Cascale Hosts First Manufacturer Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh

March 18, 2024

Cascale (formerly the Sustainable Apparel Coalition) hosted its first Manufacturer Forum of 2024 — and first under the new name — on March 6 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The sold-out event for 240 attendees reflected the theme “Catalyst for Change,” and underscored the pivotal role of manufacturers to set and achieve goals that are transforming the consumer goods industry. Manufacturers – who are on the front lines of critical action – connected with business leaders and stakeholders to discuss the future of sustainability, supply chain compliance, verification, policy alignment, and more.

“Through Cascale, we create community spaces for constructive dialogue, co-created solutions, and shared learning opportunities, driving collective action across the value chain,” said Andrew Martin, executive vice president at Cascale, in the opening address. “Bangladesh is at the heart of the work we do in the apparel industry. It is a place where we have seen great progress, yet a country we know understands there is so much to do. You are well aware of the challenges we all still face, yet you have an ability to embrace innovation, you have demonstrated true engagement and collaboration, and we believe you share our commitment to driving change through collective action at scale.”

After Martin’s welcome, attendees enjoyed an opening keynote from Nishat Hamid, executive director, Shasha Denim, director, Shasha Garments and EOS Textile Mills, and SDG Standing Committee Member at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about Cascale’s newly launched Manufacturer Climate Action Program (MCAP) and the Climate Leadership Program (CLP) from the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), at a panel co-hosted by Dr. Joyce Tsoi, senior director of the Decarbonization Program at Cascale, and Dr. Laxmikant Jawale, regional lead, South Asia and Southeast Asia, Apparel Impact Institute (Aii). The two discussed how the MCAP and CLP complement each other to drive emissions reductions, as part of a collective effort to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Kickstarting the next session, Elisabeth von Reitzenstein, senior director of Public Affairs at Cascale, introduced the public affairs team and provided insights into key legislative developments on the European level and globally. She outlined what manufacturers must anticipate upon their release. Following this, Reitzenstein was  joined by Dr. Vidhura Ralapanawe, executive vice president, Epic Group and a Cascale board director, for a fireside chat designed to discuss these evolving regulations and how Cascale can assist manufacturers to navigate the associated obligations for them.

Next up was a deep dive into the evolution from Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) 3.0 to 4.0. Cascale’s Angela Ng, director of Higg Facility Tools hosted the session alongside; Deepak Kashyap, senior manager of Higg Facility Tools; Demith Gooneratne, senior manager of Higg Facility Tools, Mustafain Munir, director, CYCLO Recycled Fibers, and Spandon Kumer Roy, environmental sustainability manager, Primark. Then Ng hosted an in-depth exploration of the evolving landscape of sustainability verification within the industry, and Kashyap and Gooneratne co-hosted a Higg FEM 4.0 Workshop, designed to equip participants with practical skills and insights crucial for successful Higg FEM self-assessment and verification.

In the afternoon, Tsoi returned to deliver a science-based target training to over 110 participants. The training was designed to empower participants with essential knowledge and skills for developing greenhouse gas inventory, calculating emissions, and setting impactful science-based targets (SBTs). Attendees also learned about the main decarbonization strategies and actions to achieve decarbonization goals. Representatives from the Project Development Programme (PDP), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Sadia Raisa Khan, advisor & country Representative, and Zia Uddin Jewel, advisor and country representative were invited to share their learnings and solutions that would support manufacturers to achieve decarbonizations. They shared that the electricity generation mix is largely dominated by fossil fuels such as gas, and heavy fuel oil, only 4 percent of the electricity mix is from renewable energy sources which mainly come from solar and hydropower. Khan and Jewel laid out the possible decarbonization solutions including energy efficiency interventions, more efficient technology upgrades for heat pumps, compressors, motors, and waste heat.olar PV is the most feasible and proven technology for implementation in Bangladesh, per the experts. They also shared their scope of activities in terms of project development for the mentioned solutions and their ongoing collaboration with Cascale for rooftop solar project development in Bangladesh’s textile sector.

Finally, attendees participated in a workshop on empowering workers and ensuring equity in Bangladeshi manufacturing. The workshop included deep dives into region-specific data insights, health and safety standards, and strategies local manufacturers, trade unions and service providers are leveraging to elevate workers’ voices in Bangladesh. Speakers included Cascale’s Ng and Orine Dsouza, senior manager of Higg Facility Tools; Arindama Banerjee, associate director, client services/responsible sourcing at ELEVATE – An LRQA Company, the industry leader in sustainability and supply chain services globally; Ashwini Via, CEO of Floreal Bangladesh; Fartheeba Rahat Khan, consultant – worker engagement specialist at Ulula; Amb. Hans Docter, special representative for due diligence innovation at Fair Wear; Jayanth Kashyap B., investment lead at Good Fashion Fund; Khalid Hossain, partnership lead at Denim Experts Ltd., Raisul Islam Khan, project coordinator at IndustriAll Global Union, Samira Saidi, investment advisor at Good Fashion Fund; and Urtty Majumder, support lead, Bangladesh, at the Social & Labor Convergence Program.

In 2023, Cascale announced the return of its Manufacturer Forums after a hiatus of in-person events amid the pandemic. Since then, Cascale held its July forum in Shenzhen, China followed by Bangalore, India in December. Manufacturer Forum: Dhaka was sponsored by Worldly, the leader in environmental and social impact data capture and analytics for the apparel and footwear industry, and the exclusive platform for Cascale’s Higg Index suite of tools. Events like the Manufacturer Forum: Dhaka are critical to driving equitable and restorative business practices related to Cascale’s three core pillars: Combat Climate Change, Decent Work for All, and Nature Positive Future.

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