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Climate change may impact $65 billion apparel export earnings by 2030: Study


A recent study conducted by Cornell University and Schroders, in collaboration with Mapped in Bangladesh (MiB) and Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) Global Labor Institute (GLI), sheds light on the severe impact of climate change on apparel production hubs, particularly in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Vietnam. 

Titled ‘Climate Resilience and Fashion's Costs of Adaptation, the research unveils alarming projections: by 2030, these regions could suffer a loss of approximately $65 billion in export earnings and close to one million jobs due to climate-induced disruptions such as extreme heat and flooding.

Presenting the study's findings at an event in Dhaka, Jason Judd, Executive Director, GLI, emphasised the necessity for investors to engage with apparel companies and stakeholders. He stressed on the importance of addressing the current gap in risk management strategies, which often neglect adaptation measures crucial for mitigating climate-related risks.

The study delves into the supply chain footprint of six global apparel brands, revealing the profound impact of extreme weather conditions on workers and manufacturers. It highlights the urgent need for social protection mechanisms and climate adaptation finance to safeguard the livelihoods of apparel workers and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

Judd underscored the need for establishing social protection mechanisms and securing climate adaptation finance to shield apparel workers from the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, he called for a collective response, including global and national bargaining, to confront the challenges faced by the apparel sector.

Afshana Choudhury, Lead Operations Officer, MiB, emphasised on the significance of the study's policy implications in navigating the challenges posed by climate change in the fashion industry. 

In the ensuing panel discussion, panelists provided diverse perspectives on the implications of the study for the Bangladesh RMG industry. Discussions ranged from economic and operational implications, brand responsibility, and collaborative efforts to address climate challenges, to the significance of labor rights and worker welfare in the face of climate change.

Presided over by Professor Mohammad Mahboob Rahman, Treasurer, BRAC University, the event facilitated engaging discussions on the pressing need for collective action and industry-wide change to confront the looming threats of climate change in the apparel sector.



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