Supporting Sustainability and the Environment in Bangladesh's Textile and Leather Sector

Bangladesh’s ready-made garment and textile sector has been growing continuously over last two decades. Today, it is the world’s second-largest manufacturing hub for textile-garments. In this way, the sector has significantly contributed to Bangladesh’s economic and societal development. At the same time, the textile sector in Bangladesh is classified as a “red category” industry under the country's environmental legislation due to its potential negative impact on the environment. Some of the major environmental challenges associated with the textile industry in Bangladesh are water pollution due to inappropriate dumping of untreated effluents, water scarcity due to excessive use of fresh groundwater, air pollution, and contamination of soil due to improper disposal of waste are. Addressing these environmental challenges in a sustainable manner requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders within the industry, as well as a conducive environmental governance framework. With the support of various development partners, the relevant environmental authorities are undertaking efforts to adapt the governance framework to the rapidly growing textile sector. Efforts are also being made to address regulatory gaps as well as organisational capacity needs, towards stronger sector-specific regulatory support, implementation and monitoring. 

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is also working in this direction, cooperating with public and private sector partners in Bangladesh as part of the German government-supported initiative to Promote Sustainability in the Textile and Leather Sector in Bangladesh (STILE). The objective of these activities is, among others, to support the Department of Environment (DoE) in introducing improved environmental regulatory and governance tools, as well as laying the foundation for a possible comprehensive reorganisation process of the environmental agency. These measures are intended to contribute to the DoE's efforts to improve its own capabilities to carry out implementation and monitoring tasks. With regard to the unique requirements of the textile sector, the goal is to translate environmental legislation into sector-specific guidelines and clarify the possible implementation of a “Seville Process” adapted to the conditions in Bangladesh as a driver for more environmentally friendly practices in the textile industry.

Together with its partner in Bangladesh, Reed Consulting, adelphi supports the STILE initiative in assessing and addressing the underlying capacity-building needs, initiating reorganisation processes, and moderating a multi-stakeholder dialogue. These activities aim at laying the groundwork for a comprehensive organisational development process for the country’s Department of Environment as well as supporting the DoE in introducing improved environmental regulatory and governance instruments.