25 January 2020
For Sustainable Development
BGMEA held its second monthly session on Green Growth. While paradoxically prices have fallen, the industry has continued going green. BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq moderated the session. The session started with the presentation on Green Growth of Bangladesh RMG Industry. The presentation focused on global trend of sustainability and fashion, impact of the fashion industry on environment, Bangladesh RMG industry’s strides toward sustainability, BGMEA’s activities in the area of environmental sustainability, factory best green practices, green finance and strategic planning to move forward.

The presentation was followed by group discussions. Discussants divided into four groups to ideate on how to take the following conversations to the next level. The groups were: 1) Green Community, 2) Capacity Development and/Home Grown Solution, 3) Green Project, and 4) Green Financing. The discussion was a vibrant discourse between government, industry, brand, development partners, think tanks and diplomats. Key points from the discussions are as follows:
Identifying cluster would be the first initiative for green community development. For example, 15-20 clusters can be identified only in Gazipur area. Clusters might be identified in the factory neighborhoods. The procedure of cluster mapping was raised as the next question. WARPO and UN agencies can help BGMEA with their knowledge and tools in this activity. BGMEA would circulate a general email which would act as a quick survey for cluster mapping and identifying areas where support is needed. For example, education, housing, etc. After identifying the cluster, Green Ambassadors and champions will be declared; then BGMEA can urge the government to help the community adjacent to factories.

In Bangladesh Water Rules 2018, a roadmap for water stewardship is proposed. This roadmap is designed as Integrated Water Management system to reach the grassroot level. The tool developed for this mapping has been used by business community in developed countries for sustainable business.

Green factory owners can be declared as Green Ambassadors and they will be recognized. The workers from green factories do not maintain a green livelihood. If green factory owners can motivate their workers to adapt green practices and declare them Green Champions. Green ambassadors can work for low costhousing, better education etc. for the worker community. BGMEA can urge to government to help the community to adjacent to factories for their better livelihood.
 Identification of cluster
 Quick survey of factory neighborhoods
 Mapping of workers livelihood
 Form a league of Green Ambassadors (Green Factory Owners) and Green Champion (Green Factory Workers)
 Ask for government’s support in the next fiscal budget
A full functional environment cell with adequate resources and knowledge needs to be set up in BGMEA. A platform or center could be established where environmental professional can communicate for troubleshooting regarding ETP, HVAC systems, environment management systems, energy management systems etc. BGMEA could have energy auditors in their expert panel who can contribute in upcoming energy audits, energy rating of equipment net metering requirements etc. A ‘Community of Excellence’ can also be set up instead of a center. One center could not have expertise on all the topics. If a community was developed, they can help the sector on required solutions. It could mobilize the sector with the association of international expertise.
Awareness building activities can be an effective tool to encourage green solutions in the sector. Center like ‘Women Café’ could help raising among workers on environmental topics and ecological challenges as these are cross cutting issue. Survey and mapping green activities had already been initiated by BGMEA. A questionnaire had been prepared by BGMEA and distribute among the members. 35 factories have been participated in this survey so far. BGMEA has been getting support from UNDP and GRI in these activities.

