The water-related impact most commonly associated with the textile and apparel sector is pollution, but businesses and their stakeholders are exposed to a range of water-related challenges.
From water scarcity impacting raw material production, to a lack of safe access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in communities leaving workers unable to attend work safely, pollution is not the only water-related impact within the textile and apparel sector.
Water stewardship presents an opportunity to ensure that the textile sector is fully aware of its water-related impacts and takes advantage of the benefits created through collaboration in shared sourcing locations around the world. By working together to strengthen water governance, preserve important water-related areas and ensure that communities have safe access to WASH throughout their supply chains, textile and apparel companies can secure their continued social license to operate and protect business continuity into the future.
Of all the AWS priority sectors, textiles is the one where there are already a significant number of sustainability-related standards and initiatives embedded within the sector. As a result, an important part of our approach with this sector is to engage with our peer organisations to understand the current status of water-related activity already embedded within the sector and identify opportunities to enhance existing approaches through use of the AWS Standard.
Read more about water stewardship and the Textiles and Apparel Sector in our industry briefing note:
Through our global textile and apparel working group, we aim to work with brands, suppliers, other standards and sector stakeholders to create a pathway from management to stewardship, that recognises the value created by water stewardship and embeds it within existing approaches. Central to this approach is capacity building and multi-stakeholder engagement in key sourcing locations for the textile and apparel sector around the world, to ensure that everyone, not just the private sector, is equipped with the skills they need to respond to shared water challenges.