Bangladesh has the potential to establish a sustainable garment sector that ensures consistent adherence to labour rights, green environment along with social progress for both men and women. Harry Veweij, ambassador of Netherlands in Bangladesh made this observation on Monday while addressing a press conference on the 2nd Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) in the capital.
Harry Veweij added that over the past few years, there has been a significant improvement in engagements among the industry, the brands and the trade unions for achieving a sustainable garment sector in Bangladesh. He further noted that even though the situation still needs improvements, every concerned stakeholder share this concern.
At the press conference, he was joined by Dr Rubana Huq, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA); Ziaur Rahman, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia regional head of Swedish multinational apparel retailer H&M and Bangladesh Apparel Exchange founder and CEO Mostafiz Uddin.
The press conference was held to elaborate on the 2nd SAF to be held on November 5 at International Convention City, Bashundhara in the capital. More than 50 speakers from around the world will speak on sustainability in the apparel industry during the five sessions of the event.
Veweij also said nobody wants to buy products that are made by children or that seriously harm the environment. "People feel they have a right to fair products, produced without human rights violations and environmental damage", he added.
Dr Rubana Huq said, "The world is moving forward and everyone is talking about sustainable fabrics and practices. So, there is literary no way of regressing any more when it comes to ensuring sustainable factories, labour practices and of the course environment."
Ziaur Rahman from H&M said, "By 2030, the world's apparel consumption would increase by 65 percent as the population would grow by at least 16 percent. Bangladesh has huge potential of taking a significant share in this growing market while ensuring sustainable labour and environmental practices."
"Sustainability is a part of our decision-making process and we, as a brand, are fully committed to our customers and ourselves to lead the change towards the circular and renewable fashion industry," he added.
In the welcome speech, Mostafiz Uddin said, "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."
The 2nd SAF is going to be the biggest event in the history of Bangladesh apparel industry, he added.
Mostafiz Uddin said the SAF will include a series of discussions on critical issues such as water sustainability, actions to combat climate change, transparency and responsible purchasing practice among others.
A 'Sustainability Centre' would also be set up as part of the forum to allow manufacturers and innovators in the apparel industry to promote their innovations and adopt new environmental technologies. Tours to the green factories in Bangladesh will also be organised for the foreign delegates during the forum.
Moreover, ahead of the forum, two round-table discussions on water conservation and responsible purchasing practices will be hosted at the Embassy of the Netherlands and residence of the Swedish Ambassador in Bangladesh on November 4.
The SAF will be organised by Bangladesh Apparel Exchange and the BGMEA with support from the embassies of the Netherlands and Sweden, H&M, Better Work Bangladesh and C&A Foundation.