Sustainable Clothing Forum Shows Promising Future of Clothing in Bangladesh – Sourcing Journal
After a three-year hiatus, the Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) organized by Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) in partnership with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) was held in Dhaka on May 10. The event brought together over 50 speakers and 20 exhibitors from over 20 countries to discuss and accelerate sustainability in the garment industry of Bangladesh, the world’s second largest garment exporter.
This was the third edition of the event, founded in 2017 by Mostafiz Uddin, managing director, owner and CEO of denim manufacturer and wash factory Denim Expert Limited. Like most events, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the conference on hiatus. The last SAF event was held in 2019, alongside the 11th annual Bangladesh Denim Expo (BDE). That year, event organizers established supply chain standards for their exhibitors for the first time, requiring them to provide proof of compliance with industry standards. Kingpins pioneered the protocol and encouraged other show organizers to implement the same standards.
“At this year’s SAF, we brought together all fashion stakeholders under one roof to accelerate the momentum of sustainability in the garment industry in Bangladesh, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic which has had an immense impact on the global apparel supply chain,” Uddin said. “This is high-level networking where it was discussed how we can turn the needle so that the lofty sustainability goals our industry talks about so often translate into concrete and meaningful action.”
Although Bangladesh has work to do in terms of workers’ rights – the International Trade Union Confederation recently named Bangladesh one of the “10 worst countries in the world for workers” – it has made significant progress on social issues with the help of development partners such as the German development agency GIZ, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Development Program and UNICEF.
BGMEA Chairman Faruque Hassan noted at this year’s SAF that the country is home to 160 LEED-certified factories – 48 of which are LEED platinum-rated – and 40 of the world’s top 100 garment factories. Another 500 factories await certification.
The BGMEA itself is focused on improving sustainability at scale and aims to adhere to the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter (UNFCCC), which provides a framework for the fashion industry to facilitate commitment to climate action. The BGMEA aims to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2030.
The forum was followed by the Bangladesh Denim Expo, where exhibitors like Officina+39, Soko Chemicals and Naveena Denim Limited showcased their latest offerings.