Many of us may not be aware of the fact that World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. So, in light of this newfound knowledge, let’s commit to not wasting a single drop of water, today, tomorrow, and for the rest of time.
Historically known as a riverine country, Bangladesh has more than 700 rivers, tributaries, and many other forms of wetlands. The correlation between water and the economy in Bangladesh has always been very intense -- industrialisation and urbanisation took place around the sea ports, after all.
Culturally, the people of this area have never been aware of the water crisis and it water not treated as a scarce resource.
Due to heavy urbanisation and industrialisation, the water table in and around Dhaka has been depleting by one to two metres every year. Though ground-water is not a problem for the whole country, the unplanned extraction of it is dangerous for the future sustainability of our country.
Considering the importance of water resource conservation, sustainable consumption has been identified as one of the major goals in the 17 SDGs.
Also, ensuring water security has already been identified as a key area of concern for the RMG industry. Both the industry and major buyers have shown major concerns over ensuring water resource.
Bangladesh is at the take-off phase, aspiring to be a middle-income country by 2021, and RMG will be playing a major role as it is the main engine of our economic growth. No significant hydro-economic studies have yet been conducted to see if we have enough of water to reach our strategic goals in the near future.
The government has taken the issue of water security very seriously, for which the Bangladesh Water Act 2013 was passed and major policies are currently in hand.
Our nation has achieved significant development in terms of water security, but we have a lot more to do
It’s good to know that the government has signed an MoU with the the Netherlands on Bangladesh Delta plan 2100 -- the Water Resource Group 2030 (WRG 2030) is a cosignatory of the MoU.
WRG 2030 is working through a water multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) that includes government, private sector, and civil society with an aim to come up with some transformation in industries, agriculture, and the municipal sector, and ensure water security by improving surface water quality through wastewater treatment and promote integrated water resources management.
In the World Economic Forum 2017, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asserted her commitment to the 2030 WRG in Bangladesh. The private sector too is quite committed to this platform, which is being spearheaded by the National Steering Board where BGMEA is an important member.
Prior to the involvement in 2030 WRG, BGMEA introduced the Bangladesh Water PaCT (Partnership for Cleaner Textile) program which is being implemented in around 200 wet processing units of the RMG industry.
This has helped successfully reduce water consumption by 18.4 billion litres per annum in the intervened factories.
Another pilot project named TREES has been introduced in around 17 SMEs, jointly implemented by BGMEA and PSES, GIZ. A textile sustainability platform (TSP) has been established to provide policy suggestions to the government towards ensuring sustainable growth of the industry.
A textile technology business centre (TTBC), the first of its kind, has been established in BGMEA to help its member factories in disseminating information about environment-friendly and resource-efficient technology and practices. TTBC also organises seminars on cleaner production and green factories, among others.
In recent years, the Bangladesh RMG sector has shown remarkable success in the area of green industry.
Till date, 67 factories have received LEED Certification from the United States Green building council (USGBC), of which four of the factories have achieved highest rating in industrial category of the whole world and 13 are platinum and 20 are gold certified. 220 more factories are in the LEED certification pipeline.
Most garment manufacturers are now concerned about effluent treatment plants (ETP). Many NGOs are also coming forward for waste water treatment for recycling and reuse of water as 72% of water consumption takes place in the chemical processing of textiles.
Directly throwing the waste water in fields or linkage with rivers and water-logging causes serious damage to the water, the environment, and the ecology. ETP can be used to “improve” the waste-water before releasing it into the environment.
For better service and to maintain environmental integrity, certain NGOs are operating mobile water treatment services around Dhaka, where water treatment can be conducted on-call and necessary suggestions and comments can be provided to make standardised water quality that is reusable and environment-friendly.
Rain water harvesting, hazardous chemical management, use of daylight, energy-efficient LEDs, the reuse and recycle of water, and so many other positive practices are being adopted by the industry.
Our nation has achieved significant development in terms of water security, but we have a lot more to do.
Sustainability is not a standalone game, rather a shared responsibility of all parties involved.
Changing attitudes is definitely difficult, but it has to start somewhere -- it’s good to know that it has already started rolling in the right direction.
Faruque Hassan is Senior Vice-President, BGMEA. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology, and is Managing Director at Giant Group.