Labour and environmental standards in Pakistan's textile industry

Project description

Title: Improvement of labour, social and environmental standards in the Pakistan textile industry
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Pakistan
Lead executing agency: Federal Ministry of Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment (MoC), Islamabad, Pakistan
Overall term: 2021 to 2023


The textile and fashion industry with its major clusters in the province of Punjab is Pakistan’s most important branch of industry. It contributes approximately 8.5% to the country’s gross domestic product and 54% of exports. Some 15 million people (around 25% of the workforce) are employed in this sector. The productivity in this industry is low compared to other countries in the region. 

Until now, there has been little initiative for environmentally friendly growth. Large quantities of water, chemicals and energy are consumed in production. For the largely informal workforce, working conditions are characterised by poor occupational safety, low wages, lack of co-determination and lack of dialogue. The economic potential of women is hardly utilised. There is hardly any enforcement of the weak labour and environmental legislation. The private sector itself is virtually unaware of its responsibility for improving working conditions and the associated competitive potential. At the same time, demand from international buyers for sustainably produced textiles is increasing. Pakistan’s textile and fashion industry faces a major modernisation process in which sustainable production is a success factor.


The textile and fashion industry is oriented on sustainability; productivity, competitiveness and eco-nomic resilience are increasing. Public and private-sector actors increasingly pursue economic, envi-ronmental and social standards in the textile and fashion industry.


The methodological approach is based on using synergies between social, economic and environmental sustainability. Each field of activity therefore comprises measures relating to these three sustainability dimensions.

In field of activity 1, the project improves cooperation between government and private actors to promote sustainability in production. The Textile Industry Sustainability Forum set up by the predecessor project is used for this purpose. Successful approaches to sustainable production are disseminated in sector networks. 

In field of activity 2, the project strengthens the capacities of the state actors responsible for monitoring compliance with labour and environmental legislation. With the Labour and Human Resource Department of the province of Punjab, change processes initiated in the previous project are being continued. Organisational development and a quality management system are helping to improve service delivery. Enhanced digital information systems are optimising supervision, administrative action and services. Furthermore, the project is advising downstream institutions of the Labour and Human Resource Department on improving labour inspections and expanding prevention. It is also advising the Environmental Protection Department of the province of Punjab and downstream institutions on the analysis of environmental risks and the development of consulting services to mitigate these risks. In addition, the project is supporting the Environmental Protection Department in developing and piloting new instruments for monitoring resource efficiency (e.g. indicators and benchmarks for companies). 

Field of activity 3 aims to expand the range of services for increasing sustainable production. Various service providers are empowered through technical and organisational consulting to develop and implement new services in the textile and fashion industry to promote innovation, make production more sustainable and increase competitiveness. This includes the development of tools for improved resource efficiency and chemical management training. In addition, the tried-and-tested change management method ‘Dialogue for Sustainability’ is being further developed and rolled out on a broad scale. Innovation competitions provide incentives for companies. 

Last update: January 2021