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IOM promotes sustainable production, fights exploitation in Ukraine

Two thirds of consumers worldwide are ready to pay more for brands committed to the principles of sustainable production.

About 70 per cent of customers surveyed by Fashion Revolution team in 2018 in the five largest European markets believe that fashion brands must provide information on how they apply socially responsible practices.

What’s that got to do with migration?

What’s that got to do with Ukraine?

People in Europe’s second-largest country are starting to pay more attention to what they purchase, wear, eat, drink and throw away. Usually, when a brand or a product is described as sustainable, only its environmental impact is considered. Keeping this positive momentum, IOM Ukraine aims also to draw more attention to the issues of human rights and social responsibility among consumers.

According to 2018 ILO data, 24 per cent of all employed Ukrainians work outside the official labour market, and women are paid a full 21 per cent less than men. Forced labour has been the main type of human trafficking in and from Ukraine for over nine years, and since 2016 IOM has been assisting over 1,000 victims of labour exploitation annually.

“As an organization with vast experience in protecting human rights and countering human trafficking, IOM understands that exploitation is driven largely by demand for cheap labour, and without tackling this demand it is impossible to end modern slavery,” says Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.

Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), IOM partnered with the Made in Ukraine NGO to promote responsible consumption and production among Ukrainian small and medium businesses and their customers. The joint initiative, titled Svidomo Made (“svidomo” means “consciously” in Ukrainian), will be sensitizing businesses and customers to the values of Sustainable Development Goals and protection of human rights.

“Few people would care how much a seamstress in South-East Asia earned for a T-shirt they bought for three euros,” says founder of Made in Ukraine, journalist Yulia Savostina. “We are going to change this, just as we will challenge the working conditions in Ukraine, which, according to my observations while visiting thousands of companies, in many cases are poor with damp premises, inappropriate conditioning or lack of light,” she adds.

The Svidomo Made experts, trained by IOM and equipped with specific tools gleaned from IOM’s global experience, will be assessing corporate sustainability standards of the Ukrainian companies who volunteer to undergo a check-up. Issues under scrutiny will include recruitment practices and working conditions; decent pay and social protection; respect for human rights, inclusiveness and non-discrimination; safety of workplace; transparency of the supply chains; environmental safety and protection.

The assessment will be carried out through interviews with the company owners and top management, as well as through a review of the company’s policies and practices. It will also include visits to the production sites and interviews with employees. The enterprises successfully passing the assessment will be able to display Svidomo Made sign on their products, thus gaining a competitive advantage.

The Svidomo Made initiative will also provide a common platform for manufacturers committed to sustainable development to jointly communicate their values to customers and other partners.

The first such fair was conducted last month in the capital Kyiv, bringing together 20 companies, showcasing organic cosmetics and household cleaning products, clothing and eco-friendly home accessories. Visitors were able to participate in lectures and discussions on waste management, elimination of plastic bags, and preserving the Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains, as well as on countering human trafficking and protecting workers rights. 

In 2020, educational and capacity-building events for local manufacturers, public presentations for investors and government authorities and awareness-raising campaigns will be conducted.

“We all can change the situation by being aware, by consuming responsibly, by looking into the ways the goods we use were produced. Individual examples will promote responsible consumption among wider public, teaching people to make grounded choices and transforming their outlook on what each of us can do for a better world, better today, and better future,” says IOM’s Nguyen.



*Made in Ukraine NGO was established in 2013 with a goal to popularize Ukrainian manufactures nationally and abroad, contribute to development of local businesses, responsible production and quality control. It targets 2 million customers and more than 1,200 small and medium-sized businesses.