5. May 2009 Daniel Kruse

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.
On the web page http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/index.html you will find a lot of information about 15 different natural fibres, pictures, data, background information, events, movies and more …
EIHA is member of the International Steering Committee of the IYNF and EIHA was able to keep hemp on the agenda! See http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/fibres/hemp.html