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Asia's apparel-producing areas to be under water by 2030: ILO study

Jul '21
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Large patches of apparel-producing zones in Asia will be under water by 2030, threatening thousands of suppliers with submersion unless they relocate to higher ground, an analysis by two Cornell University researchers showed. It was part of a paper commissioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) released last week. It overlaid maps of rising sea levels onto factory locations.

The analysis by Jason Judd and J Lowell Jackson of Cornell research centre the New Conversations Project cautions that the problem of rising sea levels is receiving little attention from those leading sustainability efforts in the apparel sector.

“It appears some of apparel’s production centres representing a significant percentage of current output will not escape the projected acceleration of the climate crisis,” they were quoted as saying by a global newswire.

While larger, transnational suppliers might be able to shut down facilities in vulnerable areas and consolidate production on higher ground, smaller-scale suppliers would be most affected, the paper’s authors said, highlighting the example of Bangladesh, the second-largest apparel exporter.
“We’re worried. This is a real threat. More and more factories are going greener. Still our factories could go underwater,” Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said of the findings.

“But we can’t move our factories to a higher location overnight. We are already passing through an unprecedented time due to the pandemic. Where will we get money? Who will pay us?” he lamented.

The analysis, which covered Jakarta in Indonesia, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Tiruppur in India, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Guangzhou in southern China, Colombo in Sri Lanka and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam overlaid a map of factory locations from open-source factory database the Open Apparel Registry onto data from US climate change think-tank Climate Central on where elevation will fall below the level of a coastal flood on average once per year by 2030.

Climate Central’s data is based on projections from global data sets published in peer-reviewed science journals, according to its website.

The overlaid maps paint the gravest picture in Ho Chi Minh City and Guangzhou where an estimated 50-60 per cent of factories will be below the level of the average annual coastal flood by the end of the decade.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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