German-Dutch cooperation takes sustainability in the textile sector

German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Textiles and Garment announce strategic cooperation

The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles signed a cooperation agreement. The core objective is to support companies in implementing due diligence by harmonizing sustainability requirements. In addition, member companies will work on joint projects to improve working conditions in risk areas and benefit from shared knowledge and support by both secretariats. Additionally, cooper-ation in working with local stakeholders such as producers, governments, trade unions and NGOs will increase the joint leverage.

The announcement of the strategic cooperation at the OECD Forum in Paris demonstrates the im-portance of the due diligence approach of the United Nations and the OECD for both initiatives. Their activities and tools are already based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. The agreed joint goal to align the content of both initiatives aims to broaden the market impact and thereby to increasing the influence on la-bour rights and the environment in producing countries.

Compliance with both initiatives through one step
The heart of the cooperation will be the opportunity for an associated membership, which will al-low member companies to participate in both initiatives under simplified conditions. In order to join the Dutch AGT, members of the German Textiles Partnership will have to submit a list of their pro-duction locations of direct suppliers to the Dutch secretariat. They also accept being subject to the AGT complaint mechanism for third parties. For an associated membership to the German Textiles Partnership, members of the Dutch AGT will have to publish their action plans and progress reports on the website of the German Partnership.

Dr. Juergen Janssen, Head of the Secretariat of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, highlights the need for cooperation: “With the challenges in global supply chains in mind, national initiatives can provide good transitional solutions. However, in order to achieve durable systematic changes we need collaborative international efforts. An alignment of sustainability requirements at the Eu-ropean level is an important milestone.”

Pierre Hupperts, Chairman of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textile, adds: “The cooperation of the two existing national multi-stakeholder initiatives in the textile sector oper-ating on the European market is an important step towards strengthening our impact. It leads us on the path to create, at least on the European level, a level playing field. This is an important as-pect in making sure that Due Diligence is not an issue of competition, but rather a common denominator. “

Joint event at OECD
The two initiatives declared the formalized cooperation at the joint event “Putting OECD guidance into practice – Implementing due diligence in the framework of government-backed multi-stakeholder initiatives in The Netherlands and Germany” at the OECD in Paris. Central topics of the session were the intersections of both approaches as well as joint next steps. Members of both initiatives shared their experiences and emphasized the benefits of membership in both initiatives.

Additional quotes

Dr. Bernhard Felmberg, German Federal Ministry on Economic Cooperation and Development and moderator of the steering committee of the Textiles Partnership: „This cooperation contributes to implementing due diligence that is in line with the OECD Guidelines throughout the EU market. It is a continuation upon the trustful collaboration between the German and the Dutch Government that exists for years with regard to this topic.“

Sigrid Kaag, Dutch minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: “Major European textile companies have pressed for alignment of national textile initiatives within the EU. The Dutch and German agreement will contribute to clear guidance for business and better results for the working conditions and lives of millions of people in the garment industry.”

Aleix Busquets Gonzalez, Global Head of External Stakeholder Engagement at C&A: “C&A, as a member of both initiatives, warmly welcomes the cooperation between them. We believe that this partnership will create further synergies for member companies in implementing supply chain due diligence. It is important that fashion brands and retailers collaborate to address industry-wide sustainability issues together. We are happy to see that both initiatives have made strong commitment towards this new partnership.”

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
T +49 228 4460-3560

Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textile
Marieke Ruijgrok, press officer: +31 (0)6 29230262,

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-actor partnership made up of companies, unions, non-governmental organizations, and standards organizations, as well as the Federal Govern-ment. The actors have united in 2014 with the aim to jointly achieve improvements alongside the entire textile supply chain. In order to achieve this, they agreed upon ambitious social and environ-mental goals. The actors are pursuing these targets practically by the means of individual measures by members and joint Partnership initiatives in the production countries. For more information, visit

Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textile
A broad coalition of businesses and other organisations signed an agreement on international re-sponsible business conduct in the garment and textile sector. The aim is to improve working condi-tions, prevent pollution, and promote animal welfare in production countries. The Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector is a new instrument to work on the transition to sustaina-ble, responsible international production and supply chains. For more information, visit:

Members publish their individual action plans

Members publish their individual action plans | ©GIZ Anne KathrinMohr extern (Auftraggeber-GIZ)

A large number of members has consented to disclose their roadmaps for 2017. Publication of individual objectives is still voluntary. As of 2018 the yearly publication becomes obligatory.

