The Dumfries House Wool Declaration is launched by the Prince, but who signed it?

Terry Sim September 19, 2016
At the Dumfries House Wool Conference, from left, Marks & Spencer CEO Steve Rowe, Prince Charles, and supermodel David Gandy.

At the Dumfries House Wool Conference, from left, Marks & Spencer CEO Steve Rowe, Prince Charles, and supermodel David Gandy.

CAMPAIGN for Wool patron Prince Charles has urged wool growers, brokers, processors designers and retailers to sign a declaration outlining wool’s environmental and welfare credentials.

However, almost two weeks after the launch of the Dumfries House Wool Declaration in Scotland on September 9, details of any signatories are unavailable.

At the recent inaugural Dumfries House Wool Conference, International Wool Textile Organisation president and Campaign for Wool chief operating officer Peter Ackroyd said The Campaign for Wool and the IWTO would preside over the signing of the declaration.

“Custodians of the wool industry will ensure a commitment to protect the environment, uphold the best possible practices for sheep welfare, growing, trading, manufacturing and selling wool, and wool-related products at all times,” he said.

The IWTO said the declaration is a promise by The Campaign’s Commonwealth funders — the British Wool Marketing Board, Australian Wool Innovation/The Woolmark Company, Cape Wools South Africa and The Campaign for Wool New Zealand — to commit their time, efforts and talent to promoting the natural benefits and properties of wool.

Mr Ackroyd said the Dumfries House Wool Declaration will agree, among other things, that the major wool growing countries conform to the strictest standards of animal welfare as embodied in the IWTO Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare.

“The IWTO Specifications are premised on the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare as set forth by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE): freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, the freedom to express normal behaviour, and freedom from fear and distress.

“The Five Freedoms also form the basis of national animal welfare legislation in each of these wool growing countries,” he said.

Mr Ackroyd said that in subscribing to the Dumfries House Wool Declaration, the wool industry and its members commit to care about the welfare of the wool sheep and the environment it lives in.

“This declaration formalizes the standards the complete wool pipeline aspires to.”

At the conference, Prince Charles endorsed the declaration and confirmed he would continue as Campaign for Wool patron for another five years. He said the campaign had brought together four previously rival wool organizations representing the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Prince Charles said the Campaign for Wool has had the enthusiastic support of more than 500 global manufacturers and retailers, seeking to stress their commitment to wool as a high-quality renewable fibre and alternative to ‘fast fashion’.

“That, in turn, has led to a most encouraging level of support from designers and brands.”

Princes Charles advises against easing off on wool promotion

However, Prince Charles advised against the industry resting on its laurels.

“On the contrary, this is precisely the time to be pressing on, with our collective foot firmly on the accelerator.

“There is simply so much more to be done and an urgent need to press home the many advantages of choosing wool in the world of today and tomorrow,” he said.

“And that is why the Dumfries House Wool Declaration is so important.

“Of course, I very much hope that you will all want to sign the Declaration and in doing so commit [and I quote] ‘your efforts, time and talents’ to promoting the wonderful natural attributes of wool.  That really would make a huge difference in pushing the campaign to the next level,” Prince Charles said.

“Now I’m not going to repeat what is in the declaration, because you have all been hearing about it throughout today and I’m sure you understand it very well.

“The key thing to me is that it commits signatories to high environmental and animal welfare standards, without boxing people in by suggesting unachievable and unnecessary constraints,” he said.

“We all know that business doesn’t work like that and the last thing we want to do is stifle innovation and initiative.

“What the authors have tried to do is to create a document that sets out the case for wool as succinctly as possible,” Prince Charles said.

“I hope that by signing it here today we can put down a sufficiently firm marker to get everyone to sit up and take notice, and then – in the coming months and years – attract a tidal wave of support for the declaration from other potential signatories.

“I can only say that I’d love to see many hundreds of growers, brokers, spinners, designers, fashion houses, manufacturers, retailers and others all following your lead by making and embracing the same public commitment,” he said.

“In so doing I believe they will position themselves as good citizens of the wool business, with what I hope will quickly become a public and well-recognized seal of approval.”

UK conference was largest wool experts gathering

Campaign for Wool said the Dumfries House conference was the largest and most prestigious international gathering of wool experts ever to be held in the UK, with about 250 wool trade delegates. These included shepherds, growers, farmers, fashion and interior designers, traders, processors, manufacturers, retailers, environmentalists and politicians.

Key conference guests and speakers included Marks & Spencer chief executive officer, Steve Rowe; British designer, Sir Paul Smith; Ermenegildo Zegna chairman, Paolo Zegna; Condé Nast International president and Campaign for Wool chairman, Nicholas Coleridge; The Savory Institute president and co-founder, Alan Savory; Adam Carpets chairman, Alan Folwell; Eco-Age founder and creative director Livia Firth, and; supermodel David Gandy, the face of Marks and Spencer. Representatives from Amazon, Ikea and ASOS also attended the event.

Mr Rowe said Marks & Spencer had been committed to wool for more than 90 years and would continue to be in the future.

“M&S is fully committed to supporting HRH The Prince of Wales’ campaign to encourage a greater awareness of the benefits of wool.

“Today we are one of the leading retailers of wool items, this season alone we’ve bought over three million wool products and will use over 3,500 tonnes of wool throughout the year, confirming our commitment to championing wool as a preferred fabric across our collections,” he said.

Mr Coleridge said the challenge was to encourage lesser users to adopt wool.

Ms Firth said: “I would say that, in essence, we are disruptors, and our mission is to get in there – between the fast fashion system and the consumer.

“If we can seize that opportunity, we get to liberate the ‘consumer’ back into being an active citizen.”

Click here to read the Dumfries Wool Declaration.

Click here to read The Prince of Wales’ full speech.


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  1. Graeme Bell, February 25, 2024

    The NZ Campaign for Wool Education container visited St John’s Primary School in Ranfurly, New Zealand, five years ago and buried a synthetic school jersey and a wool work jersey as an experiment.
    This was based on item number six in the 2016 declaration signed at Dumfries House. In 2023 at end of year breakup at St John’s School those children unearthed the buried jerseys to discover that their 2018 School jersey could have been washed and worn and the work jersey had rotted, except for the zip and plastic liner.
    Campaign for Wool NZ could provide media coverage of the school children being involved in the experiment and unearthing and new school children setting up a new experiment for a future dig up.
    Interestingly, the children now have wool school jerseys as their uniform.

  2. Renata Apatu, September 20, 2016

    The Australian Wool Growers Association and Woolproducers Australia not invited? Are they are not members of The Campaign for Wool?

  3. Edward Wymer, September 19, 2016

    Wonderful sentiments by all concerned. It all sounds like self-regulation, which has never worked and never will work. So unfortunately, it will be a complete waste of time as usual.

  4. Chick Olsson, September 19, 2016

    The Australian Wool Growers Association and Woolproducers Australia tried to secure an invitation to this event, but were not invited. As well-intentioned as this document is, it means absolutely nothing as Australia wasn’t included in its writing.

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