FASHION

Can better data protect fashion workers from climate risks?

Fashion suppliers are starting to take climate risks into account when deciding where to locate factories or how to keep workers safe in them, but a lack of good data is holding back early efforts to mitigate threats, industry officials warned.

“Climate change poses the risk of supply chain disruption so we must take such risks into account to do business in the long run,” said Mohammad Monower Hossain, head of sustainability for Team Group, a leading apparel supplier in Bangladesh.

His organisation, seen as an early adopter in incorporating climate risk into its business plans, now takes into account land elevation and potential flood risk when siting new factories – a key consideration in a low-lying country listed among the most at risk from climate impacts, Hossain said.

The manufacturer also has two factories certified as green buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council, and three more waiting to receive a similar designation, he said.
But Hossain said much of Bangladesh’s apparel industry is struggling to similarly plan for climate risks, in large part because of a lack of easily available and reliable information on the threats facing factories and their workers.

THE DATA GAP

Bangladesh’s fashion industry has in recent years focused on curbing its carbon footprint, with major brands investing in emissions-cutting changes to win over green buyers and help meet global climate goals.But work on preparing for direct climate threats facing the industry – from extreme heatwaves to flooding – is newer.”The fact that we have so much attention on mitigation solutions means that in some ways adaptation is a little overlooked,” said Sabina Lawreniuk, a garment industry expert at Britain’s University of Nottingham who works on the impact of climate change on Cambodia’s apparel industry.

In January, Lawreniuk and a team of researchers launched

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