The third edition of the Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF)–organized by the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) has called for a unified code of conduct for all the stakeholders in the textile and apparel industry.
The third edition of SAF – partnering with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) – is happening today on 10 May 2022 at the International Convention City in Bashundhara, Dhaka concurrently with the Denim Expo 2022 where attendees and exhibitors from more than 20 countries, more than 50 speakers have participated in the 3rd edition of SAF.
The textile and apparel industry of Bangladesh has been set an exemplary benchmark for sustainability. To ensure sustainability – the textile and apparel industry needs to follow different international guidelines and sets of standards required by brands and buyers.
On the contrary, fashion manufacturing is becoming ever more expensive due to ever-increasing raw material costs and global supply chain glitches.
In light of this scenario, textile and apparel leaders urged all the stakeholders to come together and work out a unified code of conduct.
Md. Atiqul Islam, Mayor, DNCC said in his speech, “It is imperative for all of the related bodies to set a unified standard. This will encourage our green-certified factories to contribute more to sustainability.”
Policymakers, industry leaders, brand representatives and fashion campaigners from home and abroad have gathered in Dhaka today to accelerate the momentum of sustainability in the Bangladesh apparel industry.
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 the 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, 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, Jead 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 exhibited their sustainability and green technologies, products and solutions at the SAF. The SAF also showcased 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 the Bangladesh apparel industry, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic which has had an immense impact on the 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 collaborative approach to ensure a more ethical and sustainable industry.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bangladesh H.E. Anne Van Leeuwen said: “There have 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.”
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 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 Bikash, Brac, Pacific Associates, and Rahimafrooz Solar were bronze sponsors of the event.
SAF is working to strengthen Bangladesh’s capacity on the global map by accelerating the momentum of sustainability within the industry through innovative technology, awareness and reduction of the knowledge gap.
The aim of this year’s edition is to establish Bangladesh as the world’s most responsible apparel sourcing destination. Government ministers and advisors, the European Union, UN bodies, global fashion campaigners, brands, manufacturers and industry leaders are going to discuss the industry’s needs and how to promote sustainability in Bangladesh’s apparel industry.
“With SAF 2022, we wanted to curate an event where key global industry influencers could gather and provide a catalyst for genuine industry change. This is high-level networking with a specific goal in mind: how can we turn the needle so that the lofty sustainability goals our industry so often talks about are translated into meaningful, practical actions?,” commented SAF Founder Mostafiz Uddin.
Senior representatives from 20 globally renowned recycling and renewable energy companies are exhibiting their sustainability and green technologies, products and solutions while SAF is also showcasing opportunities for much-needed green financing.
The issues highlighted are climate action, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and green finance, purchasing practices, circular economy and regulatory reforms.