Seventy-five signatures endorse Dutch sustainable textile agreement

05 July 2016

The Dutch Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector was signed by Solidaridad and a broad coalition of 57 textile brands and retailers, plus their representative organizations, trade unions, four other civil society organisations and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. Together, the participating businesses represent more than a third of the revenue generated in the Dutch textile market (3.5 billion euros). The aim is that at least 50% of the sector signs by 2018, and 80% by 2020. The Netherlands is the first country to embark on the transition to a sustainable garment and textile sector in this manner.

Dutch Minister Ploumen (middle) with Tamar Hoek of Solidaridad Europe and other endorsers of the agreement. 

Tamar Hoek, programme manager textile for Solidaridad Europe, said: "After more than a year of preparations and intensive talks with all stakeholders in the Netherlands we are now happy to see so many companies signing this Agreement. Together and united we have better chances to improve the textile production for the Dutch market in the countries of origin." 

Wide scope

The parties have agreed to work together when producing garments and textiles in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Turkey and Ethiopia. The aim is to prevent discrimination, child labour and forced labour, but also to promote the right to collective bargaining by independent trade unions, improve living wages, create healthy and safe working conditions, and to reduce the negative environmental impact of raw materials production. Additional goals are to prevent animal suffering, to use less water, energy and chemicals, and to produce less chemical waste and waste water. Dutch consumers will gradually have access to fairer, more sustainable garments and textiles. A growing number of shops will be able to meet consumer demands for fair and sustainable garments and textiles.

Alignment in the chain

Tamar Hoek applauds the willingness to cooperate but also warns for the difficulties that lie ahead:

"We see many good initiatives by many actors in the long production chain. There is a clear need to align all these different initiatives and take action. The Solidaridad Network is based in some of the main producing regions of the world and has a lot of expertise in how to align the stakeholders in the chain. This knowledge and experience can help us to make the goals of the covenant come true."

Cooperation

The participants will work together on achieving sustainability targets that would be difficult or impossible to achieve alone. The businesses involved will draw up an annual action plan identifying specific goals. Their plan will be based on an investigation of problems and risks among their own suppliers and in their own production and supply chain. An independent secretariat, that will be based at the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), will assess the quality and ambitions of these improvement plans. Unions and civil society organizations that are participating in the agreement will offer their knowledge and expertise and involve local partners in implementing the plans. The Dutch government wishes to make agreements with local or national authorities in sourcing countries, for example about strengthening their health and safety inspectorates. To scale up the agreement to the EU level , the Dutch government will also collaborate with other countries that have comparable initiatives.

Openness

Every year, the parties that have signed the agreement will report on their relevant activities and on the progress they have made. Ultimately, in the third year of their participation, the individual businesses will communicate their activities and progress to the public.

The full list of participants of the Agreement can be found on the SER website.

The full agreement can be downloaded here

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