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29th November 2017, New Delhi

GOTS conference draws conclusions on social compliance

Prominent players from field of social compliance gathered at the GOTS Pre-Conference to 19th Organic World Congress and discussed shaping a future landscape for textile supply chains earlier this month in New Delhi, India.

Organised by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), this conference was first of its kind, solely focused on theme Social Compliance Issues in the Organic Textile Supply Chain. It was attended by more than 85 high profile attendees from twelve countries, including CSR Managers of brands, HR representatives, certification bodies, standard setters, government, NGOs and other stakeholders.

Audience. © GOTS

“The GOTS Pre-conference offered an important opportunity for supply chain actors, scholars, and sustainability advocates to discuss the most challenging problems and important opportunities in sustainability certifications for textile manufacturers. Perhaps most importantly, there was a robust discussion about the value of offering living wages to factory workers,” said Dr Elisabeth Bennett, Assistant Professor of International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR, US.

Outcomes

Summing up, Herbert Ladwig, Managing Director, GOTS, informed delegates that GOTS will put forth outcomes of this conference to the 19th Organic World Congress (OWC). He suggested the following as major outcomes of the conference:

  • Social criteria in sustainability standards help improving working conditions. Improve standards with measurable criteria and keep inspection/ certification as a diagnostic tool.
  • In addition, or – if possible – in combination find and apply suitable aspirational approaches and tools.
  • Find and apply efficient means to draw the big brands and retailers into utilising their responsibility for sustainability of the textile industry.

Overview of social compliances

The first session was moderated by Herbert Ladwig. Katto-Andrighetto, from IFOAM- Organics International, Germany, informed the delegates about history of social standards, including ethical trade standards of Soil Association, UK, which is one of the founders of GOTS. She also mentioned that since year 2005, fairness has been included in the IFOAM Principles of Organic Agriculture as one of the four principles. She also called upon international stakeholders to work on issues of living wages, fair pricing and land grabbing together with IFOAM.

Herbert Ladwig, Managing Director, GOTS. © GOTS

Dr Bennett, from Lewis & Clark College, USA, emphasised the importance of social criteria in voluntary standards. She suggested that improving wages is the key to improving income equality both within countries and globally.

Challenges in social compliance

The second session was moderated by Christopher Stopes, GOTS Representative in UK. Dr Sandhya Barge, Global Living Wage Coalition, India, provided a definition for a living wage and spoke about the Anker Methodology for calculating living wage benchmarks.

Simon Ferrigno, UK, spoke on the burning issue of land grabbing. Simon noted that this problem is not specific to organic fibres or cotton cultivation. His talk showcased the importance of due diligence and gave some positive examples like OECD, Global Reporting Initiative, French corporate governance law, UK Modern Slavery Act, etc.

Christopher Stopes, GOTS Representative in UK, Dr Sandhya Barge, Global Living Wage Coalition, India, Simon Ferrigno, UK, and Syam Sundar, ICEA, India. © GOTS

Syam Sundar, ICEA, India, spoke on Dealing with Non-Compliances in Social Aspects, which was aimed at discussing challenges faced by certifiers, working in field of social audits.

Beyond certification

The next session was moderated by Rahul Bhajekar, Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance, GOTS. Tim Zahn, NGO Coordinator in the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Germany, and Avedis Seferian, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), USA, debated the topic Is Certification Outdated?.

In the discussions that followed this debate, some common ground was noted such as the need for long term commitments within the supply chains; using constructive criticism for improvement; collaborations and encouraging trust in the partners.

Rahul Bhajekar, Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance, GOTS, Tim Zahn, NGO Coordinator in the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Germany, Avedis Seferian, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), USA, Devhuti Bakshi, Trident Limited, India, and Saurabh Gupta, AEON Commercial Pvt Ltd, India. © GOTS

The second part of the session was a panel discussion on Initiatives Beyond Certification for Social Compliances in Textile Supply Chain. The panellists were Devhuti Bakshi, Trident Limited, India, and Saurabh Gupta, AEON Commercial Pvt Ltd, India.

www.global-standard.org

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