Broad coalition supports agreement on sustainable clothing and textile

Solidaridad is pleased with the extensive support from the Dutch business sector, trade unions, the national government and civil society organizations for the new sustainable clothing and textile agreement. It is a great opportunity to change the face of textile production using a collective approach.

Collective responsibility and approach

Chief negotiator on behalf of Solidaridad, Marieke Weerdesteijn, said, “This is a big step towards a firm supply chain approach. All of the tricky issues have been discussed and included in the agreement. This is a strong collective approach that strives for a joint strategy where needed instead of making only the corporate sector responsible for solutions. When a sufficient number of Dutch companies participate and concrete results become visible, this strategy can set the pace internationally.”

Ongoing improvement is the objective

In 2015 and 2016, the parties involved held in-depth discussions on the structural problems in the clothing and textile sector, possible solutions and an effective approach. For participating companies, the first step is to examine their supply chains in terms of living and working conditions, environmental pollution and waste of raw materials such as water, energy and chemicals. Next, an improvement plan is drawn up that includes concrete goals and input from various parties where necessary. Ongoing improvement is the objective. This renders the question of whether a company is a leader in sustainability less relevant. For all companies, it is the initial situation that determines whether they make progress.

The entire supply chain is the focus of study and extensive attention is paid to social and economic as well as environmental conditions. This way, when planning improvements, the biggest risks can be anticipated and solutions can be applied effectively and efficiently. For Solidaridad, this agreement is a great opportunity to put its considerable experience with sustainable cotton and textile production to use, and together with the signing companies and parties, achieve additional concrete results in production countries such as China, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali and India. – Marieke Weerdesteijn, Solidaridad Programme Manager for Textiles

Effective and efficient solutions

The broad coalition comprises industry organizations VGT, Modint and Inretail, the trade unions FNV and CNV, the national government and the civil society organizations Solidaridad, UNICEF Nederland, Landelijke India Werkgroep, Coalitie Stop Kinderarbeid and Stichting Vier Voeters.

They have agreed to work together on the following issues in clothing and textile production:

  • protection against discrimination
  • protection against child labour
  • protection against forced labour
  • meaningful dialogue with independent worker representatives
  • achieving a living wage
  • safe conditions and a healthier environment for workers
  • reducing adverse environmental impact by saving on raw materials and realizing a circular economy
  • reducing water, energy and chemical consumption; reducing the amount of chemical waste and waste water
  • preventing cruelty to animals

You can find the complete sustainable clothing and textile agreement on the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) website.