About Us

SUSTAINABLE FIBRE ALLIANCE

The Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) is a non-profit standard holding and capacity building organisation. We represent a global alliance of supply chain actors, stakeholders and industry experts with a mission to ensure the long-term viability of the cashmere sector.

Through our work, the SFA aims to minimise the environmental impact of cashmere, safeguard livelihoods and ensure high animal welfare standards. We work with the end-to-end  supply chain, connecting livestock herders to brands and retailers in the global fashion industry.

The SFA Cashmere Standard outlines five global principles for responsible cashmere production:

EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT

DECENT WORK

BIODIVERSITY & LAND USE

ANIMAL WELFARE

FIBRE QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

WHY WE NEED TO ACT

Today, the sustainability of the cashmere industry is under threat. Political transitions and international demand for this luxury fibre have prompted dramatic increases in goat numbers. Coupled with changing land use practices and climate change, this has led to overgrazed and degraded pastures that are less able to support both domestic livestock and native wildlife.

Faced with unstable markets and rising economic hardship, herders are forced to give up their nomadic lifestyle and migrate to the cities, where job prospects are limited. If given the choice, many of these ‘stewards of the rangeland’ would continue to live in the countryside and continue the herding tradition, living close to nature and their animals.

Growing consumer awareness and industry regulation means that brands and retailers are under pressure to demonstrate responsible sourcing in their supply chains. The SFA offers a holistic and globally-recognized standard that addresses the key sustainability and welfare issues related to cashmere production and provides assurance for ‘responsibly-produced cashmere’.

Our APPROACH

The SFA encourages the adoption of responsible sourcing and production practices that benefit people, livestock and the environment. We are unique in truly representing herder voices and the strength of our producer relationships, due to the heritage of SFA.  Our standards allow companies to demonstrate their commitment to transforming the cashmere sector and make credible claims about SFA-Certified products.

Market-led and grassroots
We provide a voice for the cashmere industry and a deep understanding of rangeland systems and the challenges facing the livestock herders

Inclusive
Our membership brings together the whole cashmere supply chain, from herders and farmers to traders, processors, manufacturers, brands and retailers

Evidence-based
Our work is holistic and adaptive, incorporating social-ecological research with local traditional knowledge and best practice

Collaborative
We work with others who share a common vision for cashmere, pooling our resources to maximise our impact on the ground

GUIDED BY NUTAG

We believe that for cashmere to be truly sustainable, we must look at the whole system. This principle of holistic sustainability is at the heart of our approach and is captured by the Mongolian word ‘nutag‘. Nutag refers to the concept of “homeplace” or “homeland“, but it also encompasses the nomadic culture of herders, their ancestral history and traditional knowledge. In other words, nutag describes everything about pastoral life.

We’ve used this concept to guide our approach, working with herders, practitioners and academics to incorporate traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge and best practice to promote resilience for rangelands.

WHERE WE WORK

The SFA has offices in the UK and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and a partnership with the International Cooperation Committee for Animal Welfare (ICCAW) in China.

 

The SFA Cashmere Standard and Clean Fibre Processing Standard cover raw production and primary processing of cashmere fibre in Mongolia and China, while the SFA Chain of Custody operates globally along the full supply chain. We work across 15 provinces in Mongolia and 6 provinces in China

We have over 50 members from 11 countries around the globe, consisting of traders, processors, spinners, suppliers, manufacturers and brands and retailers.

Members

OUR MEMBERS CARE

The SFA is supported by a growing membership of over 50 supply chain companies that have committed to helping transform the global cashmere sector. SFA membership offers a way for companies to take decisive steps towards securing a more sustainable future for cashmere and demonstrating responsible sourcing to buyers. Learn more about the benefits of SFA membership and how to apply.

If you wish to trade in SFA Certified cashmere but do not wish to become an SFA member, you can register as a Chain of Custody Participant for a small annual fee. Learn more about joining the Chain of Custody.

Our Story

HOW WE GOT HERE

Over the course of 8 years, the SFA has grown from a concept into the world’s first global organisation for  cashmere sustainability, with our training and certification programme reaching over 20,000 herders in Mongolia and China. Our two founders grew up in the Mongolian countryside and saw first-hand how climate change and overgrazing was impacting the land. River beds were drying up, grasslands were turning to desert, and the families that once thrived in this environment faced a growing struggle. The Sustainable Fibre Alliance grew from their desire for a lasting, market-based and scalable solution for protecting Mongolia’s rich rangelands and pastoral culture for future generations.

Johnstons of Elgin and Burberry are two of our founding members, helping to establish the SFA as a reputable and impactful organisation within the fashion industry. Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about our story.

