Around 150 participants gathered in Berlin on 11 October 2017.
The Members’ Meeting began with some welcoming remarks by Dr Felmberg. In his address, he underlined the successes of the Partnership and highlighted the milestones that have already been achieved, despite the challenges faced. On the basis of the annual report for 2016-2017, the Partnership Secretariat gave a detailed insight into the results of the Partnership’s work and the lessons it has learned. The Steering Committee and the Partnership Secretariat then fielded questions from the Partnership’s members. A web-tool was used to help draw up a whole host of questions, not all of which could be answered – a summary of all of the questions and answers will be available shortly in the members area. In the afternoon, Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), welcomed those members present. In his speech, he set out the reasons why your commitment to the Textiles Partnership is worthwhile. In four parallel workshops, participants were then given the opportunity to discuss various issues and to draw up possible joint courses of action.
Workshop 1: Understanding and implementing duties of care – an introduction to the due diligence process
Following a brief introduction to the restructured question grid for 2018, workshop 1 focused on how companies implement their duty of care in practice. Using four case studies on the supply chain and procurement, participants discussed and devised solutions and shared information regarding their own experiences and instruments.
Workshop 2: Getting to know your chain – Implementing supply chain transparency in practice
Knowing one’s own supply chain is essential for managing sustainability effectively. Following a theoretical overview by Professor Freise from Reutlingen University, we heard from two of our members – 3Freunde and H&M – on how they approach the issue of supply chain transparency in practice. Using the ‘Dutch Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector’ as an example, discussions were also held on whether, and in what form, the Textiles Partnership should continue to deal with supply chain transparency in future. Many of the participants were in favour of adopting a similar approach to that of the Dutch textiles covenant, but instead building on existing systems. The participants also stressed repeatedly that supply chain transparency was not an end in itself but a deciding factor in how the data which is collected will be used further.
Workshop 3: Vocational training in the textile industry– combining challenge and motivation
The workshop began with a presentation of the approaches used for vocational education and training in the textile sector in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. In keeping with the various approaches, four cornerstones to a Partnership Initiative on vocational education and training in the textile sector were drawn up: (1) Promoting awareness of intercultural challenges and involving vulnerable groups; (2) Developing a uniform training programme with standardised courses, taking into account basic education in schools; (3) Promoting the business case through needs-oriented training; and (4) Focusing on the dual system of education through theoretical and practical course units, work placements and exchange programmes.
Workshop 4: Fair play in the textile sector – Opportunities for preventing corruption
The ‘Fair play in the textile sector’ workshop looked at ways of preventing corruption along textile delivery chains. Using specific challenges – including corruption among government labour inspectorates in Cambodia – potential approaches to finding solutions were discussed together with experts, namely Florian Lair (Allianz für Integrität – AfIn) and Thorben Glaser (KfW Group). It became clear that corruption, as a ‘problem of collective action’ (Lair) requires corresponding ‘collective solutions’, which is why the discussion focused on the possibility of joint action by members of the Partnership, for example as part of a Partnership Initiative. A set of guidelines entitled ‘Corruption in the Delivery Chain’ is currently being developed by a group of experts comprising Partnership members and AfIn-affiliated enterprises. The aim is for the publication, scheduled for December, to incorporate and set out in greater detail the ideas generated by the discussion.
A keynote speech on challenges and existing approaches for the payment of higher wages served as an introduction to the panel debate entitled ‘Living wages – Do we just need to pay more?’ Together with the Partnership members, those taking part in the panel debate then discussed ways in which the Textiles Partnership can do more in future to promote the payment of living wages. The debate highlighted the individual responsibility of each and every Partnership member and stressed the importance of collective approaches with a broad-based impact.
In the evening, Barbara Meier, BMZ’s textile ambassador, was available for a brief interview, followed by a photo campaign with members. Pictures from the Members’ Meeting can be viewed here. Documentation from the Members’ Meeting can be found here.
Don’t forget to also read the other articles in this newsletter