Success stories of green factories, like Cute Dress Industry Ltd. could be showcased. Cute Dresses Limited is a factory of 600 workers and they have achieved LEED Platinum certificate they have showed innovative activities in water recycling, energy efficient cooler, indoor water quality monitoring devices and many more. It’s an empirical evidence of how a garment factory can be small yet sustainable. If such initiatives should be encouraged and incentivized, more factories would come toward to have own green solutions.
 Establish and strengthen BGMEA environment cell
 Organize awareness raising programs
 Encourage and survey factories on best available practices
 Incentivizing factories for adopting best available green practices
Concern over the upcoming hundred economic zones, how these zones will be going to affect natural resources was expressed by the development partners. Formulation of a regulatory framework to protect natural resources like ground water was proposed by them. Interest expressed by development partners and government representatives to support the readymade garments and textile sector regarding home grown solutions health, people, environment.
Innovative business models, for example, third party service providers for private to private power selling; projects on circular economy; effluent treatment plant (ETP) management; waste management; sludge management; zero liquid discharge (ZLD) system etc., which may not be suitable for many existing factories. But such business models can be introduced to factories which could be set up in special economic zones like Mirsarai. Since it is very difficult to achieve zero discharge goals by 2030; vast, inclusive targets and home-grown solutions are needed to meet this international demand.
There is no international convention regarding environment unlike labor standards. There is a competition between standards and initiatives in this sector. If Bangladesh could have its own standard, apparel industry does not need to follow standards or initiatives imposed to them. Readymade garments and textile mills community can upgrade by redefine and formulate their own standards.
 Showcasing business case of a factory on environmental activities
 Revisiting the existing standards by developing Bangladeshi Standards
 Identify the need of home-grown solutions
 Strengthening Environment component of RSC (RMG sustainability Council)
 Innovative business models, for example, business to business power sell; third party of business solution providers for circular economy projects, effluent treatment plant (ETP) management, waste management, sludge management, zero liquid discharge (ZLD) system etc. for the upcoming special economic zones in Mirsarai.
The discussion on green financing started with the question, whether there is lack of finance or lack of capacity to access the finance? All the participants agreed to the statement that there is no lack of finance but there is definitely lack of capacity to access the available finance. Funds like Global Climate Fund (GCF) comes with a very strict due diligence which is very difficult for SMEs to access due to lack of capacity and knowledge. Green Transformation Fund (GTF) from Bangladesh Bank was poorly utilized due to same reason. Accesses to the available green finance are easier for big enterprises but then again the interest rate (6%-9%) is not helping them to offset the initial risk to be feasible, the interest rates are not set based on the ROI of different environment friendly technologies. The due diligence framework could be revisited so that the SMEs can get access to the green finances. From the discussion the challenges identified were lack of concessional fund, stricter due diligence, reluctances of the financial institutes to understand the worthiness of such finance. The experience of borrower of available green funds and mindset of financiers should be collated and studied. All the available green finance schemes should be mapped and the criteria to access need to be identified as well. Lead of this mapping activities can be taken by BGMEA as the leading trade association of Bangladesh in collaboration with other stakeholders. A pressure group or working group can also be formed by BGMEA for flexible requirements of the green funds.
Another important topic arisen from this discussion that self-assessment of resource consumption could be done by factories. So that they can identify the areas they need support. An insurance mechanism should be established so that resource efficient technology provider would guarantee the factory owners on resource saving made from adopting that technology.
 Industry mapping to identify problems of factories in availing green finance
 Revisit fund requirements and make it more inclusive for SMEs
 Search for Government support as guarantor for SMEs to avail Green Finance
 Guarantee or Insurance of resource efficiency technology from the provider
 Formation of working group regarding green financing
BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq recommends forming four working groups based on the discussion of the session. All the stakeholders would be virtually connected via Google Drive to share their views and opinions. Dr. Rubana Huq ended the session saying there would be upcoming sessions on innovations and green finance.
1. Winnie Estrup Petersen, The Ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh
2. Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO
3. Jeremy Opritesco, Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of EU to Bangladesh
4. Chiara Vidussi, Attaché, Delegation of EU to Bangladesh
5. Mercy MiyangTembon ,Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, World Bank
6. Sanjeev Dua, Vice President, Global Manufacturing and Sourcing, Ralph Lauren
7. Taufiqul Islam, Director, Water Resources Planning Organization,
8. Syed Nazmul Ahsan, Director, DoE
9. Arch. Nafees Rahman, HBRI &Former Deputy Director, SREDA
10. Md. Shahan Reza, Country Relation Manager, Bangladesh, BluesignTechnologies
11. Nishat Chowdhury, Program Manager, PaCT, IFC,
12. Linda Germanis, UNDP
13. Rebecca Peters, Oxford University
14. Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director, CPD
15. Dr. Nurun Nahar, Deputy Chief, Programming Division, Bangladesh Planning Commission
16. Werner Lange, Coordinator of Textile Cluster, GIZ
17. Dr. Mohammed Abed Hossain, Professor, IWFM, BUET
18. Dr. Sebastian Groh, Managing Director, ME Solshare Ltd.
19. Farhtheeba Rahat Khan, Team Leader, RMG Program, SNV Netherland Development Organization
20. Jamal Uddin, Inclusive Business Advisor, SNV Netherland Development Organization
21. Mosleh Uddin, Unit Head, GCF, IDCOL
22. Faisal Rabbi, GIZ
23. Md. Mahady Hassan, 2030 WRG, World Bank
24. Judith Herbertson, Head, DFID Bangladesh
25. Ms. Tanuja Bhattacharjee, Energy Specialist, World Bank
1. Dr. Rubana Huq, President, BGMEA
2. Mr. Arshad Jamal (Dipu), Vice President, BGMEA
3. Mr. Miran Ali, Director, BGMEA
4. Mr. Md. Kamruzzaman Jewel, Chairman, Standing Committee, Subcontracting
5. Md. Abdul Jalil, Member, Chairman, Standing Committee, Floor Price and cost Review
6. Mr. Asif Ashraf, Managing Director, Urmi Group
7. Mr. Mijanur Rahman, Chairman, Standing Committee, Branding BGMEA
8. Mr. Khan Monirul Alam (Shuvo), Chairman, Standing Committee, PR
9. Mr. Wasim Zakaria, Chairman, Standing committee, RDTI and SDGs Affairs