The textile industry is considered one of global importance because it provides high levels of employment, foreign exchange revenues, and products vital for human welfare. Some 300 million people are employed in the textile sector, and many of them are women. In order to develop this sector, the Textiles Committee (TC) of the Government of India and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on “Mainstreaming Sustainability & Circularity in the Textiles Sector” entered into a cooperation agreement to minimize the negative environmental impacts of the Indian Textile Industry by promoting sustainable practices where they exist and bringing into the mainstream knowledge of circular production best practices in the textile and apparel sector. In collaboration and with support from UNEP, TC will evolve campaign collaterals and campaign strategy while undertaking the campaign launch event and organizing a conference. This will help build the capacity of the textile value chain on these important aspects, along with the undertaking of the social media campaign to raise awareness of sustainability and circularity in the textile value chain (TVC).
The exchange of cooperation agreement was between Secretary of Textiles Committee Ajit B. Chavan and Head of UNEP India Country Office Atul Bagai in the presence of Secretary (Textiles) U.P. Singh. On October 7th, 2022, a one-day Stakeholders Consultation on “Sustainability in the Textile Value Chain in India” was organized in New Delhi to commemorate World Cotton Day. The Joint Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ms. Prajakta Verma, and other national and international stakeholders, including Ms. Shombi Sharp, the UN resident Coordinator in India, and UNIDO, ILO, and GIZ officials, were present during the exchange of agreements between the two parties.
It may be noted that the Textile Value Chain (TVC) plays an important role in the world economy, but at the same time, it adversely contributes to the environment. Based on current estimates, the global textile industry emits 1.20 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. Furthermore, every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is either burned or landfilled. Hence, visualizing a sustainable world becomes difficult without a sustainable fashion industry. India is a major player in the textile and apparel sectors, which is also experiencing the challenge of balancing its growth in the TVC with sustainability in the production and consumption of textiles.
Several attempts have been made in the past to attain sustainability in its value chain in order to address the issues of sustainability and circularity in the textile sector more holistically and in an institutionalized and focused manner. India has to achieve this leadership role in the sector in the environmentally conscious market. Taking note of these factors, the Textiles Committee and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have joined hands to support the textile industry, trade, and commerce in this endeavor. It has been proactively supported and guided by Ms. Prajakta Verma, Joint Secretary, Fibre, who is heading the newly created Sustainability Cell in the Ministry of Textiles.