NGOs & Leather Companies Launch Three-Year Environmental Programme in Ethiopia

Together with leather chemical supplier Stahl, Solidaridad and Dutch NGO CSR Netherlands have launched the ‘Green Tanning Initiative’ at the All African Leather Fair in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This three year programme, funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Africa Green initiative, is aimed at promoting environmental friendly leather making and creating sustainable employment in the Ethiopian leather industry. 

“Ethiopia is renowned for its livestock of 56 million and its fine leather, especially from the famed hair sheep”, says Heske Verburg, Managing Director Solidaridad Europe.

“At the same time, few European companies have established direct business relations with Ethiopia yet. We believe there is ample opportunity to build those relations and to have Ethiopia play a more significant role as supplier of leather and leather goods to the European market.”

Room for Improvement

The organizations behind the Green Tanning Initiative see a need for certain improvements in the Ethiopian leather industry as well. The programme is aimed at collaborating with Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories on different sustainable consumption and production practices.

This includes: improving the selection system for hides, developing tanning-methods using less or even no chrome, salt, water and energy, improving waste treatment and improving working conditions in the whole leather value chain.

Actions planned under the programme include training and coaching of staff at selected Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories, trade missions and matchmaking with European buyers. The initiative is currently working with a group of five European companies interested in doing business with Ethiopian leather makers, of which three are already procuring leather and leather goods there.   

Ethiopia as a Global Leader in Environmentally Friendly Leather Products

The Green Tanning Initiative is funded under the SWITCH Africa Green Initiative. The initiative was first launched in 2013 to support countries in Africa to achieve sustainable development by engaging in the transition towards an ‘inclusive green economy which generates growth, creates jobs and reduces’. The programme supports:

1) The establishment of policies, incentive structures, and instruments for green business development 

2) Private sector initiatives promoting SCP practices.

This mission is in close alignment with the Ethiopian government’s strategy to stimulate the growth and competitiveness of the Ethiopian leather industry, with the ultimate goal of becoming a global leader in the manufacturing and trading of environmentally friendly and high quality leather products.

Learn more about Solidaridad's textile programme here