Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES)

Project description

Title: Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bangladesh
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Commerce, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

Prevention through protection and safety measures is the first step towards improving the situation for workers in the garment industry of Bangladesh.


The fashion industry is booming: the design comes from Europe, the cotton from Africa or America, the production of fabric takes place in China. The fabric is then brought to Bangladesh, where the garment industry produces T-shirts and other textiles out of it, which consumers purchase in the shops in Europe.

As a major player in the industry, Bangladesh is at the centre of the globalisation of the textile sector and, therefore, receives attention worldwide. The textile and garment industry is the second largest in the world and topped only by China. It has an export volume of USD 28.15 billion for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Four million people, most of them women, are employed in the approximately 4,500 textile and garment factories.

It is the stated goal of the Government of Bangladesh to achieve further growth. Therefore, they are planning to increase the revenues of garment exports to USD 50 billion by 2021. However, the time of rapid growth at all costs is over. Growing social pressure from consumers and, consequently, buyers in Europe and the US, is a major factor in initiating a change of thinking within the industry.

While there are clear statutory requirements for compliance with social and environmental standards, many businesses are still not equipped to fulfil them. Government actors need expertise and personnel to enforce the legislation, while factories and tanneries require knowledge and qualified staff familiar with social and environmental norms.


The project “Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES)” is supporting the government and actors of the private sector as well as civil society to pursue a course of sustainable economic growth in the textile, garment and leather industries in Bangladesh.

It is essential that:

  • Government representatives are equipped to enforce the legislations
  • Factories and tanneries are willing and able to improve environmental and social standards and can increase their productivity at the same time
  • Workers know their rights and assert them in the factories


To maintain environmental standards water samples are being collected and later analysed


The project is supporting Bangladesh’s garment, textile and leather sectors to increase compliance with national labour and environmental laws and international standards to fulfil the commitment towards an inclusive workforce. PSES is primarily concerned with legislation and standards for safeguarding the rights of workers, including provisions for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. It builds on the work of its predecessor projects, which ran from September 2009 to June 2017.

The project experts work together with all stakeholder groups, including ministries, employers’ associations, factories, international buyers, non-governmental organisations and trade unions. It assists government representatives and factory managers to improve working conditions and to implement environmental standards. At the same time, the project supports workers to know their rights and responsibilities and helps them to assert these rights and responsibilities in the factories. Through its “Inclusive Job Centre” the project supports the integration of persons with disabilities into the sectors’ workforce.

The project helps to achieve sustainable development in the ready-made garments (RMG), textile and leather sectors, helping the Government achieve its Vision 2021, aiming at export revenue of USD 50 billion by 2021 in these sectors. As a partner to business, government and civil society, PSES contributes to strengthening the systemic competitiveness of Bangladesh's textile and leather industry in its sustainable economic, social and environmental dimensions.

GFA Consulting Group supports the implementation of the project, particularly in the area of strategy development and road map

Comfort and acceptance at work - a bathroom for employees with disabilities


Social Standards

There is still a long way to go until working conditions meet the requirements of the International Labour Organization (ILO) throughout the country. Consequently, in the area of social standards, the project seeks to promote good working conditions, occupational health and safety, and fair wages.

  • Around 1,018 partner factories have delivered measurable improvements in their working conditions through PSES’ factory improvement programme in the RMG and leather sectors
  • Around 2,427 Factory Compliance Officers of RMG and leather factories have been trained in social standards
  • 300 labour inspectors of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) have been trained in the Bangladesh Labour Laws and Inspection Techniques in cooperation with the ILO
  • Around 34,099 managers and workers have received training in social standards and fire safety through business associations
  • Around 252,481 workers, mostly female, have been made aware of their rights as well as responsibilities through women’s cafés, for improvement of social dialogue and industrial relations in the RMG and leather sectors
  • Around 9,635 disputes between workers and management in the garments sector have been resolved amicably through women’s cafés.

Environmental Standards

Expansion and success of the textile, RMG and leather sectors have brought major environmental challenges such as increased demand for raw materials, and depletion of natural resources, and pollution leading to substantial health and environmental threats. A lack of investment, insufficient expertise, and challenges of access to finance are the key reasons why factories often fail to comply with standards. Consequently, the project is assisting textile, RMG and leather sectors to implement environmental measures that enhance safety, a healthy environment, and resource efficiency, thereby making the investment worthwhile for the sustainable development of these sectors.  

  • More than 300 factories, including around 50 tanneries, have significantly improved their environmental standards in at least one of the areas such as Environmental Management System, sludge management/solid waste management, waste water management, electrical safety, electrical efficiency, water reduction, chemical management and energy consumption.
  • National standards and guidelines for sludge management have been developed in collaboration with the Department of Environment (DoE). GIZ prepared toolkits, training modules and provided training to the International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) on Waste Water Management. After taking this training, IUBAT started facilitating a certificate course on this topic using GIZ’s toolkits and training modules.
  • More than 50 DoE officials, 150 local consultants and 350 factory staff have been trained on Environmental Management and Environmental Standards. These officials, consultants and staff have been trained in at least one of the following topics: Chemical Management, Advanced Chemical Management, Electrical Safety, Environmental Management System, Water Savings, Waste Water Management, Sludge Management, Environmental Inspection and Recycling Effluents after Treatment.

Inclusive Skills Development

The textile and garment sectors are getting more interested to recruit persons with disabilities to work in their factories, which improves the living situations of these people considerably as it enables them to participate in society. At the same time, there is an urgent need for suitably trained personnel in the industry. The project is addressing the situation through capacity building of agencies for placing persons with disabilities in the labour market. An “Inclusive Job Centre” was established in 2015 on the premises of a national non-government organisation, the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Dhaka. The centre matches persons with disabilities who are prepared to work in the textile and garments sector with suitable training opportunities and employment.

The project in association with its partner Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) supported 204 factories to introduce measures for the inclusion of persons with disabilities like barrier-free access, disability inclusive workplaces, recruitment of persons with disabilities and inclusive company guidelines.

At the same time, the project targets factory owners, encouraging them to recruit persons with disabilities and supports them to find individuals to fill relevant positions. The project has been promoting the implementation of National Skills Development Policy 2011, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in association with National Skills Development Council Secretariat and the factory associations.

  • More than 528 persons with disabilities have been registered at the Inclusive Job Centre, where 300 persons with disabilities received counselling, job retention and referral support.
  • 154 persons with disabilities got support to find a suitable job in a factory.
  • 154 factories have introduced measures for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
  • More than 500 persons with disabilities have successfully completed a training measure to obtain vocational qualifications or to exercise their rights.
  • More than 515 people affected by the Rana Plaza’s disaster were reintegrated in the economic activities after completion of training on entrepreneurial skills development, counselling, mentoring, etc.