Transparent value chain management for fashion industry’s post-COVID recovery
07 August 2020: A recent International Textile Manufacturers (ITMF) survey of 700 companies worldwide revealed that globally, current garment orders dropped by 31 per cent on average. In Bangladesh the crisis is putting at risk about 4 million workers, mostly women, with one million garment workers having already lost their jobs. The Bangladesh garment industry accounts for more than 80 per cent of the country’s annual exports.
It is, therefore, reported by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that accelerating the transition to more sustainable and transparent global value chains needs to be at the heart of the fashion industry’s response to the severe socio-economic challenges and supply chain disruptions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At a recent UNECE meeting, 170 experts from industry, government, NGOs, standard setting bodies, academia and think tanks, discussed concrete actions that can strengthen the contribution of supply chain transparency and traceability towards a sustainable recovery in the hard-hit garment and footwear industry. Representatives of the European Commission, the French Ministry of Economics and Finance & National Contact Point to the OECD, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and EURATEX, all emphasised the recent acceleration in policy and law making aimed at strengthening the industry’s due diligence, sustainability and circularity.
Embedding due diligence and sustainability considerations into COVID-19 crisis management is a chance to switch to more responsible business models. Transparency and traceability of the value chain can sustain such efforts and translate into value that will support the industry’s recovery, bringing long-term benefits for their balance sheets and productivity, linked to various factors.
A virtual meeting took place recently as part of a multi-year EU funded UNECE-UN/CEFACT project aimed at ‘Enhancing Transparency and Traceability of Sustainable Value Chains in Garment and Footwear’. The UNECE project team together with key industry players, such as Alba Group, Vivienne Westwood, and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T, discussed a twofold business approach for traceability: 1) a basic approach for SMEs, and 2) an advanced approach for large enterprises.