Indigenous Partnership Principles for the Fashion, Apparel and Textile Industries

Shaping fashion’s future: Centering Indigenous leadership and protecting nature

Indigenous Peoples spread across 70 countries worldwide
The ecosystems Indigenous communities steward make up roughly 20% of our planet
Indigenous Peoples steward land that holds an estimated 80% of the world’s intact biodiversity

Whether it’s the leather in your boots or the cotton in your denim, nature provides the raw materials for much of the world’s clothing. Yet the fashion industry’s impact on people is often underestimated. Of the 252 fashion and textile companies that reported on their biodiversity impacts in Textile Exchange’s 2022 Materials Benchmark, only 5 percent said they are consulting with Indigenous leaders and communities. This is even though Indigenous Peoples and local communities have long-established and robust fashion communities and practices.

As the fashion industry increasingly recognizes the importance of nature and biodiversity to its supply chain, as well as reporting and disclosure requirements, it needs to engage Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Fashion currently lacks an industry-aligned approach to integrate Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ knowledge into climate, nature and biodiversity strategies, and this resource is intended to be the first step.

Through global consultations, surveys, and bilateral interviews, Conservation International developed a resource in partnership with Textile Exchange to help the fashion industry achieve meaningful and equitable action to help bridge this gap.

This resource serves as a starting point for meaningful engagement and cooperation. It recognizes the invaluable contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to conservation, fashion creation, and textile innovation. Rather than rigid standards or policies, these principles offer a flexible framework that can be adapted to diverse contexts and needs.


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This guide was developed through bilateral meetings, surveys, and consultations with Indigenous Peoples and local communities spanning 15 countries, covering all seven socio-cultural regions

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At the core of the guide are 12 partnership principles informed by in-depth interviews, surveys and consultations with 33 Indigenous Peoples and local community members from around the globe. These principles lay the groundwork for how fashion, apparel, and textile companies can form strong partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.


What's Next?

Following this resource's launch, Conservation International is looking for leading fashion and textile companies interested in supporting and partnering on operationalization of these principles. If your organization is interested in learning more, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, please get in touch at



In partnership with Textile Exchange and with support from Kering, Conservation International facilitated bilateral meetings and consultations with Indigenous Peoples and local communities worldwide. We thank them for their invaluable contributions.