Fiber Science major Hansika Iyer ’19 joined 112 university students from around the world to participate in the Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit, a two-year collaboration of the U.N. Global Compact and the jewelry company PANDORA.
Participants gathered for the first of two summits this past May to discuss ways the fashion industry can advance the U.N.’s sustainable development goals of health and well-being for all and gender equality for women and girls everywhere.
During the three-day summit in Copenhagen, students worked in groups to develop a list of changes that would help the fashion industry achieve the two Global Compact goals.
“We based our discussion on different forms of capital,” Iyer said. “My group focused on manufactured capital and how the introduction of technology and robots would impact jobs and health and well-being. How can the industry use technology to up-skill workers and create better conditions as opposed to taking away jobs?”
Iyer was one of ten students selected to present their sustainability demands to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a gathering of more than 1,300 international members of the fashion industry, government officials, NGOs, academics and the media, endorsed and endowed by the Crown Princess of Demark.
During her portion of the speech, Iyer addressed the CEOs in the audience. “We expect you to go beyond profit motivations and redefine value as the health, well-being and equality of all humans,” she said. “The prosperity of this investment will manifest itself throughout your organizations.”
Over the next year, Iyer and fellow youth summit members will work on a case study for PANDORA to implement the ideas developed at the summit. The students will re-convene next May to present the results of the collaboration.
“I came away from the youth summit feeling hopeful for positive change in the fashion industry,” Iyer said. “It was amazing to go to an event on that scale and find everyone was passionate about the same thing. I had an incredible conversation with the editor of Vogue Australia, who is a pioneer of sustainable fashion. It was really interesting to learn about the issue from the people who are working on it in the industry.”
Iyer received the Alan D. Mathios Research and Service Grant from the Human Ecology Alumni Association to fund her travel to and from Denmark.