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Climate Change and Global Value Chains in the Garment and Textile Industries: A Multidimensional Project Launched with Focus on Europe and Bangladesh

December 5, 20210

The Project “Climate Change and Global Value Chains in the Garment and Textile Industries of Europe and Bangladesh” was launched online on 15 November 2021, where Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), BRAC University (BRACU) (hereinafter CED-BRACU) is partnered with three (3) Danish universities: Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Aalborg University, and Roskilde University. The project (Jul 2021 – Jun 2025) is being undertaken in collaboration between the universities where private sector partners include the Joint Ethical Trading Initiatives (Denmark, UK, Norway, and Bangladesh) and Danish Fashion & Textile.

The main research objective of the project is to bridge the gap of the global value chain and climate change analysis, with the objective to substantially increase the ability of PhD scholars, junior, and senior researchers in Bangladesh. This research and capacity building project will investigate how the garment/textile value chains connecting Europe/Bangladesh are being reconfigured in response to climate change. The project aims is to create insights into the actors pushing for decarbonization and value chain resilience efforts in the garment/textile industries of Europe/Bangladesh; the drivers behind their engagement; the scope of their practices, experimentation, and collaboration; and the consequences for economic, social, and environmental upgrading in Bangladesh. The major policy and dissemination objective is to heighten awareness amongst policymakers and practitioners in Europe and Bangladesh about the challenges and policy solutions.

In this launching webinar, project partners introduced this new research and research capacity building project that investigates how the European garment and textile industries are being reconfigured in response to climate change. Funding for the project is granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by the Danida Fellowship Center at Copenhagen, Denmark (“DFC”).

Peter Lund-Thomsen (CBS), Professor Dr. Rahim B. Talukdar (CED-BRACU), Mohammad Bakhtiar Rana (Aalborg University Business School), and Lone Riisgaard (Roskilde University) introduced the project and outline some of the key challenges related to addressing climate change in the garment and textile industries in Bangladesh and Europe from a variety of academic perspectives.

Being one of the project partners, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) of BRAC University, under the supervision of Professor Dr Rahim B Talukdar, Adviser, CED-BRACU, will coordinate the Bangladesh part of the project in consultations with other partners. It will facilitate the project’s research activities using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods.

Three (3) PhD students, to be hosted by CED-BRACU and supervised by the supervisors of three Danish universities, will collect data from various RMG factories in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Chittagong districts of Bangladesh and from different stakeholders of the global RMG supply chain. The PhD students will be enrolled in Danish Universities meeting their requirements, but will take some courses at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This will also be facilitated by CED-BRACU.

In the project launch, the introductory speech was provided by Professor Peter Lund-Thomsen PhD, Professor of Copenhagen Business School (CBS). Professor Dr Talukdar, on behalf of CED-BRACU, made remarks on how CED-BRACU is digitally mapping all the export-oriented RMG factories in Bangladesh through a project titled “Mapped in Bangladesh” (MiB) to enable transparency, accountability and appropriate decision making in the RMG sector. He noted that at present the digital map (MiB) is publishing significant information of RMG factories that are exporting at least 80% of their products, but there is a plan in future to publish the information of the factories contributing to below 80% export in a separate map.

CED-BRACU’s nationwide RMG factory mapping tool and digital repository, i.e. MiB’s data would help the Danida-project by selecting appropriate factories from different areas in Bangladesh, and for contacting the factory managements for helping the research team during the field visits and other relevant activities. CED-BRACU will provide the necessary support for the area selection and for corresponding with the factory management for data collection.

With pertinent data from MiB, CED-BRACU believes that it can contribute adequately to the project goals and objectives related to climate change and global value chains in Europe and Bangladesh. Since CED-BRACU has a huge database of RMG factories from all over the country with additional significant data points beyond its published data on MiB, relevant customized data can also be provided as and when required by the new project.

Followed by Dr. Talukdar, Dr. Mohammad Bakhtiar Rana, Associate Professor, International Business, Aalborg University Business School and Dr. Lone Riisgaard, Associate Professor, International Development Studies, Roskilde University introduced themselves with a brief on their research interest.

Abil Amin (Country Manager, ETI Bangladesh) discussed the opportunities of and challenges to climate change mitigation and adaptation in these industries from practitioner perspectives followed by a Q&A from the webinar participants. He shared practitioner perspectives where he mentioned the Mapped in Bangladesh project being implemented by CED-BRACU as a great initiative. He identified three issues of the RMG sector that usually climate-related studies miss to address. These are workers’ voices, gender lens, and situation of lower- tier factories.

There was a vibrant discussion based on the questions raised by the participants.

Dr. Rana also made remarks on the third-tier factories. According to him, these factories usually remain out of the radar of buyers and others who do not have the resources to detect these factories. Dr. Rana also asked Dr. Talukdar whether it is possible to share the information of RMG factories of Mapped in Bangladesh in an excel format. Dr. Talukdar answered that currently the project is updating all the information from RMG factories and information will be shared when the updating is complete.

There was also a question from Ms. Mahreen Mamoon, Assistant Professor, BRAC Business School, who asked whether the PhD studentships are open to all Bangladeshis. Dr. Lone Riisgaard replied that the PhD positions are open to all Bangladeshi while Dr. Rana mentioned that PhD vacancies have been advertised in BDjobs by CED-BRACU.

After the break, Rachel Alexander, Visiting Researcher, CBS presented results from climate change and garment/textile value chain mapping. Along with this presentation, Dr. Talukdar showed an audio-visual presentation on how the digital map of MiB can support the project with its verified and validated database of export-oriented RMG factories. He showed how the RMG factories are color-coded and cluster wise located in different regions of Bangladesh and how the digital map can be used to detect those factories. The MiB data are unique and reliable as these have been collected, verified and validated through a rigorous process by a strong technical team. The digital map can be viewed here:

Finally, the UK, Danish, and Norwegian Ethical Trading initiatives briefly highlighted the important aspects of their works in this area and mention possible next steps for the research and involving priorities for the project, and possibilities for getting involved were discussed by Beverley Hall (UK-Ethical Trading Initiative), Sarah Dieckmann (Danish Ethical Trading Initiative), and Marthe Røssaak (Ethical Trade Norway), among others.

Project details can be found here: Climate Change and Global Value Chains in Bangladesh

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