About this agreement

Many businesses in the Netherlands have outsourced their production to countries outside the European Union. These are countries where human rights, worker health and safety, environmental protection and animal rights may be at risk.

Dutch companies are obliged to avoid these risks under international guidelines and agreements such as the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the ILO’s fundamental labour standards. Under the OECD Guidelines, for example, businesses must investigate the extent to which they could be implicated in human rights, environmental or animal welfare violations. This is known as due diligence.

Problems in emerging markets in the developing world are often so complex that there is very little one company can achieve alone. That is why a broad coalition of partners has signed the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile. They include industry associations, trade unions, NGOs, and the National Government of the Netherlands.

Commitment

The businesses and organisations that sign the agreement commit themselves to fighting discrimination, child labour and forced labour. They also undertake to support a living wage, health and safety standards for workers, and the right of independent trade unions to negotiate. In addition, they will do everything in their power to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment, to prevent animal abuse, to reduce the amount of water, energy and chemicals that they use, and to produce less chemical waste and waste water.

Transparency is a critical factor when it comes to identifying risks and working together to make improvements. One of the first steps was for the participating companies to share their production sites, an aggregated list of which has been made available. They also agreed on the project method.

Results

The aim is for at least 50% of the Dutch garment and textile sector to support the agreement by 2018, and 80% by 2021. We intend to see an improvement in working conditions and/or wages in textile-producing businesses as well as in animal welfare and environmental protection. More and more garments and textiles will be produced under better and safer conditions, and a growing number of shops will be able to meet the consumer demand for fair and sustainable products.

Download the agreement

 

 

Involved in the IRBC agreement

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