ILO & UNIDO - Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs: taking stock of the situation in the Albanian textile and footwear industries
A joint contribution of the ILO and UNIDO
The European Governments and the United Nations are working together to support a rules-based international order, with the United Nations being the leading organization. In this regards, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a common framework for their planned activities.
From the side of the European Union, Member States such as Sweden are already engaging in global partnerships (SDG 17) to promote the SDGs and support green development and employment in the candidate states like Albania by focusing on SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and others.
The number of companies aligning their corporate strategies with the SDGs is also increasing, but still at a slow pace. This general statement is also applicable to Albanian industries, namely the textile and footwear businesses. Large companies are leading the way in using the SDGs as a reference to evaluate their activities. As suppliers represent the bulk of the environmental footprint of a company, the selection of materials and the manufacturing stage in the value chain becomes the largest contributor to emissions and pollution from any textile or apparel product.
Therefore, suppliers are in an important position to advance the SDGs, specifically by complying with the principles of responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). Suppliers are also well-positioned to contribute to product and process innovation in the textile and footwear value chains. This is because cooperation between brands and their suppliers has the potential to accelerate solutions for many sustainability challenges within this type of industry.
Here, the initiative TextilesforSDG has identified the following priority areas :
- Optimize resource management, use sustainable raw materials and environmentally friendly production processes
- Deploy tested management approaches to enable operational efficiencies and innovation
- Use the context of digitalization and automatization from Industry 4.0
- Take advantage of resources that consolidate best practices with regards to chemical and wastewater management and safety
- Use renewable energy
- Encourage a shift towards circular business models within the supply chain
An overview of the actual application of SDGs and ESG-relevant practices in the textile and footwear sectors is being prepared by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the framework of the Business Partnerships and Solutions for Sustainable Development Goals (BPS4SDGs) Project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). In this sense, a survey of 50 companies was initiated. Some of the preliminary findings include:
- By participating in the survey and the project activities, in general, the questioned companies wanted to improve their image and add value to their brand. Cost efficiency, energy efficiency, and the improvement of their reputation for workers were also important.
- There is a slow increase of awareness towards the environmental aspects of their sector (here, more environmentally related activities are required). The suppliers´ clients played essential role in putting pressure and in applying the same standards to the Albanian companies as they would in their country of origin.
- A lack of knowledge and awareness could be observed when it came to the rules and procedures about the management of chemicals and waste, not only among the companies working in this field but also among different stakeholders in the public administration.
The results of this survey will be provided in a joint stocktaking paper of the ILO and UNIDO, which will be discussed at a Validation Roundtable. This event will be organized on the occasion of the Swedish Culture Week at Maritim Hotel Plaza in Tirana on 15 September 2022. A draft Zero Roadmap of potential actions to ensure the further uptake of SDGs and ESGs practices in Albania will be presented to the stakeholders at the consultations to be organized as part of UN Week 2022 from 24-30 October as the next step of the BPS4SDGs project.
In parallel, possible Albanian champions in the textile and footwear sectors have been identified for working on Resource efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) assessments to optimize the use of energy and water, whilst improving chemical management and maintenance practices, among others. UNIDO will make use of these experiences to build the capacity of their staff while coaching a cadre of ten RECP national trainers. In turn, the RECP trainers will be introduced to the effective tools for environmental management and continuous improvement and innovation. The RECP training, assessment and coaching programme run by UNIDO will start in online format on the 7th of September 2022.
 Environmental, Social and Governance
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- * The project "Business Partnerships and Solutions for SDGs" is a UN joint project implemented by UNDP (lead), FAO, ILO and UNIDO and funded by the Government of Sweden through Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).