Parties to Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile call for responsibility during the corona crisis

The parties to the Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) are calling on companies to comply with their international social responsibility during the corona crisis. The basic principles are to protect the income of workers in the garment and textile sector, to guarantee their health and safety, and to make the supply chain future-proof.

Garments and textile factory © Shutterstock

During a meeting with NGOs and companies in the sector, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, said that companies, consumers, and government must tackle the crisis together so as to work towards a more sustainable future.

The corona crisis is causing serious problems in many production countries. The parties to the International Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile are therefore of the opinion that purchasing companies:

  • should only implement measures in proper consultation with their partners within the supply chain;
  • should not cancel orders that have already been produced or are in production;
  • should pay for work and materials for orders that have already been produced or are in production;
  • should not stipulate discounts under the threat of cancelling orders.

Despite the crisis, the parties expect international garment and textile companies to continue to operate with due diligence. A representative at the meeting pointed out on behalf of Ms Kaag, among other things, that “International Responsible Business Conduct is crucial, and never more so than now. The UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines remain in full force and effect. The crisis is serious, but it can also help us move towards a fairer and more sustainable future. To do so, we need to improve cross-border cooperation in the field of responsible business conduct. We also need to involve consumers, because they are ultimately the ones who must support these improvements through the purchases they make. Government will support the companies by taking over the wage costs.”

Vision for the future

The RBC Agreement provides ongoing support for companies that wish to address their risks within the supply chain. For example, top management is involved in due diligence, procurement and CSR managers receive training, and financial institutions are approached about new forms of responsible financing of business activities in the garment and textile sector. All these activities contribute to the necessary shared development of a vision for the future for the sector. The ultimate goal is to tackle and remove structural deficiencies and to make garment production more sustainable and crisis-resistant. Transitioning to a new and sustainable business model requires urgent action.

Read the full statement