For Fairness and Environmental Protection – commencing in 2017, the Members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles are Implementing Concrete Social and Ecological Improvements

For Fairness and Environmental Protection – commencing in 2017, the Members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles are Implementing Concrete Social and Ecological Improvements | © GIZ

(28 July 2017, Berlin) On the road to better working conditions, increased environmental protection and fairer living wages, the members of the Textiles Partnership have made a decisive step forward: 129 members handed in tangible action plans for 2017, amongst them 87 members from the German textile industry. This means that 50 percent of the German textile retail industry is verifiably committed to improving working conditions and to furthering environmental protection. Progress is checked by external experts on a yearly basis.

For 2017, Partnership members have resolved to implement more than 1.500 measures which – in the frame of the Partnership’s goals – will lead to concrete improvements. The measures relate to topics such as living wages, the fight against child labor, avoidance of harmful chemicals or the sustainable water usage in cotton cultivation.

“129 binding action plans for more environmental protection and social justice – with this, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is following a new path,” announced the Steering Committee of the Partnership yesterday.

“All members who are part of this success know how challenging the work in the past weeks and months was. The result at hand shows: The Textiles Partnership produces very tangible improvements in the textile supply chain,” stresses the moderator of the Steering Committee, Dr. Bernhard Felmberg from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Partnership is subject to the principle of binding procedural obligations: joining the Partnership is voluntary – handing in action plans is mandatory. Since the end of 2016 about 40 members have left the Partnership for this reason, or they have been expelled for failure to hand in an action plan.

At the moment, the Partnership has 148 members: this figure also includes advisory members, who do not have to provide measure plans, as well as new members, who are obliged to generate action plans only in the coming year. Individual measures are oriented alongside key questions in the areas of “Chemicals and Environmental Management”, “Social Standards and Living Wages” as well as “Sustainable Natural Fibres”. The key questions have been jointly devised by the different actor groups throughout the last year. The verbalization and implementation of measures in all three areas is mandatory for members.

More than 80 percent of the members have fulfilled these requirements straightaway. Roughly 20 percent of the delivered action plans are not meeting requirements to the full extent – for example, because specific business models cannot be depicted fully in the existing classification. However, these also include action plans of members who are very progressive in some areas of sustainability, so that the requirement to verbalize ambitious goals cannot be fulfilled. For the director of the Partnership Secretariat, Dr. Jürgen Janssen, this points to expected needs for revision: “The requirements that have been jointly elaborated by the different actor groups have been tested for their practicability for the first time in 2017. Thus, the Textiles Partnership is a learning system. On behalf of the Steering Committee the Specialist Working Groups have already started with the further development of the requirements.”

The progress in implementing the goals is monitored yearly by external experts. “By doing this, members of the Textiles Partnership create a snow ball effect: every year the goals become more ambitious and every year members implement a variety of improvements along the entire amplitude of the supply chain”, explains Jürgen Janssen.

Starting from 2018 the publication of action plans is mandatory. This year, already more than 30 members have consented to voluntary disclosure. From next week on, the publications will be made available on the newly designed website of the Partnership at



Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
Press contact
T +49 228 4460-3484


The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles:

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-actor partnership made up of companies, unions, non-governmental organizations, and standards organizations, as well as the Federal Government. The actors have united in 2014 with the aim to jointly establish improvements alongside the entire textile supply chain. In order to achieve this, they agreed upon ambitious social and ecological goals. The actors are pursuing these targets practically by the means of individual measures by members and joint Partnership initiatives in the production countries.


Indicators and Key Questions for the Formulation of Individual Roadmaps

Indicators and Key Questions for the Formulation of Individual Roadmaps | ©Textilbündnis_Dr.K.Dobersalske_06_extern-klein

The three Specialist Working Groups on Social Standards and Living Wages, Chemicals and Environmental Management, and Natural Fibres have defined key questions and indicators which serve as foundation of the review process and as aid for members in assessing their initial position. Based on their individual initial position all members are obliged to devise an individual roadmap and submit it to the Partnership Secretariat. To help members with this, the Partnership Secretariat provides the Textile Partnership Performance Tool (TexPerT). As of next year, disclosure of roadmaps is mandatory.

Click below to view key questions and indicators, ordered by stakeholder group:

What is better now than it was 3 years ago?

Interview with Dr. Jürgen Janssen: What is better now than it was 3 years ago? | gemeinfrei
Interview mit Dr. Jürgen Janssen, Leiter Bündnissekretariat | © GIZ

Dr. Jürgen Janssen, Director Partnership Secretariat

Dr. Jürgen Janssen: Many things. For the first time, the crucial societal groups are working together to make the textile sector fairer and more environmental-friendly. Economy, politics, civil society and unions are learning from each other, they optimize processes and business practices of companies here in Germany and they are working on specific problems in production countries that none of the actor groups would be able to solve alone. This triad is a first!

