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HANOI – WWF and the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) have launched a project aimed at boosting environmentally sustainability in the Vietnamese textile sector. The initiative aims to encourage players in the domestic textile sector to promote better river basin governance, water quality improvement and sustainable energy use. The project is sponsored by HSBC as part of the ‘Driving impact reduction through the textiles value chain’ to support the green textile industry in China, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam.

As one of Vietnam’s most economically important sectors, the textile and apparel industry contributes 15 per cent of its total export value, with 6,000 factories and over three million employees.

However, the textile and apparel sector can have significant impacts on water resources and greenhouse emissions, and there has been a determination by authorities in the country not to go down the same route as China, where pollution was allowed to go unchecked for decades.

Moreover, as the industry continues to grow, authorities have recognised changes will be required to reduce these impacts. “Vietnam ranks as the fifth largest exporter of apparel goods in the world, but our industry is more famous for low cost production with limited environmental standards. With customers worldwide now more conscious about the environment, this is forcing a lot of global brands to change their operations to include higher environmental and social standards. If we do not change our practice now, Vietnam could lose its competitiveness,” said Mr. Vu Duc Giang, chairman of VITAS.

The project will be implemented from 2018 to 2020 and has a vision of transforming the textile and apparel sector in Vietnam. Its main focus is to improve water and energy sustainability. It will also work with textile and apparel manufacturers to encourage them to practise sustainable energy planning and collaboration in order to achieve long term sustainable investments in the textile and apparel sector.

An important part of the project is encouraging Vietnamese textile investors to carry out more sustainable practices. “For WWF, greening the textile sector in Vietnam is also a means to achieve our wider goal of addressing river governance and energy sustainability, which are top global environmental concerns. In the long run we want to see factories, industrial parks and other actors come together to take more proactive collective actions to address risks and impacts beyond their factory fences and more responsibly manage shared resource uses across-sectors,” said Marc Goichot from WWF-Greater Mekong. “With more than 10 years of working with the textile industries of top exporting countries as Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan, WWF believes that we can help Vietnam to create a big positive change for the sector.”

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