UNECE-UNIDO International Conference
“Accelerating action for the sustainable garment and footwear industry of the future: Harnessing the potential of innovation for due diligence and reduced environmental impact – The way forward to UNFCCC COP27”
Cairo, 24 May 2022
Ambassador Christian Berger
The World and even more so the Mediterranean basin are highly threatened by the impact of climate change. Temperatures are raising and the uncertainty of water availability increases dramatically with time. Action should be taken now before it is too late. COP27 will be an opportunity to show willingness to act against climate change. And the EU is keen to support Egypt to make COP27 a major success involving all actors. Slowing down and preventing Climate change is the responsibility of each of us including the private sector and consumers. In the EU we have hush launched an initiative to reduce hearting by 1°, isolate homes and encourage the use of public transport.
The European Commission supports the concept of sustainable growth, that is to say the development of an economy preserving our resources for future generations. The EU has launched its Green Deal to accelerate the transformation of Europe into a sustainable, low carbon circular economy. The EU is committed to implement this approach also in its external cooperation by dedicating at least 25% of the EU budget to Climate action.
The textile sector can play an important role in promoting a sustainable economy preserving climate change. It is an important sector in Egypt. This sector may be a pioneer in implementing the concept of circular economy. This may as well facilitate the access for the Egyptian textile industry to new markets as consumer behaviour is changing.
This conference is timely. We need to given the importance of strengthening the dialogue among policymakers, financial entities, business associations and key industry actors on relevant approaches and measures to accelerate the pace towards the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the growing body of legislation and standards for the transition to sustainable and circular business models.
The EU has set ambitious policy goals for itself and in its new phase of joint cooperation with Egypt, the MENA region and the world at large, such as decent work, traceability and transparency, sustainable growth, sustainable consumption and production patterns, transition to a circular economy, and will continue to support government’s efforts to achieve them at global, regional and local level.
At a global level, there are key initiatives like the Traceability for Sustainable Garment and Footwear Initiative implemented by UNECE and ITC and the linked Sustainability Pledge toolbox that we are proud to be funding as EU. They truly contribute to building sustainable consumption and production patterns and a more circular economy that minimises resource inputs, cuts waste and guards against pollution and carbon emissions through traceability and transparency solutions for tracking any garment or item of footwear. We are fortunate that such a powerful initiative is being piloted in the cotton sector in Egypt.
At a regional level we support the Switch-Med Project, an EU initiative implemented by UNIDO that aims at achieving a circular economy in the southern Mediterranean region by changing the way goods and services are produced and consumed. In order to achieve this, the initiative provides tools and services directly to the private sector, supports an enabling policy environment, and facilitates exchange of information among partners and key stakeholders.
At country level here in Egypt, we have put decarbonisation of industry, promotion of opportunities related to circularity, adoption of green technologies and promotion of sustainable production and consumption patterns in selected value chains including textile at the core of our next EU flagship programme in support to trade and industry in Egypt, known as EU TIGARA which will start implementation just after COP27 in Sharm El Sheik.
For countries producing textile products, like Egypt, this is an opportunity to boost exports, increase market access, especially for SMEs complying with international social and environmental standards/certifications. Traceability and transparency is certainly a very important ingredient that will help substantially in ensuring due diligence and sustainability in that area. The EU being the major import destination of garments and footwear items, what you are doing, what we are doing together, is an important part of that puzzle.