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Fossil Supply Chain Impacts 2013

RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report describing the company’s supply chain standards related to environmental impacts – particularly water use and related pollution. This report, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, shall be released by November 1, 2013.

SUPPORTING STATEMENT:  Companies that rely heavily on water or other resources in their supply chains are vulnerable to resource scarcity and reputational damage.  Investors increasingly seek disclosure of how companies manage this risk and maximize opportunities for brand enhancement through reputable supply chain management.

Leading companies in apparel and accessories publish policies and reports that describe vendor standards and sustainable business practices. They disclose information about key environmental impacts throughout the value chain of their products.  Nine West, Adidas, and many other companies participate in the Leather Working Group (LWG), a multi-stakeholder initiative that maintains an environmental auditing protocol and promotes sustainable business practices among companies that produce leather and leather goods.  

In 2010, Nike committed to have all leather suppliers join LWG and actively worked with their suppliers toward that goal.  Nike also took a leading role in developing the auditing protocol to strengthen the voluntary program.  Timberland was a founding member of LWG and has continued to work closely with tanners to reduce environmental impacts.  

While leather goods are a growing segment in Fossil’s product line up, the company is not a member of the LWG and does not disclose information about an alternative supplier environmental audit program. Furthermore, Fossil does not disclose corporate environmental policies or communicate to shareholders important information about long-term sustainability performance such as water and energy use and pollution reduction strategies related to leather goods production.  

Fossil’s supply chains employ energy-intensive processes and create significant water demands and detrimental effects, particularly in leather tanning and finishing.  Producing leather goods is a water intensive process.  According to the Water Footprint Network, on average it takes 4,400 gallons of water to make one pair of leather shoes. 
 
Leather tanning and finishing are polluting processes that use and discharge heavy metals, chemicals, organic matter, salts and acids.   Untreated effluent is a serious problem in developing countries where leather production is growing.  With suppliers located throughout the world, Fossil is well positioned to work with third party manufactures to improve sustainability practices and disclosure.   
 
The business risks associated with water scarcity and declining water quality are likely to be worsened by climate change in certain regions.  It is imperative that Fossil address these long-term business risks.  
 
There are significant opportunities for Fossil Inc. to adopt practices that reduce supply chain environmental impacts.   There are a number of readily available, free, risk mapping tools such as the WBCSD Global Water Tool, GEMI’s Local Water Tool, WWF and DEG’s Water Risk Filter, Ceres Aqua Gauge or CEO Water Mandate’s Water Disclosure Guidelines. 
 
THEREFORE, please vote FOR this common-sense proposal for improved environmental performance, transparency and success of Fossil Inc.’s long-term operations.