Bangladesh faces environmental and social challenges. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been helping the Bangladeshi government to overcome these challenges through different projects commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union and other international partners. GIZ supports local efforts to establish reliable and efficient energy supplies. A further goal of the partnership between the two countries is to bring about improvements in the legal system.
Concomitantly, to improve working conditions and social standards in factories, GIZ works with numerous partners in the textiles, garment and leather sectors. These include companies, unions and official bodies. GIZ also supports the efforts of factories and tanneries to improve their environmental standards in the areas of waste and wastewater management and energy consumption. Recently GIZ–on behalf of the govt. of Germany and the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh—has unveiled the draft of ‘The National Chemical Guideline for Textile and Garment Industry in Bangladesh to create a uniform standard.
Textile Today has met GIZ Country Director for Bangladesh Dr. Angelika Fleddermann to know more about their activities in Bangladesh including chemical guidelines’ details, renewable energy usages aspects, etc.
Textile Today: As the Country Director of GIZ in Bangladesh, what is your observation regarding sustainability initiatives taken by Bangladesh’s entrepreneurs?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: Sustainability initiatives, understood as focusing on greening businesses, are of course not only a matter of conviction or ethical ambition but have a commercial impact. In the export-oriented RMG sector, the Bangladesh industry has built some of the most modern factories possible. The business community is very well aware of this. Business associations like BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA are taking steps to support their member factories though training and advisory services. Most of the factories are equipped with the latest machinery and technologies to meet the demand of fashion trends. Now, Bangladesh is the home to the world’s highest number of LEED-certified Factories. These factories use energy-efficient and environment-friendly technology and practices that save water and energy and minimize pollution.
Textile Today: On behalf of the govt. of Germany and the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh– GIZ recently has unveiled the draft of ‘National Chemical Guideline for Textile and Garment Industry in Bangladesh. What was the drive behind this significant initiative?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: Although the textile and garment (T&G) industry has grown to such an extent in Bangladesh that it is now second-largest supplier of apparel globally, no National Chemical Management Guidelines (NCMG) are developed for this industry in Bangladesh. In the absence of such a guideline, factories face lots of problems to properly manage chemicals in their factories. To further enhance competitiveness of the T&G industry of Bangladesh in the global market, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) decided to develop the NCMG for the T&G industry of Bangladesh and requested the GIZ to support in developing it. We obviously are glad to provide our support to MoC. This guideline provides guidance to local manufacturers for the appropriate use of chemicals according to international requirements and standards.
improves clarity as more and more stricter requirements from the buyers’ side (brands, buyers, customer) force the producers to more and stricter compliance with environmental standards. Producers are often not sufficiently informed or capacitated to implement measures to improve their compliance.
Provides assistance to understand the landscape of international standards and what is needed for manufacturers to be compliant.
Textile Today: As brands enforce their own set of sustainable guidelines, then how will the manufacturers implement these guidelines? Are the guidelines aligned with the existing chemical guidelines?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: Yes, the guidance provides orientation through the landscape of international guidelines and refers to them; i.e. ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation), EU REACH, Oeko-Tex and others. The guidance is NO new standard.
Textile Today: According to the industry people, all the factories do not have the same facility to comply with the National Chemical Guidelines. What will you remark on the issue?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: Those factories that do not have the facilities will need to find a solution in the process to finding solutions. The Bangladeshi government, like the Ministry of Commerce or the Department of Environment, as well as private sector associations, like BGMEA, BKMEA or LFMEAB, or some technical cooperation agencies, like GIZ, can create spaces to discuss shared responsibilities or other forms to address this. In general, the approval of any kind of regulation, including guidelines, should of course include an assessment of how to implement it.
Moreover, the guidance points out a stepwise approach for the improvement of the environmentally performance of produces. This means, that producers will find information on how to improve their production according to their individual needs and available resources. The guidance will be accompanied by capacity-building measures from GIZ, such as the e-REMC (Resource Efficient Management of Chemicals) training, a comprehensive online self-learning training course, free of cost.
Textile Today: Renewable energy and energy efficiency is a priority area of GIZ working in Bangladesh. How does GIZ work with stakeholders to boost renewable energy usages in the country?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: GIZ is directly working with the private sector stakeholders of T&G industry to help them in developing Renewable energy and Energy efficient projects. We have so far developed 68 solar PV technology based projects at different factories of this industry with a cumulative capacity of 65 MWp (megawatt peak). GIZ provides technical and financial feasibility of such renewable energy projects, also provides consulting services (free of cost) to build the knowledge capital of the factory owners to take informed decisions. Therefore, the factory owners can decide their investment volume more profoundly considering the projects potential in cost-saving, GHG emission reduction.
Through German Development Cooperation training to the T&G industry stakeholders is provided, covering technical design & financial analysis of renewable energy projects, but also training stakeholder regarding different steps associated in developing a renewable energy project with maximum efficiency in terms of time and cost investment.
While working closely with T&G factories, we are also helping the solar companies to develop their resources, and thus bridging the gap between the technology provider and technology seeker by adding value in both end of the value chain and bring them together for successful project implementation.
Textile Today: We want to learn more about GIZ’s activities to boost Bangladesh’s textile and apparel sector. Could you please mention some more actions GIZ has taken or will take to elevate Bangladesh’s textile and apparel industry?
Dr. Angelika Fleddermann: GIZ implements Technical Cooperation on behalf of the German Government and agreed upon between the Governments of Bangladesh and Germany. In the textile and apparel industry, our support addresses the hypothesis that better social and environmental standards in the leading industry will benefit the workers engaged there, but also enhance awareness about decent workplaces in many sectors. Compliant producers will have better chances to sell quality products, which produces revenues that can consolidate employment opportunities. GIZ also supports educational efforts to enhance employability and strengthen an educational ecosystem surrounding the RMG industry.
We understand the Ministry of Commerce as the relevant institution to connect private and public sector institution in the trade related RMG sector. But through the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments and the Department of Environment we also support Governmental authorities that enable Occupational Health and Safety training, inspections, assessments, etc. With the sector´s associations, like BGMEA and BKMEA, we also work on awareness raising and skills development in factories and amongst management and workers.