It is not only during the crisis that joining forces with other initiatives adds a great deal of value. Already at the foundation of the Textiles Partnership it was clear that, being a national initiative in a globally networked sector, it would need to establish relations with other European and international initiatives. To this end, the Partnership has entered into 10 strategic cooperation arrangements with other initiatives since 2017. Through the international network of cooperation partners, Partnership members gain access to the expertise, instruments and contacts of other sector initiatives.
The cooperation arrangements pursue two overarching objectives. On the one hand, they are intended to support Partnership members in pursuing the Partnership’s objectives and thereby enhancing the results it achieves in producing countries. On the other, they contribute towards harmonising the sustainability requirements to be met by companies in the textile sector.
The cooperation differ depending on the partners involved, but regardless of the topic, the overarching purpose is to promote the due diligence approach at EU level and to recognise reciprocal engagement. Cooperation arrangements addressing specific topics intensify exchanges, for instance about living wages, complaints mechanisms, the use of chemicals or fibres, to name just a few. In 2020, the PST entered into two new cooperation arrangements with the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) and the Open Apparel Registry (ORA).
Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA)
The aim of the cooperation between Textiles Partnership and Organic Cotton Accelerator is to promote the availability of organic cotton and to improve the alignment of supply and demand.
Open Apparel Registry (OAR)
The Textiles Partnership supports the uniform and reliable database of the OAR and publishes an aggregated list of about 6900 production sites of 23 Partnership members.
COVID-19: Cooperation stepped up with other initiatives
The months of the pandemic have once again confirmed a big part of what the Partnership is about: the fact that challenges are better met by working together. The Textiles Partnership has therefore stepped up its exchanges with other sector initiatives, including as many as 13 multi-stakeholder initiatives and sector organisations.
At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, the group met for discussions in weekly video conferences. Particularly at the start of the pandemic, the main questions were: How should brands and retailers, traders, suppliers and producers respond in the short term to the rising number of infections? How should they react to shop closures and the massive slump in demand? What does the pandemic mean for the social and environmental conditions in the supply chain?
The initiatives also exchanged information on how governments in the producing countries were reacting to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They wrote a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling on him to uphold international labour standards. The letter was signed by 49 companies purchasing in India, including 14 Partnership members.
Joint Statement Responding responsibly to the COVID-19 crisis
In April, 13 organisations compiled a joint statement, ‘Responding responsibly to the COVID-19 crisis’. This instructs members on good purchasing practices and responsible business conduct during the pandemic.
The respective organisations also frequently offered their services to members of other multi-stakeholder initiatives in order to combine resources and support as many people as possible during the crisis. For instance, more than 200 representatives of Partnership members and other companies took part in the Partnership’s seven online seminars examining the situation in selected producing countries. Together with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), the Textiles Partnership organised webinars on dealing with job cuts and wage payments.
Letter to the Indian Government
49 companies, which purchase in India, have approached the Indian government with a joint letter. In the letter, they request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain international labour standards. 14 Members of the Textiles Partnership have also signed the letter.