Water-saving initiative launched in Vietnam textile sector

brett mathews | 3rd December 2018

HANOI – WWF and Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) have launched a project to boost water management and sustainable energy use in Vietnam’s textile sector. The initiative will engage multiple players in the sector to promote better river basin governance and contribute to water quality improvement.

The main focus of the project is to improve water and energy sustainability within the sector, thereby reducing its impacts to the environment. The project will also work with textile–apparel manufacturers to encourage them to be more active river stewards, practice sustainable energy planning and discuss collective actions to achieve long term sustainable investments and development in the textile-apparel sector.

One important target of the project is influencing Vietnamese textile investors to implement more sustainable practices. The Chinese textile investors who have in the past increased their foreign direct investment in Vietnam’s textile –apparel sector will engage in the project and share their own lessons.

The textile and apparel industry contributes 15 per cent of Vietnam’s total export value and has an annual growth rate of 12 per cent between 2010 and 2017. The country has 6,000 factories nationwide and employs three million people.

“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. “That is why this project is so important and timely.”

The project will be implemented from 2018 to 2020 with a vision to transform the textile-apparel sector in Vietnam. It will achieve this through engaging the industry and influencing environmental governance in order to bring social, economic, and conservation benefits to the country. Geographically, the project will focus on the Mekong and Dong Nai deltas where more than half of Vietnam’s apparel factories are located.

The project is implemented by WWF in collaboration with VITAS. Key stakeholders in the project include international brands with suppliers in Vietnam, factories around the country, in particular in the Mekong and Dong Nai delta in areas around Ho Chi Minh City, financial institutions, development partners and other relevant initiatives. Other partners include stakeholders outside Vietnam such as China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC).

The project is part of the “Driving impact reduction through the textiles value chain” project sponsored by HSBC to support the green textile industry in China, India and Vietnam.