SAF organized in Dhaka to Accelerate Apparel Sustainability in Post-Covid

Policy makers, industry leaders, brands’ representatives and fashion campaigners from home and abroad has gathered in Dhaka today to accelerate momentum of sustainability in Bangladesh apparel industry.

More than 50 speakers as well as 20 green growth exhibitors from over 20 countries has participated in the 3rd edition of Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) organized by Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) partnering with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Current important apparel sustainability issues such as climate action, environmental social & governance (ESG) and green finance, purchasing practices, due diligence and legislation, and circular economy were discussed at the five plenary sessions along with opening and closing plenaries of the SAF.

Speakers of the SAF include Tipu Munshi, MP, commerce minister; Md. Atiqul Islam, mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation and former president, BGMEA; H.E. Charles Whiteley, ambassador & head of delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh;  H.E. Anne Van Leeuwen, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bangladesh; H.E. M. Riaz Hamidullah,  ambassador of Bangladesh to the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Faruque Hassan, president, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA); Mohammad Hatem;  executive president, BKMEA; Anna Athanasopoulou, head of unit for social economy & creative industries, European Commission;  Barbara Bijelic, financial sector and regulatory engagement lead centre for responsible business conduct, OECD;  Ian Cronin,  community curator, platform shaping the future of advanced manufacturing & value chains, World Economic Forum; Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, sectors engagement lead, UNFCCC; Pascal Brun, head of sustainability, H&M;  Javier Santonja Olcina,  regional head, Bangladesh & Pakistan, Inditex; Dr Mark Anner, founding director, Center for Global Workers’ Rights and also professor, Penn State University, USA; Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO, Remake;  Najet Draper, vice president research, Better Buying; Gemma Verhoeven,  team lead impact investments, Good Fashion Fund;  Annabel Meurs, head of supply chain transformation, Fair Wear Foundation; and Tuomo Poutiainen,  country director, Bangladesh, ILO.

Senior representatives from globally renowned recycling and renewable energy companies have been also in attendance as well as exhibit their sustainability and green technologies, products and solutions at the SAF. The SAF also showcaseed opportunities for much-needed green financing in the industry.

Founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) Mostafiz Uddin said: “At this year’s SAF we have brought all the fashion stakeholders under one roof to accelerate the momentum of sustainability in Bangladesh apparel industry, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic which has had immense impact on global apparel supply chain. This is high-level networking where it has been discussed how we  can turn the needle so that the lofty sustainability goals our industry so often talks about are translated into meaningful, practical actions?”

In the opening plenary of the SAF, Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation and former President of BGMEA Md. Atiqul Islam said: “The RMG industry of Bangladesh has been vigilant in ensuring the safety regulations, especially after the disastrous event of Rana Plaza.”

He urges a collaborated approach to ensure more ethical and sustainable industry.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bangladesh H.E. Anne Van Leeuwen said: “There has been significant improvements in the apparel industry of Bangladesh as per as safety and sustainability is concerned. However, there is still work to be done to promote sustainability in the sector for which stakeholders’ engagement and collaboration is the key.”

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said: “Today the clothing factories of Bangladesh are not only safer, but also have become more dynamic, modern, energy-efficient and environment-friendly. Bangladesh has the highest number of green garment factories in the world. We believe that sustainability is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We are committed to maintaining the excellence in social and environmental areas which we already achieved, also we focus on up-scaling our business capabilities.

”Stephanie Theirs-Ratcliffe, Director of European Brands and Retailers, Cotton Council International said: “Sustainability is no more an option, it’s a must for the fashion industry now. Cotton Council International is working to ensure the supply of sustainable cotton to the industry.”

Md. Mohiuddin Rubel, director of BGMEA and managing director, Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, said: “The global business landscape has been transformed to a new realism in the recent years and sustainability has become the core area of concern. The Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) envisages becoming a global forum on sustainability established in Bangladesh to promote the sustainability agenda within the textile and apparel supply chain.”

The Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh was title sponsoring the 3rd SAF; while Pacific Jeans, Cotton USA and KDS were platinum sponsors; Epic, Laudes Foundation, Higg and H&M were gold sponsors; Better Work Bangladesh and Prime Bank were silver sponsors; and bKash, Brac, Pacific Associates, and Rahimafrooz Solar were bronze sponsors of the event.