Silent waters – Diving beyond the resource nexus : A critical case study of clothing brands on water sustainability issues
Sammanfattning: The clothing industry can be linked to problematic issues of social equity and environmental sustainability worldwide. This is manifested in the every-day consumer behavior of industrialized societies, which heavily relies on geographically distant labor and resources. Therefore, this thesis looked at the interconnection of social equity and environmental sustainability from a nexus perspective. Nexus approaches are increasingly defining the pathway to sustainable development, yet they typically represent resource-efficient and technological solutions. This form of problematizing water sustainability can keep long-term societal justice problems ‘beneath the surface’, meaning that they are less considered. The WPR approach was used as an analysis tool to understand underlying implications of water sustainability problematizations in the clothing industry. An embedded single case study on the Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI) was conducted, which included and integrated literature review, brand document analysis and semi-structured interviews. The initiative’s goal is to help clothing brands to address water sustainability issues along the supply chain. The results show that water sustainability stands in connection to four overarching themes; environmental issues, economic issues, technological issues and socio-political issues. There is a consensus in the literature and amongst the industry representatives that the problems connected to water sustainability in the clothing industry mainly occur on factory level in producing countries. Additionally, the results show that brands have difficulties to act on their responsibility as strong influencers of the supply chain if there is not a business case. Overall this thesis concludes that the classical nexus approach is not a sufficient solution to water sustainability issues if resources make up the center of analysis and social implications are only considered secondary effects.
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