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Summary of the Environmental Initiative Seminar - September 2020

On 15th of September, Outcome 4 of the Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project held a webinar to discuss the preliminary findings of a mapping and analysis of environmental initiatives and tools in the garment sector in Asia. This webinar highlighted key learnings, which will be published in a publicly-available report by early 2021.

The purpose of conducting this research, which was completed through desktop research, was to broadly map the many multi-stakeholder initiatives, tools and assessment platforms have been developed and implemented throughout the supply chain. There is a great deal of diversity in these initiatives, including differences in their focus, the actors involved, who the beneficiaries are, the longevity of the activities and how they define and measure success.

The study identified 35 different initiatives, and of these, 17 were further analysed 17.

Key findings include:

  • Among the analysed initiatives, three dominant operating models each with different areas of focus, definitions of success, longevity and impact for firms in Asia were identified. The three models (in no particular order) include:
  1. Performance standards
  2. Program offerings
  3. Social dialogue/ knowledge generating

  • None of the initiatives were designed with SMEs in mind. Accordingly, the study conducted a rapid review of common barriers for SMEs in adopting eco-innovation and found the most significant barriers to include:
      1. Awareness: lack of awareness about environmental issues and their impacts as well eco-innovation options;
      2. Environmental regulatory compliance: responsibilities in complying with environmental legislation, and know-how in investing beyond compliance;
      3. Access to knowledge, skills and networks: seeing how best practice is implemented in other businesses and capacity to adapt and adopt;
      4. Access to finance: affordable and accessible;
      5. Poor infrastructure: access to water systems and waste-water filtration systems

      1. Within the three types of operating models in supporting enhanced environmental sustainability, the most prominent gaps facing SMEs include:
          1. Performance standard model: lack of internal absorptive capacity to bring in, integrate and use the performance standards in a way that develops the environmental sustainability of the firm, also lack of access due to costs associated with the model.
          2. Programme offer model: if SMEs are within the target group for the initiative they will benefit due to mix of offerings, but due to resource intensity only small number of firms benefit.
          3. Social Dialogue, Knowledge Sharing and Advocacy model: useful in sharing ‘best practice’, but limitation on who is included and considered ‘best practice’ (e.g. SMEs) and need for processes to address and moderate other issues of inclusive such as power imbalances and knowledge base.

        After presenting the initial results of the study, webinar attendees were invited to discuss the linkages between models and how each of the models could be improved.


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