Around 150 participants came to Hamburg for the 8th Members' Meeting of the Textiles Partnership. They exchanged views, discussed and developed ideas for joint projects. Because "it is not enough to set ambitious goals, it is important to implement them," emphasised Reiner Hoffmann, former Chair of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) and now working for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as an SDG ambassador for good work worldwide.
The focus of the event was the new concept "Partnership 2023", which the steering committee adopted in September. Representing the entire steering committee, Claudia Kersten (GOTS), Frank Zach (DGB), Anke Oppermann (BMZ), Prof. Dr. Tobias Wollermann (Otto Group) and Berndt Hinzmann (INKOTA) answered the members' questions - among others on our focus topics and on internationalisation.
In workshops, members addressed the four focus topics: Living Wages and Purchasing Practices, Circular Economy and Climate, Gender Equality, and Grievance Mechanisms and Remedies.
In the afternoon, Brigitte Zietlow from the German Environment Agency (UBA) gave an input on "The EU Textile Strategy- future challenges and commitments".
Reiner Hoffmann: "It has to reach the places and people where the need is."
For Reiner Hoffmann, the members' meeting was one of his first official acts as SDG ambassador for good work worldwide. The former DGB President made it clear that the impact of activities on the ground must reach the producing countries:
"What we decide here in Europe is one thing. But it is important that it reaches the people. Globalisation, as we have experienced it in recent decades, has led to prosperity - but it is unequally distributed. To achieve social justice, it is crucial that basic labour standards are respected in the countries from which we source our products."
Hoffmann also addressed the four focus topics. From a trade union perspective, living wages are central. Worldwide, the fundamental human right of freedom of association and organisation is violated every day. It is also good that the Textiles Partnership is committed to the focus topic of gender equality for the many women who suffer particularly from poor working and living conditions in the textile industry.
"Circular economy is much more than recycling strategy, it is about life cycle assessments, new products. Longevity, new business models. We must have an interest in not losing sight of economic sustainability and business competitiveness. In Europe, we have reached a level playing field. This is far from being the case internationally," says Hoffmann.
Bärbel Kofler: "We have to make progress together".
Dr Bärbel Kofler addressed the members from Berlin. The Parliamentary State Secretary at Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) underlined:
„The goals of the Textiles Partnership remain relevant and forward-looking. The Partnership aims to identify the biggest social, environmental and compliance risks and design concrete solutions. And it offers companies the chance to advance their sustainability management and to cooperate with other actors. Together, you all contribute to improving production conditions worldwide."
Kofler states that a lot has changed, but the Partnership is moving with the times and developing further: "The new orientation with the focus topics offers enormous potential. Different stakeholder groups can cooperate even more closely in the future, they can pool resources, their know-how and their networks. In this way, they can implement projects on the ground even more efficiently and achieve even more impact."
She concluded her greetings with an appeal to the members: "Only a socially just and sustainable textile industry is a sustainable textile industry. We must make progress together. Therefore, use the Textiles Partnership and continue to actively shape it!"
Farewell to Frank Zach
Frank Zach from the DGB is a Textiles Partnership bedrock. He has accompanied the Partnership since its founding and participated in 38 meetings of the steering committee, in which 253 decisions were made. He moderated the last 19 meetings. After eight years of joint work, Frank Zach said goodbye at the general meeting:
"The Textiles Partnership is weighty, has already survived several governments and is regularly consulted by various stakeholders. Many thanks to my fellow campaigners in the Steering Committee and to the Partnership Secretariat. I wish all of you in the Textiles Partnership strength and willingness to engage in dialogue - show this to the outside world as well!"
Protocols and Documentation
Members can find the protocols of the sessions, recordings and other documents in the Textiles Partnership members' portal .