The research question driving our work is how do sustainability transitions, particularly the understanding of ‘roles’ and ‘actors’, enable sustainable innovations and transformation in the textile and garment sector in Asia? The role of actors and actor constellations associated with industrial relations (workers, employers, unions, industry associations, and government – specifically labour and environment ministries) plays a significant and unexplored role in the transformation currently occurring in the textile sector, and these actors and their interactions will be critical (if with changed roles) in sustainability transitions for the sector. Sustainability transitions requires a re-framing of the relationship between workers, employers and government, and the emerging dialogue on Just Transitions is demonstrating the scale of this challenge.
Our work is part of a wider three-year US$4m donor funded project with the International Labour Organisation (United Nations specialist branch on industrial relations and work) to increase decent work and environmental sustainability in the textile and garment industry in Asia. There are four sub-projects of which our project is one, specifically focusing on environmental sustainability in the sector. Other sub-projects address enhanced industrial relations and social dialogue, gender equality, and productivity.
The overall structure of the project is arranged around empirical activities in seven countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam). Research activities will be carried out in tandem with broader ILO activities in these countries, and in partnership with existing ILO social dialogue partners – workers and employers associations, industry associations, and government (mainly national labour and environment ministries, although regional governments with all be included in most cases).