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BGMEA plans to create ESG Database for RMG Sector

The apex apparel body, BGMEA, has taken an initiative to develop a digital database on ESG (environment, social and governance) to help achieve its 20 sustainable strategic goals by 2030.

“An industry-wide initiative to create an ESG digital cloud-based data disclosure platform has been taken through which all BGMEA members will be disclosing their data on the platform,” said Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan.

The BGMEA president made the disclosure while speaking at a webinar on Thursday on a latest publication of the International Trade Centre (ITC), titled ‘Good practices in the global apparel industry’.

ITC Programme Officer Delphine Clement and author of the publication and Chief Executive Officer of Rajesh Bheda Consulting Dr Rajesh Bheda moderated the webinar that shed light on the apparel companies’ experiences and contributions to the publication.

They also shared their know-how and views on the best practices in the global textile and clothing sector.

The guidebook covers 28 good practices with 33 case studies along the value-chain stages of design and pre-production, production and quality, social and environmental sustainability, branding and marketing as well as institutional and sector-level good practices.

Asked, Sheikh H M Mustafiz, chairman of BGMEA standing committee on sustainability, said each of their members would provide information that would help understand their current status related to the 20 goals.

“Currently, we don’t have any specific information on how many factories have solar panels or what they are doing to achieve the target of reducing 30 per cent carbon emission by 2030,” he explained.

The digital ESG database, which is expected to be launched early 2023, will also give an idea what measures are required to achieve the 2030 targets, said Mr Mustafiz, also managing director of Cute Dress Industry Ltd.

BGMEA’ environmental goals include manufacturing half of the apparel products by using recyclable materials by 2030, and reducing energy consumption and blue water footprint by 30 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, he added.

Its social targets include 100 per cent gender equality, inclusive and decent work, and institutionalisation of skill development and creation of 6.0 million jobs by 2030.

In addition, the governance targets include achieving $100 billion export earnings and 100 per cent data reporting, and raising productivity and efficiency to 60 per cent, Mr Mustafiz added.

According to economists and experts, the prospects of Bangladesh’s exports to the EU critically depend on ESG compliance which is also prominent in the world trade and investment landscape.

Long-term sourcing decisions are made based on workplace safety, labour conditions and environmental compliance, they said.

Fashion firms and merchants are becoming more serious about the introduction of stricter environmental and ethical requirements and certifications, along with factory working conditions and workers’ safety, they observed.

With many green garment factories, Bangladesh has already taken a considerable stride forward but the RMG industry has several additional ESG challenges, such as excessive water usage, weak labour standards, and inadequate waste management, which might continue to harm export prospects unless immediate and comprehensive remedial actions are taken, they noted.

Therefore, they recommended enhancing ESG compliance to attract foreign investment and boost exports.

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