The International Conference on Triangular Cooperation for Promoting Sustainable Textile Investments and Operations in Ethiopia took place on 15-16 September 2022 in Addis Ababa in a hybrid format. The conference brought together around 110 participants, including policymakers, researchers and academics, representatives from commerce and business councils, manufacturing industry managers and investors as well as staff from international brands. This conference was co-organized by GIZ and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), within the framework of the triangular cooperation project “Sustainable Textile Investment and Operation in Ethiopia”. Cooperating with the Ministry of Industry of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, this project was co-financed by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The project has been implemented since May 2020 by the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (now: Manufacturing Industry Development Institute, MIDI), the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), UNIDO and GIZ with a tentative project end in November 2022.
The conference aimed to create a platform for exchanging best ESG practices through triangular cooperation mechanisms and promoting sustainable textile investments through facilitating a conducive environment for local, Chinese, and other FDIs in Ethiopia’s textile and garment sector. In addition, the conference reinforced the Ethiopian movement for increasing industrial productivity called “Let Ethiopia Produce” and rebranding Ethiopia in the international investment and trade.
In his keynote address, His Excellency (H.E). the Minister of Industry Melaku Alebel noted that “in our path to industrialize Ethiopia, the government is committed to making the sector globally competitive and bringing the necessary structural transformation to the textile sector for a better partnership among Ethiopian textile industries, Chinese businesses, and international brands.” The Minister added, “It is timely and relevant to create a platform to exchange Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) best practices and foster a sustainable environment in the textile sector of Ethiopia.”
In his welcome speech, H.E. Mr. Zhao Zhiyuan, Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, noted that “China always attaches great importance to the cooperation with Ethiopia’s textile sector, and consistently supports and contributes to the sustainable development of Ethiopia’s textile and garment industries.” The Ambassador emphasized that China also hopes that the Ethiopian Government will continue to prioritize the creation of a better investment environment and that China looks forward to strengthening collaboration with Ethiopia.
Mr. Heiko Nitzschke, Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Head of Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ethiopia, emphasized in his opening remarks that “Germany is a strong promoter of sustainability standards in the global economy which help protect people and the environment”. One example of Germany turning supply chains more sustainable is the triangular cooperation project “Sustainable Textile Investment and Operation in Ethiopia”, which recently completed a training series conducted by CNTAC and the “China Africa Advisory.” The training covered Ethiopian ESG social topics, e.g., freedom of association, collective bargaining, labour discipline, internal communication, grievance mechanisms, labour relations, labour conditions, as well as environmental topics, e.g., water resources management, wastewater disposal, waste and chemical management, energy management and carbon emissions.
With the completion of the training series, this triangular cooperation project has successfully achieved its main milestones, including the development of a Baseline Survey Report: Environmental, Social and Governance Performance of Textile and Apparel Enterprises in Ethiopia, the organization of the ESG capacity trainings mentioned above and the development of an ESG knowledge hub, which was launched at this conference.
Taking this triangular cooperation project as a starting point, this international conference stimulated constructive discussions about the necessity for the Ethiopian textile sector to further improve ESG solutions in the industry. Moreover, inputs from varied sectors on this event served as a solid evidence that triangular cooperation promoted by German development cooperation is on the right track to deliver concrete results, through partnership and mutual learning, to increase awareness of sustainability and raise sustainability standards in the Ethiopian textile industry.