SWITCH Garment supports Cambodia’s COVID-19 recovery
Cambodia’s garment industry has suffered from the global economic slowdown, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Geres and its partners have been working hard to help the sector recover. 19 garment factories had already signed up to meet the sustainability challenge by mid-March 2021. State of play.
With falls in orders from developed markets, on average workers lost 30% of their incomes following COVID-19, with an estimated 150,000 garment workers losing their jobs.
This sector is vital for the Cambodian economy employing, before the crisis, 960,000 people and is Cambodia’s largest export sector. The SWITCH Garment project, which will increase the competitiveness of the garment sector to international brands by increasing the industry’s sustainability, aims to re-address this problem. The partners have been working hard in 2021 to help the sector turn around.
Since December 2020, the SWITCH garment consortium, made up of Geres, the Global Green Growth Institute and the Garment Manufacturing Association of Cambodia visited factories throughout Cambodia.
19 Cambodian garment factories already committed to sustainable energy
These visits were well received, and by mid-March 2021 19 garment factories have signed up for the first phase, beating our first target of 16 factories. These factories then provided energy data ahead of the forthcoming audits. In addition, Geres conducted initial introductory training sessions on sustainable energy and audit preparation for all signed up factories.
These training actions are taken in partnership with the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia, along with its subsidiary, the Cambodia Garment Training Institute. This ensures that beyond the lifetime of the project, there will be an institution able to train on sustainable energy in Cambodia.
SWITCH Garment has also been engaging brands, and has conducted interviews to better understand their needs with 10 brands.
A first conference organised with H&M and Adidas
In addition, the SWITCH Garment consortium participated in a conference with Adidas and H&M on renewable energy for the garment sector in Cambodia. These brands highlighted the increasing importance they attach to sustainability, and that adopting sustainable energy practices in Cambodia, represents a huge opportunity to grow the sector.
Going forward, the Switch Garment partners will work with 50 factories on improving sustainability. The consortium also aims to increase investments in the sector, as well as to improve the policy environment.
The project is supported by the SWITCH Asia grant programme of the European Union.
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