German-Dutch cooperation takes sustainability in the textile sector to the next level
The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile signed a cooperation agreement. The core objective is to support companies in implementing due diligence by harmonizing sustainability requirements. In addition, member companies will work on joint projects to improve working conditions in risk areas and benefit from shared knowledge and support by both secretariats. Additionally, cooper-ation in working with local stakeholders such as producers, governments, trade unions and NGOs will increase the joint leverage.
The announcement of the strategic cooperation at the OECD Forum in Paris demonstrates the im-portance of the due diligence approach of the United Nations and the OECD for both initiatives. Their activities and tools are already based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. The agreed joint goal to align the content of both initiatives aims to broaden the market impact and thereby to increasing the influence on la-bour rights and the environment in producing countries.
Compliance with both initiatives through one step
The heart of the cooperation will be the opportunity for an associated membership, which will al-low member companies to participate in both initiatives under simplified conditions. In order to join the Dutch AGT, members of the German Textiles Partnership will have to submit a list of their pro-duction locations of direct suppliers to the Dutch secretariat. They also accept being subject to the AGT complaint mechanism for third parties. For an associated membership to the German Textiles Partnership, members of the Dutch AGT will have to publish their action plans and progress reports on the website of the German Partnership.
Dr. Juergen Janssen, Head of the Secretariat of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, highlights the need for cooperation: "With the challenges in global textile supply chains in mind, the coopera-tion between AGT and the Textiles Partnership is the proper approach in order to achieve perma-nent systemic change. On the way to joint European and international action, the alignment of sustainability requirements and tools is an important milestone."
Pierre Hupperts, Chairman of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile, adds: "The cooperation of the two existing national multi-stakeholder initiatives in the textile sector oper-ating on the European market is an important step towards strengthening our impact. It leads us on the path to create, at least on the European level, a level playing field. This is an important as-pect in making sure that Due Diligence is not an issue of competition, but rather a common denominator."
Joint event at OECD
The two initiatives declared the formalized cooperation at the joint event "Putting OECD guidance into practice - Implementing due diligence in the framework of government-backed multi-stakeholder initiatives in The Netherlands and Germany” at the OECD in Paris. Central topics of the session were the intersections of both approaches as well as joint next steps. Members of both initiatives shared their experiences and emphasized the benefits of membership in both initiatives.
Sigrid Kaag, Dutch minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: ‘Major European tex-tile companies have pressed for alignment of national textile initiatives within the EU. The The Dutch and German agreement will contribute to clear guidance for business and better results for the working conditions and lives of millions of people in the garment industry.’
Aleix Busquets Gonzalez, Global Head of External Stakeholder Engagement at C&A "C&A, as a member of both initiatives, warmly welcomes the cooperation between them. We believe that this partnership will create further synergies for member companies in implementing supply chain due diligence. It is important that fashion brands and retailers collaborate to address industry-wide sustainability issues together. We are happy to see that both initiatives have made strong commit-ment towards this new partnership."
Dr. Bernhard Felmberg, German Federal Ministry on Economic Cooperation and Development and moderator of the steering committee of the Textiles Partnership : "This cooperation contributes to implementing due diligence that is in line with the OECD Guidelines throughout the EU market. It is a continuation upon the trustful collaboration between the German and the Dutch Government that exists for years with regard to this topic."
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-actor partnership made up of companies, unions, non-governmental organizations, and standards organizations, as well as the Federal Govern-ment. The actors have united in 2014 with the aim to jointly achieve improvements alongside the entire textile supply chain. In order to achieve this, they agreed upon ambitious social and environ-mental goals. The actors are pursuing these targets practically by the means of individual measures by members and joint Partnership initiatives in the production countries. For more information, visit www.textilbuendnis.com.
Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile
A broad coalition of businesses and other organisations signed an agreement on international re-sponsible business conduct in the garment and textile sector. The aim is to improve working condi-tions, prevent pollution, and promote animal welfare in production countries. The Agreement on a Sustainable Garments and Textile Sector is a new instrument to work on the transition to sustaina-ble, responsible international production and supply chains. For more information, visit: www.internationalrbc.org/garments-textile.