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Sustainable Apparel Forum- Enabling Sustainability through Policies and Leadership



Industrial compliance, workers’ safety and adoption of latest technologies should be the key focus for sustainable apparel industry, said apparel experts in the Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) seminar held in Dhaka. Ensuring sustainability is not the responsibility of a single party, it is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders including buyers, retailers and suppliers. Many issues including environment, workers wellbeing, responsible business conduct and climate change should be considered to make the country’s apparel industry sustainable, they added.

The Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) with support from the embassies of the Netherlands and Sweden, H&M, ILO- Better Work Bangladesh and C&A Foundation organized the second edition of Sustainable Apparel Forum aiming to make the apparel and clothing industry of Bangladesh sustainable. Pierre Borjesson, Head of sustainability- global production of H&M group, said “Bangladesh’s garment industry is not just important for Bangladesh but it is important for whole global textile industry,” while addressing at the opening session of the program. Borjesson also added Bangladeshi ready-made garment sector is the wonder of success and it shows how the industry can ensure betterment of the people: “We need to continue the progress and keep in mind that workers are the key force of the success.” H&M put emphasis on sustainability practices in water consumption and labor issues.

DNCC Mayor and Former BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam, Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Prefontaine and BGMEA Director and BAE Managing Director Mohiuddin Rubel were also present at the Opening Plenary of the SAF. Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Préfontaine said social dialogue is needed about the price of apparel items, the supply chain and workplace culture. On the other hand, local apparel entrepreneurs sought more financing at competitive rates to make the industry socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The garments sector should be transformed with technologies linked to fourth industrial revolution (4IR) to make the business sustainable by strengthening its position in the global competition, they added.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Bangladesh Herry Verweij, BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq, H&M Regional Country Manager Ziaur Rahman, and BAE Founder and CEO Mostafiz Uddin attended the Closing Plenary of the event.  “Much has changed in the industry and this country is now home to some of the world’s best and greenest garment factories. It is impressive that the Bangladeshi garment sector is increasingly investing in people and technology to boost productivity, to increase factory safety, to improve labour conditions and to enhance the sustainability of the industry,” the statement also quoted Netherlands Ambassado to Bangladesh Harry Verweij as saying on the upcoming event. “Netherlands remain committed to support Bangladesh in this effort.”  ‘The sustainability of the industry is a joint responsibility of all stakeholders in the value chain,” the Ambassador added.
With the discussions and recommendations made at the panels a Sustainability Roadmap for Bangladesh apparel industry will be formulated. The progresses of this roadmap will be followed up in next editions of the SAF. A total of 5 panel discussions on issues currently critical to the country’s apparel industry such as on Human, Transparency, Water, Purchasing Practice and Climate Change were held at the SAF where about 50+ Speakers from home and abroad shared their expert opinions.
“Sustainability is not an option but a must for Bangladesh apparel industry.  So, the SAF aims to add pace to the sustainability momentum and drive discussions to that end,” said by Founder & CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) Mostafiz Uddin. A total of 100 exhibitors from 11 countries, including host Bangladesh, participated in the exhibition. The other participating countries are China, Japan, Italy, India, Singapore, Brazil, Spain, Pakistan, Turkey, and Germany. As many as 20 global leaders on apparel technology, innovation, and automation shared their views on the latest apparel products, technology, and innovations in the denim industry.