2022
  • Reach grows to 15,000 farms in China and almost 100 herder organisations of over 16000 herder households in Mongolia
  • Natural Fibre Connect partnership brings together the cashmere, alpaca, mohair and wool industries  
  • Renewed MOU with ICCAW and CCMI
  • New MOU with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences for monitoring and evaluation
  • Launch of the global SFA Cashmere Standard
  • Minimum content of certified fibre in finished products for claims raised to 100% 
  • Low-interest loans offered to certified herders by Khan Bank in Mongolia
2021
  • The SFA becomes an ISEAL Community Member
  • SFA Membership reaches over 50 companies
  • The SFA helps launch an LCA project to estimate the carbon impact of cashmere production and processing
  • Over 1,500 tonnes of certified fibre traced through the SFA’s Chain of Custody
  • First SFA Certified hangtags show up in stores in Mongolia and Europe
2020
  • The SFA’s Chain of Custody pilot traces 90 tonnes of raw fibre through the cashmere supply chain
  • Khanbogd Cashmere is the first processor to be accredited against the Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice
  • SFA x ICCAW Cashmere Goat Welfare Code of Practice is launched across China
  • SFA Covid Action Plan delivered to help herders and supply chain actors  through the pandemic
2019
  • Scoping mission to the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China to assess expansion into the region
  • Development of the Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice
  • The SFA takes part in the first blockchain pilot for cashmere traceability
2018
  • First certifications against the Rangeland Stewardship and Animal Husbandry Codes of Practice
  • 48 rangeland managers trained and recruited
  • Results Reporting Framework developed
  • Khan Bank offers preferential loan rates to registered herders
  • Launch of the Johnstons of Elgin Young Herder Training Programme
  • The SFA’s first Sustainability Awards take place
  • Programme reaches 3,843 herding households from 11 provinces across Mongolia
  • Over 300,000 cashmere goats produce 75 tons of certified fibre
2017
  • The Rangeland Stewardship and Animal Husbandry Codes of Practice are adopted by 8 herder organisations, reaching 346 herder households from 7 regions across Mongolia
  • The SFA’s Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) is established, made up of respected scientists and practitioners in the field of conservation and pasture management.
  • The first international SFA conference is held in Ulaanbaatar and attended by 160 delegates from 12 countries.
  • Funding is secured from the British Foreign and Common Wealth Office
2016
  • The SFA develops its Rangeland Stewardship and Animal Husbandry Codes of Practice.
  • Following stakeholder consultation, training materials  are developed to support the codes of practice
  • The SFA Board is joined by Andreas Wilkes and Ruchira Joshi
2015
  • The SFA’s two founders, Una Jones and Batkhishig Baival develop the framework and mission for the SFA
  • The SFA is established with support from Johnstons of Elgin, Burberry and Kering Group
  • Alison Rodwell joins as SFA Board Chair 

People

Board of Directors

UK Team

Mongolian Team

 

Latest News

Catch up on all the latest News, Events and Opportunities

SFA Cashmere Conference | Biella, Italy

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2022 Highlights

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Mongolia’s Academy of Science Partnership

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Public Consultation for the SFA Cashmere Standard is now live!

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Ulaanbaatar Conference 2022 | Summary

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Public Consultation for New Standard

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Natural Fibre Connect | Virtual Conference Summary

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Natural Fibre Connect 2022

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COP26 | The SFA meets with the Mongolian Delegation

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Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference | Culture Panel

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The Sustainable Cashmere Standard Public Consultation is Now Open

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Sustainable Fibre Alliance Becomes an ISEAL Community Member

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Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference

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Don’t Miss Wool Connect, September 7-9

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Register your interest in our Mongolia Chain of Custody

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Save the Date – Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference 2021

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Round Two of Public Consultation on SFA-ICCAW Cashmere Goat Welfare Code of Practice is Now Open…

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Round Two of Public Consultation on Clean Fibre Processing (review) is now open…

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Nomadic Herders meet with luxury cashmere brands

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Herder training in Inner Mongolia begins!

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2022 Highlights

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Mongolia’s Academy of Science Partnership

Read More

Public Consultation for the SFA Cashmere Standard is now live!

Read More

Public Consultation for New Standard

Read More

Natural Fibre Connect 2022

Read More

COP26 | The SFA meets with the Mongolian Delegation

Read More

The Sustainable Cashmere Standard Public Consultation is Now Open

Read More

Sustainable Fibre Alliance Becomes an ISEAL Community Member

Read More

Register your interest in our Mongolia Chain of Custody

Read More

Save the Date – Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference 2021

Read More

Round Two of Public Consultation on SFA-ICCAW Cashmere Goat Welfare Code of Practice is Now Open…

Read More

Round Two of Public Consultation on Clean Fibre Processing (review) is now open…

Read More

Nomadic Herders meet with luxury cashmere brands

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Herder training in Inner Mongolia begins!

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Herders Receive Business Development Training

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Proposal for an ‘International Year of Rangelands & Pastoralists’

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Public Consultation on Clean Fibre Processing (review) is now open…

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Public Consultation on SFA x ICCAW Goat Welfare Code of Practice now open…

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Good Herding Podcasts

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The Chain of Custody has started!

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Event

SFA Cashmere Conference | Biella, Italy

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Event

Ulaanbaatar Conference 2022 | Summary

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Event

Natural Fibre Connect | Virtual Conference Summary

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Event

Natural Fibre Connect 2022

Read More
Event

Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference | Culture Panel

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Event

Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference

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Event

Don’t Miss Wool Connect, September 7-9

Read More
Event

Save the Date – Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference 2021

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Event

Sustainable Cashmere Working Group Meeting, 28.04.20

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Event

Animal Welfare Working Group, 04.06.20

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Event

Exhibition, London Design Biennale, 04.09.18

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Event

Sustainability in the Cashmere Sector Conference, 23.05.19

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Event

Parliamentary reception, London, 11.09.18

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