Thursday, March 19, 2009

International Year of Natural Fibers 2009 - ONU

Why are natural fibres important?

Some 30 million tonnes of natural fibres are produced annually. Natural fibres form an important component of clothing, upholstery and other textiles. Many of them also have industrial applications - in packaging, papermaking and in composite materials with many uses, including as parts in automobiles. In many developing countries, proceeds from the sale and export of natural fibres contribute significantly to the income and the food security of poor farmers and those working in fibre processing and marketing. For some developing countries, natural fibres are of major economic importance: for example, cotton in some West African countries, jute in Bangladesh and sisal in Tanzania. In other cases, fibres are of less significance at the national level but are of major local importance, as in the case of jute in West Bengal (India) and sisal in north-east Brazil.

Why an International Year of Natural Fibres?

Since the 1960s, the use of synthetic fibres has increased, and natural fibres have lost a lot of their market share. Producers and processors of natural fibres face the challenge of developing and maintaining markets in which they can compete effectively with synthetics. In some cases, this has involved defining and promoting market niches. In others, where their natural advantages allow them to compete effectively with synthetics, basic research and development is needed to facilitate the use of natural fibres in new applications.

The main goal of the International Year of Natural Fibres is to raise the profile of these fibres and to emphasise their value to consumers while helping to sustain the incomes of the farmers. In addition, the International Year will:

  • promote the efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres industries;
  • encourage appropriate policy responses from governments to the problems faced by natural fibre industries;
  • foster an effective and enduring international partnership among the various natural fibres industries.

Who decided that 2009 would be the International Year of Natural Fibres?

The idea came from a meeting of fibre producing and consuming countries in FAO. At the request of FAO, the declaration of 2009 as International Year of Natural Fibres was made by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 December 2006.

Who will coordinate the International Year?

There is a coordinating unit in FAO, but a great many other organizations and people will be involved. An International Steering Committee, with representatives from various fibre organisations, consumer bodies, and funding agencies, will meet from time to time to guide the programme. Most of the activities will be organized by IYNF partners, some at the international level, and many more within individual countries.

What will happen in 2009?

The programme of events is now filling out. One or more large international conferences will be held. There will be displays and fashion shows and many other events in many countries, run by a variety of different national organizations.

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