The Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in Bangladesh, organized an event titled ‘Promoting Circularity for a Sustainable Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh’ co-hosted with the Nordic Embassies in Dhaka – Sweden, Denmark and Norway – and Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh along with the Sustainable Fashion Platform, while GIZ joined the event as the Strategic Partner.
While highlighting Bangladesh as the second largest sourcing destination for RMG products globally, Mr. Salman F Rahman, M.P., Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Honorable Prime Minister, as Chief Guest at the event stated that “In order to remain ahead of competition Bangladesh must respond to the policy changes, technology innovation, trade, and finance context for the circular economy in the textile sector and proactively adapt to this changing demand by closing the loop.”
In his welcome remarks, NCCI President Tahrin Aman stated that “Climate action and sustainability are an overarching priority for the Nordic countries and the European RMG-brands. As such, sustainability of the environment, production processes and even auxiliary (support) services related to the sector are being reevaluated in line with these global agenda of the brands”.
The Swedish Ambassador, Alexandra Berg von Linde, said in her opening remark on behalf of the Nordic Embassies, that “Environmental sustainability has been a clear overarching priority for the Nordic countries for a long time – and it will continue to be key in our relations with Bangladesh going forward. The same goes for the Nordic companies that are seen as frontrunners when it comes to sustainability and innovation”. She further added that “The Nordics have a lot of experience in cultivating economic growth in an environmentally friendly manner, by applying solutions that are resources-efficient and by re-using, reducing and re-cycling. Naturally, we have learnt some lessons and we want to share these by partnering up with Bangladesh to promote a sustainable and more circular future.
During the Ambassadorial panel discussion, Charles Whiteley, Ambassador & Head of Delegation of the European Union, stressed on impact of upcoming policy developments regarding Circularity and textile strategy in the EU which will affect Bangladesh. He also underscored the importance for proactively addressing issues arising in the RMG value chain soon.
Winnie Estrup Petersen, Ambassador of Denmark, highlighted the Danish contribution to Circular Fashion Partnership with P4G and Danish Global Fashion Agenda. She mentioned that the Danish Embassy in Dhaka offers a dedicate team to customers to ensure sustainability and greening of value chains. She added that, factories which incorporate circularity in their production process can yield massive industry savings.
Silje Fines Wannebo, Deputy Head of Mission, speaking on behalf of the Norwegian Ambassador Espen Rikter-Svendsen, emphasized the efforts of the Norwegian Embassy to combat water pollution, one of the major externalities created by the RMG sector in Bangladesh, through the “Integrated approach towards sustainable plastics use and marine litter prevention in Bangladesh” in collaboration with UNIDO.
H.E. Alexandra Berg von Linde, Ambassador of Sweden also spoke about how the newly launched initiative called “Sustainable Fashion Platform” by Sweden, which serves as an umbrella for combining the Swedish stakeholders´ and RMG-brands efforts on sustainability in the RMG sector, can support with both bringing climate-smart and green tech companies to Bangladesh, as well as facilitating policy dialogues. She also mentioned that Sweden is exploring how a Credit Guarantee could increase the appetite, and lower the perceived risks, for green investments.
Lokhman Hossain Miah, Executive Chairman BIDA joined the event as the “Guest of Honor”, while Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA and Faiyaz Murshid Kazi, DG, Multilateral Economic Wing, Ministry of Foreign affairs spoke as Special Guests.
This event provided a platform for the brands and buyers to showcase their circular agenda and interact with relevant stakeholders which will enable policymakers present to formulate progressive policies. The event also assisted manufacturers in better understanding the requirements of the buyers and align their business plans accordingly. Business leaders, foreign dignitaries, government regulatory bodies, policymakers and advocacy coalitions also joined in the event.
The RMG sector accounts for over 80% of Bangladesh’s total export to the world, earning over $42 billion in 2021-22s. Sustainability has been one of the burning issues in the textile and garment industry of Bangladesh for quite some time now. However, some procedures within the industry have continued to be inconsistent about environmental sustainability. H.E. Mr. Charles Whiteley, the head of European Union Delegation to Bangladesh, in his keynote speech highlighted the need for the policymakers and the manufacturers to know the perspective of the buyers and their agenda. His Excellency said “As Europe harbors on the Agenda 2030 to close the loop by transitioning to a complete circular economy, Bangladesh must quickly respond to these latest policy developments in the textile sector of the European Market to keep the economy running at its current pace.
On another panel discussion titled “Policy and Roadmap Ahead”, Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary Md Hafizur Rahman, BKMEA Vice-President Akhter Hossain Apurbo, BGMEA Director Abdullah Hil Rakib, Reverse Resources Head of Operations Mumit Hasan, discussed about what policy and roadmap Bangladesh should follow.
In the panel discussion, Hilde Van Duijn Head of Global Value Chains Circle Economy, Netherlands and partner of UNIDO within scope of SWITCH to Circular Economy project (funded by EU and Finland Government) moderated the session.
Prime Bank Ltd joined the event as the “Powered By” sponsor, while Cyclo Recycled Fabric was the “Gold Sponsor”, with “DSV” and “Northern Toshrifa Group” was the “Silver Sponsor”. The Annual Platinum sponsors of the Nordic Chamber are Aman Spinning Mills Ltd, Arla Foods, Pran Dairy, Maersk, GraphicPoeple, Novo Nordisk and Software People.