International Working Group on Wool Fibres

The International Working Group on Wool Fibres (IWG-WF) aims to facilitate social and environmental sustainability within the industry for wool, a critical ingredient in many fashion products. 

The group’s major task is to transform international markets for high quality fibres such as merino wool, cashmere, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco. Members of the IWG-WF are working on the development of innovative grazing and animal husbandry practices that support the regeneration of grasslands and farmland biodiversity and provide concrete solutions to combat desertification.

The IWG-WF’s scope of work covers five main areas: Traceability, production systems (both for domesticated and wild species), animal welfare, communications and education, and measurement and assessment indicators.

With an important gap of data availability at the ecosystems level, one of the group’s first steps will be improve the overall environmental impacts of the wool value chain with a special focus on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

RESP will develop a set of ecosystems-based indicators that better describe the impact of the wool value chain on the environment. These indicators will include species richness, as well as habitat and functional diversity. 

In following RESP’s general approach, these indicators will be field tested through six pilot projects to confirm their applicability and at the same time identify hotspots and codify best-practices for biodiversity assessment in wool production. The results of this work will be fundamental in advancing the other work areas of the IWG-WF and will provide valuable information to other initiatives currently developing international standards and benchmarks for the wool industry.

It is expected that this initial project will contribute substantially to broader international efforts on natural capital accounting and to enhanced ecosystems valuation tools.