German activities

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

German Development Minister Gerd Müller (right) presents the joint action plan of the Textiles Partnership together with (from left to right) Christiane Schnura, coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), Antje von Dewitz, CEO of VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG and Reiner Hoffmann, president of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB).

On 16 October 2014, at the initiative of German Development Minister Gerd Müller, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was officially launched. The Partnership is intended to encourage and support continuous improvements in social, environmental and economic sustainability along the entire textile supply chain. The Partnership has more than 100 members, two thirds of them enterprises, which means that it covers about half of Germany's textile retail market.

The goals of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles are based on tried and tested international principles such as the ILO's core labour standards, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They have also been informed by existing systems of standards (for instance for organic textiles and Fair Trade), technical industry standards, internationally recognised lists of harmful pesticides and industrial chemicals, and voluntary codes of conduct within the private sector.

The members of the Textiles Partnership seek to have an impact based on three pillars: (1) individual responsibility, (2) collective engagement and (3) mutual support.

Logo: Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
Final inspection of garments at a textile factory in Bangladesh

Individual responsibility

Under the review process part of the Partnership, the members undertake to meet specific targets, to pursue them in a verifiable manner and to gradually make them more ambitious. Each member audits their own status every year, sets out targets in a road map and reports on the progress made.

In order to ensure the credibility of this progress measuring, the annual road maps and progress reports are audited by independent external experts and published on the website of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. This creates transparency.

The targets laid down in the road maps have to fulfil the binding requirements of the Partnership for 2018 to 2020. For example, brands and traders have an obligation to identify the environmental and social risks and impacts of their business activities along their entire supply chain. In addition to their individual targets, the members of the Partnership have made a collective commitment to use at least 35 per cent sustainable cotton by 2020. The aim is to increase the share of sustainable cotton to 70 per cent by 2025.

front page: The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

12/2014 | pdf | 2 MB | 20 P. | accessible My binder

Topic Sustainable textiles: What German development policy is doing
Sustainable textiles: What German development policy is doing

12/2014 | pdf | 3.9 MB | 24 P. | accessible My binder

Collective engagement

Through collective engagement, the members of the Partnership work to improve social and environmental conditions in producing countries. In the Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu, the members of the Textile Partnership are striving to improve working conditions in cotton spinning plants in southern India, particularly for women and children.

The aim of the Partnership Initiative Chemical and Environmental Management is to ban harmful chemicals (such as dyes) from wet processes in factories in Asia, using innovative approaches to achieve this aim. Banning these chemicals will improve industrial health and safety and protect the environment.

In early 2019, the Partnership Initiative Living Wages was launched. In a first step, participating companies will analyse their purchasing practices and adapt them as appropriate. In addition, training programmes for suppliers are being organised in various production countries. This promotes social dialogue on the ground and supports concrete approaches for increasing wages, for example a collective agreement in Cambodia, in order to achieve more decent wages in the textiles sector.

Mutual support

The third pillar of the Partnership is about "mutual support" and joint exchange. Through regular opportunities for support and exchange (such as a range of training events, guidance documents and regular working meetings), the Partnership gives its members the chance to develop ideas, discuss them and learn from one another.

The Textiles Partnership has had an international outlook right from start. In order to increase its impact and firmly establish its goals at the international level, the Partnership works with like-minded European and international initiatives (such as the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Wear Foundation).


Further information

For the latest information on the Textiles Partnership, visit

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