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Pakistan Projects Target Competitiveness, Conditions in Apparel and Textile Industry

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is helping to launch a pilot project in Pakistan to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country’s textile and apparel manufacturing sectors.

At the same time, WWF-Pakistan has joined with the European Union and ILO in a project to implement International Labor and Environmental Standards (ILES) in the country. This program aims to improve the industrial sector’s competitiveness and strengthen the capacity of the public sector to implement multilateral environmental agreements and national environmental laws and standards in Pakistan, according to WWF, formerly known as World Wildlife Fund.

The ILO’s Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) program, funded by the EU’s ILES application in Pakistan’s SMEs project, provides training to help companies expand and create more and higher-quality jobs by increasing their competitiveness through productivity and workplace practices. Apparel manufacturing and textile dyeing are specific sectors targeted in the Pakistan SCORE project.

According to the ILO, SCORE offers worker training and consulting on how to upgrade factory working conditions and productivity. The program previously has been instituted in India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam. The ILO notes that SCORE training has resulted in up to a 50 percent improvement in productivity for participating SMEs, with an 88 percent satisfaction rate from participants.

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The ILES project’s mission is to contribute to improved environmental sustainability and worker livelihoods in Pakistan by supporting sustainable economic growth and development. Given the harmful levels of pollution discharged from numerous industries, WWF said, the project will focus on an overall improvement in the sustainability of production and consumption practices, with a particular focus on water use and management in water-intensive SMEs.

The project aims at enhancing capacities of the textile and leather sector to adopt “smart environmental management practices” to reduce water and energy use, as well as hazardous chemicals, by 15 percent to 20 percent, in addition to addressing air and noise pollution and solid waste management.

Other objectives include reduction in energy consumption by enhancing capacities of the 500 textile and leather sector SMEs to reduce energy use by 15 percent, promoting responsible production and consumption practices, and improving the livelihoods of workers by providing social protection. A multi-stakeholder partnership comprised of SMEs, public authorities, supporting institutions and multinational co-operations is taking place in four cities: Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot and Faisalabad.

Additional goals of the ILES project include implementation of Green Office Initiatives in selected SMEs, implementation of Alliance for Water Stewardship standards in selected industries, development of green financial instruments for sustainable initiatives in the target industrial sectors, and increased understanding and capacity of federal and provincial governments for enforcing the updated environmental and labor laws and standards in Pakistan.