Bangladesh Circular Economy Summit 2023

Circularity will be the key for the next growth transition of Bangladesh’s economy according to the 1st Bangladesh Circular Economy Summit which took place in Dhaka yesterday, June 15th, 2023.

The Bangladesh Circular Economy Summit was organized by Bangladesh Apparel Exchange in collaboration with Laudes Foundation and in partnership with P4G. The summit was powered by GIZ, Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh and H&M Group. 

Md. Atiqul Islam, Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation; Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Special Envoy to Prime Minister of Bangladesh (Environment & Climate Change) and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on MOEFCC;  Anne Van Leeuwen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bangladesh; Edimon Ginting, Country Director, Bangladesh Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank; Dr. Bernd Spanier, Deputy Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh; Leyla Ertur, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group; and Mostafiz Uddin, Founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange were speakers in the opening plenary of the summit.

Md. Atiqul Islam, Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation, said ‘‘3R – reduce, recycle and reuse are the keys for sustainability. Moreover, extended product or producer responsibility as stipulated by the EU is going to be mandatory for apparel producers in Bangladesh. So, the importance of promoting circular fashion in the country cannot be overstated.’’

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Special Envoy to Prime Minister of Bangladesh (Environment & Climate Change) and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) said ‘’In traditional economy which is linear, we produce, consume and throw away is not sustainable. So, we need to make the shift from linear to circular economy to keep resources in use for as long as possible, and extract and harvest the maximum value from the products whilst in use. For that the business cases for circularity has to be win-win for manufacturers and buyers.”

Anne Van Leeuwen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bangladesh said ‘Netherlands and Bangladesh have many things in common. One of them is both the countries are big deltas, thus vulnerable to climate change. Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in economy and social development indexes. The country has the opportunity to be a leader in circular economy too.’’

Leyla Ertur, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group said ‘’The fashion industry needs to accelerate its transformation towards circularity as the way forward to solve the biggest challenges we face, not only companies but societies in general, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. We need to join forces to build a circular fashion ecosystem and Bangladesh is unique as the country with the world’s largest share of pre-consumer textile waste readily available for recycling. Bangladesh has a great potential to attract investments from local and foreign investors to scale up the production of high-value recycled fibers from pre-consumer waste. However, we are well-aware the industry needs advancing policy to regulate the waste handling sector in order to move forward in this area.’’

Founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, Mostafiz Uddin, comments: “Bangladesh Circular Economy Summit aims to find out the opportunities for the shift from the linear to circular business model and foster collaborations among the stakeholders to promote circular economy in the country.” 

The summit was comprised of 4 plenary sessions, 3 keynotes, 3 presentations, a roundtable, and a fireside chat. 

At the plenary session ‘The Bangladesh Economy – The Path Towards a Circular Economy’, speakers were Md Ariful Hoque, Director, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA); Dr. Abdul Hamid, Director General, Department of Environment, Ministry Of Environment, Forest And Climate Change;
Dr. Khairuzzaman Mozumder, Additional Secretary at Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh;
Ziaur Rahman, Regional Country Manager Production (Bangladesh, Pakistan And Ethiopia), H&M; Iqbal Chowdhury, CEO, LAFARGEHOLCIM Bangladesh Limited (LHBL); Zaved Akhtar, CEO and Managing Director, Unilever Bangladesh Limited; an M Riaz Hamidullah, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Netherlands (Moderator).

At the plenary session ‘Circular Cities’, the speakers were Professor Akter Mahmud, Jahangirnagar University; Kristin Strandberg, Cities Strategist, Circle Economy; Engr. Taqsem A. Khan, Managing Director And CEO, Dhaka WASA; Md Ashraful Islam, Chief Town Planner, Capital Development Authority (RAJUK); and Morten Lehmann, Co-Founder and CEO of Tailwind (Moderator).  

At the plenary session ‘Accelerating Circular Economy in Apparel and Textile – The Role of Policy’, speakers were Ahmed Shihab Zaman, National Platform Liaison, Partnering For Green Growth And The Global Goals 2030 (P4g); Omar Gias, Director (Strategic Engagement), Bangladesh Apparel Exchange; Faisal Rabbi, Engagement & Public Affairs Team for H&M Group; Zaki Uz Zaman, Country Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); Barrister Vidiya Amrit Khan, Deputy Managing Director, Desh Garments Ltd And Director, BGMEA; Md. Akhter Hossain Apurbo, Vice President, BKMEA; Abdur Rahim Khan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh; and Micke Magnusson, Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Agent for Impact, Enviu (Moderator).  

At the plenary session ‘Lessons Learnt and Next Steps for Post Industrial Recycling in Bangladesh – Practical and Tangible Advice and Actions for Progress’, the speakers were Mumit Hasan, Director, Reverse Resources; Stephanie Schuitemaker, Head of Communication and Member of Holland Circular Hotspot;  Gagan Bansal, Head of Material Innovation and Strategy at H&M Group; Professor Matin Abdullah, Brac University;  and Dr. Michael Klode, Project Manager with GIZ Bangladesh (Moderator).  

The keynote ‘Circular Economy Myth Busting: A Shared Understanding’ was presented by Kim Poldner, Professor Circular Business, the Hague University of Applied Sciences. The keynote ‘Circular Economy in Bangladesh: Challenges and Opportunities’ was presented by Riaz Hamidullah, Ambassador of Bangladesh In the Netherlands. The keynote ‘Circular Business Models and Design for Apparel Industry in Bangladesh’ was presented by Stephanie Schuitemaker, Head of Communication, Holland Circular Hotspot.

The ‘Circularity Gap Report 2023’ was presented by Ola Bakowska, Strategist of the Circular Textiles Programme at Circle Economy. The ‘Blueprint for a Circular & Sustainable Future’ was presented by Buddhi Paranamana, Director – Sustainability & Innovation, PDS Limited. The ‘Coming into Action: How the Government can Play Their Role’ was presented by Arnoud Passenier, Strategic International Advisor Circular Economy,  The ‘Promoting Circular Fashion in Bangladesh’ was presented by Werner Lange, Coordinator GIZ Textile Cluster Bangladesh. In the fireside chat on ‘Decent Work in a Circular Economy – How to Achieve a Just Transition’ the speakers were Naureen Chowdhury, Head of Labour Rights Programme, Laudes Foundation; Apoorva Shankar, Senor Labour Market Consultant, Circle Economy; and Sandra Gonza, Strategic and Business Impact Consultant (Moderator).  

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