational training institutes.
  • Reduce trade barriers between Commonwealth countries, particularly for social enterprises
  • Improve internet access and functionality in developing countries within the Commonwealth
  • Supporting access for social enterprises, which can really benefit the people in their countries, to international trade shows.
  • Encourage businesses to engage more in outreach and in social and environmental programmes. Promote corporate social responsibility to big business as part of their marketing strategy.
  • Create more structured involvement of grass root people/stakeholders in the planning and decision-making.


Commonwealth Foundation

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth governments, and guided by Commonwealth values and priorities. The EFC was invited to deliver workshops in Uganda around the theme of fashion and ethics at the Commonwealth Peoples Forum.

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