In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) along the textile value chain have in particular been impacted by the global economic recession. Supporting SMEs to become more resilient, competitive and environmentally friendly is central to the regional EU-funded SwitchMed Programme. In this context, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with the ZDHC Foundation, have organized webinars for Moroccan and Tunisian SMEs from the textile and garment industry to increase awareness on chemical and wastewater management.
Between 15 June and 17 July 2020, the webinars will virtually bring together 77 industry professionals from 17 SMEs to introduce practices to phase out hazardous chemicals from the textile, apparel and leather value chain. The webinars are part of a series of training events organized under the MED TEST III project, a UNIDO-led SwitchMed project that focuses on transforming the textile value chain in Morocco and Tunisia to become more circular and environmental. A second series of webinars together with the ZDHC Foundations’ Academy will be launched in September this year.
“Working with UNIDO on building regional capacity to implement a hazardous chemicals phase-out in local textile value chains does help us accelerate the process. It also helps to ensure more actors along the value chain can receive the training,” comments Mariella Noto, Implementation Senior Manager at the ZDHC Foundation’s Implementation Hub. “This process allows both small and large production facilities along the supply chain to gain the necessary know-how. That will eventually improve their ability to produce more sustainably, and thereby meet the expectations of ZDHC brand contributors and other brands alike.”
A growing demand for sustainably produced textile and garment products, in combination with the disruption of markets and supply chains caused by the outcomes of COVID-19, has compelled international brands to evaluate the environmental performance of their supply chains and set ambitious targets for their sourcing. Production stoppages and order cancellations for whole collections are currently endangering the future for businesses in the supply chain. Disruptions in the textile value chain is also of major concern for the global brands, as this can jeopardize the speedy recovery of production and sales after the COVID-19 crisis.
“Following the impact this pandemic has had on the textile and garment market, it is in particular important for Tunisia to become among the most attractive suppliers for European brands, which will review the distribution of their positioning in the various markets,” says Nejib Karafi, Director General for the Tunisian Federation of Textiles and Clothing (FTTH).
“Providing SMEs with concrete tools that can give them a competitive advantage, reduce emissions and also save costs, can become decisive in shaping the future for SMEs in the post-COVID recovery of the textile and apparel sector,” claims UNIDO Project Manager Carolina Gonzalez.
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