The roughly 150 members have handed in their annual plans for the first time this year. With this, they committed to individual goals. This makes 150x improvements: – in business practices, in the education of workers or also in the management of hazardous chemicals.


Isn’t this process way too slow?

Janssen: I, too, wish for an everything-will-be-fine-key which would resolve all problems in the textile sector immediately. But unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. A multi-stakeholder approach is surely not the fastest way, but in my view the most effective and, above all, the most sustainable. Of course, every beginning is difficult: to negotiate common goals, to tie down criteria no one needs to hide behind, but which everyone can go along with, to develop a mechanism for the verbalization and verification of goals that is both ambitious and feasible – for all members and types of companies –, these are mammoth tasks. Therefore, the first run for the formulation of the annual plans is naturally a learning process. In the following years, the processes are going to be smoother and the steps in the right direction will be bigger and more visible.

But what is actually getting through to the seamstress?

Janssen: That cannot be answered in a general way. The textile supply chain is complex and changes are not immediately entering all ramifications. But: what we are now setting in motion with the Textiles Partnership thousandfold, is passed on wavelike to the overall system and will bring about noticeable improvements for all in the long run. In addition to the structural change of the overall system, which is indeed going to take some time, the Textiles Partnership also created the lever of Partnership Initiatives: here, several Partnership members address particular problems in the production countries instantly.

Would it not be easier to just raise the price for a t-shirt to solve the problem?

Janssen: I’m afraid not. It’s a structural problem that again is connected to the complexity of the supply chain. Especially when it comes to fashion wear, production costs are only a small fraction of the final price. You need to add design, advertisement, expenses for base materials, transport costs and taxes, middlemen and, last but not least, expenses for sales and marketing in Germany. Therefore, the price of a t-shirt is unfortunately also not a good indicator for social and ecological production. Credible seals are offering good indicators for this, but increasingly there is also good information by the brand manufacturers and trading houses which are reporting in a transparent way on origin, conditions of production and their activities. The Textiles Partnership is going to publish the first annual plans of its members starting from July 2017. This is also an important step towards a socially and ecologically fairer textile production.


The interview with Dr. Jürgen Janssen in its original version in German can also be found at

Decision in the Textiles Partnership: Implementation of Partnership Goals Starts in 2017

Decision in the Textiles Partnership: Implementation of Partnership Goals Starts in 2017

Following intensive negotiations, the Steering Committee of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has reached an agreement on the next steps for the implementation of the Partnership’s goals by the members. With this, the committee is following the recommendations of the Specialist Working Groups. In 2016, almost 300 experts have been struggling to reach consensus on the requirements for the implementation of the Partnership goals in 2017. All members are going to hand in their individual goals until the beginning of 2017, the first examination of advancements is going to take place in 2018.

The three Specialist Working Groups Chemicals and Environmental Management, Natural Fibres as well as Social Standards and Living Wages have developed key questions and indicators and merged them into an overall process. Likewise, in the Specialist Working Groups all actor groups of the Textiles Partnership are also represented. In the coming year, the Specialist Working Groups are going to specify and further develop existing goals and implementation requirements. Previous experiences are considered in the future process and are going to make sure that there is continuous improvement.

Milestone Set – Textiles Partnership Embarks on the Next Leg

Textilbündnis, Members’ Meeting 2016 | © GIZ

The Members’ Meeting on November 22nd and 23rd, 2016, is groundbreaking and the official starting signal for the next steps in the Textiles Partnership. Every member will be starting the new year with a concrete action plan. The measures are binding and will be verified externally. This way, progress is made transparent and verifiable. Thus, the Partnership comes a lot closer to its goal to achieve more sustainability in the textile supply chain – for example, by enforcing living wages, better work safety or avoidance of toxic chemicals.

Where do we want to go? Where do we stand? How do we move forward? These questions will be answered by the so-called “review process” which has been developed by the Textiles Partnership this year to monitor its own progress. In order to determine their departure point, all members have to answer key questions until the end of January 2017 – for example, regarding the usage of natural fibres, the utilization of chemicals or the promotion of living wages in production facilities. On this basis, Partnership members are going to verbalize individual goals and will begin with the implementation in the coming months. As support for this process, a specifically developed IT-tool will be launched during the Members’ Meeting. 2017 is very much geared towards implementation. In the following year, members are going to report on to what extent they have achieved their roadmap goals. Furthermore, all have consented to an external evaluation by an independent service provider.