EC takes action to make garment sector more sustainable

April 27, 2017 - Europe

The European Commission (EC) has presented a set of focused actions to make garment sector's value chains more sustainable. Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, presented the Staff Working Document on 'Sustainable garment value chains through EU development action' at an event organised by the European Parliament and EC.

The event was organised to honour the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster on its four year anniversary. Challenges and opportunities for creating sustainable supply chains in the garment sector were also discussed at the event.

The Staff Working Document presents an overview of the complex garment sector and the challenges it faces, and outlines a strategy for an effective EU development cooperation response. It focuses on three priorities: economic empowerment of women, who are 75 per cent of garment work-force; decent work and living wages; and transparency and traceability in the value chain. Transparency is particularly important due to the fragmented production of the sector and the widespread practice of subcontracting.

The document also highlights the main intervention areas which include providing financial support; promoting social and environmental best practices; and reaching out to consumers and awareness raising.

"In order for EU development cooperation to positively contribute to sustainable garment value chains, efforts will be directed at supporting the thematic priorities and the identified intervention areas. However sustainable improvements cannot be achieved without the commitment of governments to set the appropriate framework conditions (i.e. accession and adherence to the relevant international agreements) and without strong business engagement," reads the document.

The action areas that would contribute to reaching the overall objectives and positioning the EU as a driver for change are continuing engagement with partner countries and in multilateral for a; continuing to share information and dialogue; and continuing the engagement with the private sector.

The Commission said it is committed to effectively promote and integrate sustainability in the garment sector – with its economic, social and environmental dimensions – in its development actions. Development cooperation can be an effective tool in encouraging the private sector and in engaging in reforms and dialogue with governments in garment producing countries.

"Tragedies like Rana Plaza have put the spotlight on the urgent need to improve the conditions in the garment sector. Many concrete actions to bring immediate improvements are possible and needed. This is what we aim to do. We need to turn tragedy into transformation and stand up for a fairer, safer and greener garment industry," said Mimica. (KD)