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HSBC to Help Boost Sustainability in Sri Lanka’s Apparel Sector

HSBC Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s largest bank, and the environmental group International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are working together to create a “cohesive low-carbon development transition strategy” for the South Asian country’s garment industry.

The project, which was announced earlier this month, will draw on the expertise of the Joint Apparel Association Forum of Sri Lanka, the National Cleaner Production Centre and the Board of Investment, as well as research conducted by IUCN.

Stakeholders will also enlist the help of regulatory agencies, apparel industry management and environment auditors “who are familiar with the industry operations and processes,” Ananda Mallawatantri, country representative of IUCN Sri Lanka, said.

Mark Prothero, CEO of HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, said he believed that “knowledge-based intervention” is the best way of ensuring “impactful and sustainable change” in the long term.

“The apparel industry is a critical income earner for Sri Lanka, and supporting its transition into greener development is imperative for the growth and long-term stability of the industry,” he said in a statement. “With this project, HSBC is moving beyond transactional corporate social responsibility to more [of] a knowledge-based contribution that benefits the communities, the environment and the country at large.”

The project is part of a pledge by HSBC Sri Lanka’s parent group to provide $100 billion in “sustainable financing and investment” by 2025.

“The $100 billion commitment…acknowledges the scale of the challenge in making a transition to a low-carbon future,” Stuart Gulliver, group chief executive at HSBC, said in 2017. “We are committed to being a leading global partner to the public and private sectors as they make that transition.”

Garments are currently Sri Lanka’s leading export. In 2018, earnings from apparel exports topped $4.9 billion, a 3.6 percent uptick from the year before. Roughly 80 percent of its production ships to Europe, with the remainder to the United States, though interest from American buyers may be growing as a result of the trade war with China.