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German Institute for Development Evaluation

The promotion of sustainable supply chains by German development cooperation

International supply chains have become increasingly important over the past few decades as globalisation has progressed. However, in addition to the potential benefits for all actors involved, there is a risk that negative social and ecological effects will be shifted to the production countries. These effects include violations of labour rights such as remuneration below the living wage, insufficient social security, inadequate occupational safety and health measures and child labour, as well as environmental damage such as the contamination of water through the inappropriate use of chemicals. Public awareness of these problems has increased in particular as a result of the fire at the Ali Enterprises textile and garment factory in Pakistan in 2012 and the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile and garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013. Since then, the textile and garment industry is often used as an example of human rights violations and environmental damage in international supply chains.

The commitment of German development cooperation to promote sustainable textile supply chains has also increased significantly in recent years. To address the diverse social and environmental challenges in complex supply chains, German development cooperation adopts a variety of strategic approaches – referred to as “instruments” in the evaluation. The objective of the evaluation is to investigate the relevance and effects of this combination of German development cooperation instruments.

Background

The globalization of textile and garment production is giving rise to numerous ecological and social challenges. Textile and garment workers in particular face precarious working conditions, which often amount to human rights violations. In addition, cotton production and textile manufacturing have significant negative impacts on the environment. Moreover, much environmental damage goes hand in hand with human rights violations for the local population in production countries. For example, inadequate wastewater management may lead to health problems.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights define the accountability for human rights violations in global supply chains by states and companies. Under the leadership of the Federal Foreign Office, the German Federal Government has developed the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP), which came into force in 2016. It lays down the guiding principles with regard to the human rights due diligence obligations of the Federal Government and German companies and contains instructions for their implementation. To establish fair and sustainable textile and garment supply chains, German development cooperation works with various stakeholders such as consumers, retailers, brands and manufacturing companies. It also addresses the political framework conditions, for example through its activities promoting a national law on due diligence obligations.

Objectives

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The subject of the evaluation is the mix of instruments employed by German development cooperation for promoting sustainable supply chains in the textile and garment sector. The evaluation aims to provide answers to two sets of questions.

The first set of questions examines the extent to which the mix of instruments is suitable for promoting sustainable supply chains, thereby evaluating the relevance, coherence and efficiency of the mix. To do so, the evaluation will first examine the entire mix of instruments along the textile and garment supply chain. It will then put a particular focus on instruments targeting retailers and brands in Germany as well as manufacturing companies in Bangladesh, as these actors play a particularly important role for the reduction of human rights violations and environmental damage in the supply chain. The second set of questions also focuses on firms in Bangladesh and Germany and aims to examine selected impact pathways in order to evaluate the effectiveness, impact and sustainability of the instruments used.

Methods and evaluation process

The evaluation uses a theory-based approach, which considers the reconstructed theory of change as a starting point. In the course of the evaluation, the theories of change for the various groups of actors will be reconstructed and then used to answer the evaluation questions. Depending on the type of evaluation question, different data and methods will be combined and triangulated.

The first set of questions will be answered using a qualitative content analysis of expert and key informant interviews, a detailed portfolio analysis based on program and strategy documents, and a qualitative comparative analysis and the MSI (multi-stakeholder initiative) evaluation design. To answer the second set of questions, a contribution analysis and in-depth case studies will be conducted.