The world is more environmentally conscious than ever as the threats of pollution become more evident.
Fashion, being one of the most polluting industries, can no longer shirk its responsibilities.
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The 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow witnessed a loud presence from the fashion industry as it is now seen as a central part of the climate conversation due to of its role in the climate crisis.
This is a great incentive for the industry to act to protect the environment from the impacts of climate change.
As the world’s second-largest apparel exporter, Bangladesh’s textile industry has made great strides in recent years by integrating sustainability into the heart of its operations.
This is clear from the fact that Bangladesh has the largest number of green clothing factories in the world with 152 LEED certified green factories, of which 44 are platinum rated and 94 are gold rated.
In addition, 40 of the world’s top 100 green factories belong to Bangladesh while another 500 are in the process of being certified. This proves our willingness to focus on environmental sustainability.
Additionally, given the severity of global warming, we are determined and determined to pursue the environmental sustainability we have achieved so far.
That is why, leading a delegation from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to COP26, we reaffirmed our commitment to climate action.
We previously signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action of the UNFCCC, which calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the clothing sector by 2030.
Moreover, it was indeed a great pleasure and an honor for us to represent Bangladesh at the COP26 by installing a “Bangladesh Pavilion” at the official venue of the summit.
The pavilion looked like a mini-Bangladesh at the top, attended by at least 120 heads of state and representatives from nearly 200 countries.
Our main goal was to showcase all the good work of the Bangladesh garment industry on sustainability while highlighting the green revolutions in our factories.
We presented the Garment Industry 2020 Sustainability Report, which was formulated on the basis of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as well as its SDG reports on 47 member factories.
In addition, a video presentation on progress towards sustainability in the Bangladesh textile industry was shown at the Bangladesh Pavilion.
The presentation attracted a good number of visitors, including many brands and international media, who praised the achievements of the Bangladesh garment industry in the field of environmental sustainability.
As such, the summit has proven to be a great opportunity for us to highlight the initiatives taken so far to mitigate climate change, renew our commitment and seek cooperation for capacity building and green finance. .
Participation in COP26 was also an opportunity to keep up the pace of sartorial diplomacy, which we kicked off in September with a month-long tour of the United States and Canada.
Following this tour, this time, with BGMEA Vice President Miran Ali, Directors Asif Ashraf and Abdullah Hil Rakib, and Shasha Denims Ltd Managing Director Shams Mahmud, I visited three European countries, namely the United Kingdom, Belgium and Scotland.
Although COP26 and climate change were the focus of the tour, we have organized various meetings with supply chain actors.
In these meetings, we not only highlighted the progress and potential of Bangladesh’s garment sector, but also discussed what international supply chain partners can do to complement manufacturers’ efforts to mitigate climate change.
For example, on the sidelines of the COP26 summit, we met Primark, one of the leading Bangladeshi clothing buying brands.
We have expressed our support for the goals Primark has set for itself to change the way its clothing is made, halve carbon emissions throughout the supply chain and improve the lives of workers.
To explore profitable ways of green financing in the apparel industry, we met with Fund Director Bob Assenberg and Director Bernadette Blom of the Good Fashion Fund (GFF) in Antwerp, Belgium.
BGMEA and GFF have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support and strengthen the development and adoption of innovative sustainability solutions with a focus on improving environmental and social sustainability in our factories.
Under the agreement, the GFF will provide a long-term loan as well as technical, environmental and social expertise to manufacturers to adopt sustainable production.
In Belgium, I had the pleasure of attending the Board of Directors meeting of the International Apparel Federation (IAF) and the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention. There, I briefed the public on the current state of the garment industry in Bangladesh and its impressive progress, especially in the areas of occupational safety, environmental sustainability and worker well-being.
It should be mentioned that the next IAF Fashion Convention will be held in Dhaka in November 2022, which will be an important occasion for us.
To mark the occasion, we are planning to organize a week-long international program, titled ‘Made in Bangladesh Week’, including the 3rd Dhaka Apparel Summit, a fashion festival and an exhibition to name a few. .
The IAF is the world’s leading federation of garment manufacturers, and its annual conference in Dhaka will be a one-of-a-kind international program in Bangladesh.
During the visit, we also met Leslie Johnston, CEO of Laudes Foundation in Glasgow, Dirk Vantyghem, Director General of the European Confederation of Clothing and Textiles (EURATEX) in Antwerp, Mahbub Hassan Saleh, Ambassador of Bangladesh in Belgium, Rushanara Ali and Rupa Huq, Members of the UK Parliament in London, and many other UK and European brand managers.
During these meetings, our discussions covered a range of issues on mutual interests related to the textile and clothing industry, its challenges and opportunities.
We shared the incredible journey of the Bangladesh garment industry to become a prestigious brand in the global garment market, and highlighted the achievements of the garment industry in the country, including its world class standards. in workplace safety and its exemplary advancements in environmental sustainability and commitment to further excellence in sustainability.
During the tour, we tried to highlight the importance of ethical sourcing to ensure a sustainable supply chain and make a positive difference in the lives of workers, especially against the backdrop of falling prices associated with increased production costs.
We also shed light on the future priorities set by the Bangladesh garment industry with the aim of maintaining its reputation as a safe, sustainable and competitive destination for the world’s garment sourcing.
Sustainable manufacturing has long been a mission and a vision for Bangladeshi garment makers, and it is an issue on which no dissenting voice can be heard.
COP26 was an opportunity to come back to the issue, to reinvigorate our commitment and to show our progress.
However, building on the progress we have made so far can be a decisive step in strengthening Bangladesh’s position as a lucrative garment sourcing center in the competitive global market.
The author is the president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).