By admin       2018-09-17

Desk Report (RMG Times) Fixing the fashion sector’s problems has the potential to lift more people out of poverty globally than any other industry, Fairtrade Foundation’s Cotton and Textiles expert Subindu Garkhel will tell delegates at an inaugural multi-stakeholder convention this week. As the second largest employer in the developing world after agriculture, the behemoth textile and clothing industry has the power to evolve into a positive agent for change. The International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards, organized by the UN Forum on Sustainability Standards and the Quality Council of India, will run from 17-18 September 2018. The conference will attempt to find practical solutions to some of the fashion industry’s biggest issues by tackling topics on international trade, innovations in sustainable global value chains, and sustainability standard settings, as well as government policies and multi-stakeholder frameworks for sustainable trade and exploring how the industry can leverage, trade, global value chains, standards and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The textiles session will focus in on how the industry can use multi-stakeholder sectoral initiatives and responsible sourcing decisions such as the Fairtrade standards for seed cotton or textiles in apparel value chains to help prevent environmental pollution and socially unacceptable practices such as child labour, excessive overtime, and non-payment of legal minimum wages at various stages of garment manufacturing. Governments, brands and retailers, suppliers and consumers all have a responsibility to do their bit to protect the people who make the clothes we love, whose voices too often go unheard. As many as 75 million people work to make our clothes and 80% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 35. Without sector-wide collaboration, countless cotton farmers, spinners, weavers dyers, sewers and others will continue to face daily exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, working in unsafe and dirty conditions with very little pay, Subindu will remind delegates. The sector is a race to the bottom where businesses easily switch their orders for a few cents and move to countries where workers’ wages are low and their awareness about their rights low. We are also seeing how US subsidies worth millions for cotton farmers are once again threatening to distort global markets, with devastating consequences for small-scale cotton farmers in less powerful nations who are already facing every daily challenges such as the impact of climate change, poor prices for seed cotton, through to poor terms of trade. Whilst the US has reformed its regime following a WTO challenge brought by Brazil, subsidies are under debate again with the passage of a new and contentious US Farm Bill. Although world cotton production is dominated by China, India and the US, cotton is vital for the survival of many low-income countries in Central and West Asia and Africa such as Benin and Burkino Faso. She will remind that governments also have a vital role to play to create a step change for the fashion industry through the right policies and its implementation.

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