‘Garment and textile agreement is relevant’
The Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile is turning out to be a relevant and effective way of improving sustainability in the garment and textile sector. Participating companies are tracking down risks in their production chain and taking steps within their own organisations. In the period ahead, the focus must come to lie on demonstrating impact across the production chain worldwide. These are the conclusions of Avance Impact in an independent evaluation report that is being published today.
Avance Impact has evaluated progress on the agreement at the midway point of its five-year term. The evaluation process included interviews with various participating companies and parties as well as external parties.
Pierre Hupperts, independent chairman of the Agreement: ‘The evaluation report gives us an important sign: it confirms that the agreement offers a good pathway towards sustainability in the garment and textile sector. Our task is to keep moving forward. We still have much work ahead, especially in production countries.’
The agreement has already achieved a number of important milestones since its launch in 2016. For example, participating companies are growing more skilled at due diligence: they examine their production chain, identify potential and actual malpractices, and then prioritise and try to tackle them.
Transparency has also improved thanks to the annual publication of the aggregated companies’ production locations. The parties further cooperate on projects and participating companies publish their own sustainability reports, including their risk analysis. Avance concludes that they are working hard to gain a better insight in their production chains.
From insight to impact
The midterm evaluation concludes that the participating companies have got off on the right foot. For example, they are now much more knowledgeable about due diligence and aware of how to make better use of it in their organisation, and they have a better insight in their production chain and where the risk of malpractice is greatest.
Avance also concludes that the agreement had a very lofty ambition at the start: ‘to make substantial progress within a period of three to five years for groups experiencing adverse impacts’. The research agency says that it has seen the first signs of progress in the production chain, but that achieving a noticeable impact is complicated; it will take more time and require an extra effort.
Improvements are already visible at a number of individual production locations, for example the introduction of a living wage at a number of factories in Turkey and Pakistan. In addition, parties and companies work together on collective projects devoted to such issues as living wage, child labour and water and chemicals.
Besides suggesting better ways to track impact in the production chain, Avance recommends improving the process of information-sharing between participating companies and parties such as NGOs, trade unions and government. Such improvements will help the parties cooperate even more closely on minimising the risk of human rights, environmental and animal welfare abuses.
The first recommendations for improving the agreement were adopted immediately this summer. There is further discussion of a possible follow-up after the agreement expires. No decision has yet been taken on this point. See Avance Impact’s entire set of recommendations and the response of the Steering Committee here.
About the Agreement
Since July 2016, a broad coalition of companies and other organisations have joined forces under the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile to prevent malpractices such as worker exploitation, animal cruelty and environmental pollution. The Agreement is facilitated by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER). The provisions of the Agreement are based on existing objectives and standards set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. A total of 89 garment and textile brands (half of the Dutch market), their representative organisations INretail, VGT and Modint, the national government of the Netherlands, trade union confederations FNV and CNV, NGOs Solidaridad, UNICEF, Arisa, the Stop Child Labour Coalition, Four Paws Netherlands, and a large number of supporting parties are participating in the Agreement.