Promotion of sustainable energy practices in the garment sector in Cambodia
Increasing competitiveness and decreasing environmental impact through sustainable production in the Cambodian garment industry.
Context and challenges
The Cambodia’s garment industry is the backbone of the country’s export-driven economy and the industrial sector’s largest employer. The sector is expanding, and this is reflected in its growing energy demand, with total final consumption increasing by about 11% between 2010 and 2015.
According to the draft Energy Efficiency (EE) Policy, steep growth has led to the doubling of GHG emissions from energy consumption in the sector between 2002 and 2012. The predominant use of unsustainable, non-traceable cheap fuelwood in the factories of Cambodian garment suppliers contributes to the country’s rapid forest depletion and further exacerbates the sector’s ecological footprint.
As of today, Geres estimates that 70% of the wood burnt by garment factories comes from natural forests – mainly from illegal harvesting and questionable land clearing practices.
Objectives and solutions
Therefore, since 2016, GERES has worked on solutions to support low-carbon development by industries in Cambodia by tackling the barriers towards a switch to sustainable biomass energy supply for thermal energy generation, with a focus on the garment manufacturing sectors. In 2019 Geres completed a study to assess the technical and economic feasibility to operate a switch towards sustainable biomass fuels for H&M suppliers.
However, many challenges are to be addressed such as the inadequate regulatory environment to incentivize private investment in sustainable energy practices; the lack of appropriate dedicated technical and financial services and the low demand from the garment industry for sustainable energy solutions. In particular, the latter is caused by several factors such as:
- A low level of awareness within factories of existing energy-efficient and cleaner energy solutions
- A lack of understanding of the methodologies used to calculate energy savings
- Lack of coordinated strategy among brands on environmental requirement.
In order to address the above challenges, Geres has partnered with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia to implement a joint project with the aim to increase investments in sustainable energy practices by garment factories in Cambodia.
The project is funded through European Union’s SWITCH Asia programme and aims to achieve the following:
- Relevant government institutions initiate a series of regulatory measures to incentivize private investment in sustainable energy practices.
- Institutional arrangements and capacities are developed for adoption of enforcement measures and improve data availability supporting the sector’s switch to sustainable energy practices.
- Garment factories have access to a range of appropriate technical and financial services including a risk reduced repayment mechanism to support their switch towards sustainable energy practices.
- Awareness is raised and demand for appropriate technologies and advisory services for sustainable energy practices increases among value chain stakeholders.
Geres leads operations in this area, by facilitating energy audits conducted by external auditors in selected garment factories, demonstrating the potential benefits of adopting more sustainable energy practices, informing interested manufacturers about appropriate technology solutions, providing technical assistance and developing appropriate training.
We also rally international brands sourcing from Cambodia to take coordinated action towards sustainable production in their supply chain.
- GGGI (Global Green Growth Institute)
- GMAC (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia)
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