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First International GOTS Conference Highly Successful - Thanks to all!
Report by Sumit Gupta, 29 May 2015
The flagship event by GOTS in Mumbai, India on 22nd May, 2015 was attended by more than 250 delegates from 12 countries including Brands & Retailers, Buying Agents, Manufacturers of Textiles and Additives (dyes, chemicals, enzymes), Certification Bodies, Testing Laboratories, Trade Associations, NGOs, Academics, Media, Consultants, etc. The theme of the conference was –Strong Partnerships for Success. The congregation initiated new partnerships and valuable discussions. The event got fabulous feedback from the attendees for quality of sessions, networking opportunities and eminence of delegates.
“We enjoyed the conference and we were very pleased to learn more about the players in the value chain of GOTS certified organic cotton products. As we move forward to push GOTS in the work-wear market, we look forward to stay in close contact and to meet you all again in the next GOTS conference”.
- Dr. Ulrich Hofmann, Managing Director, Brands Fashion GmbH, Germany (Lead Sponsor) -
"It was a very good session and lot of valuable information from speakers from different areas of textiles and making better understanding and sharing benefits of GOTS as an assurance of quality product and commitment to environment and society".
- Saurabh Gupta, Director (Global Sales), AEON Commercial Pvt Ltd, India (Lead Sponsor) -
I am very impressed by the large and high quality participation from all over the world and over all stages of the textile value chain - right up to the big brands. The spirit of change was in the air to take advantage and to boost the market potential of GOTS by building strong partnerships for success”.
- Claudia Kersten, GOTS Marketing Director, Germany (Organiser) -
"It was a great event where I got the opportunity to meet professionals from almost all over the world & sharing of ideas with them. Conference sessions were well précised and venue was great. It was my pleasure to attend it".
- Ehsanul Karim Kaiser, Esquire Group (Textile Division), Bangladesh (Speaker) -
“The level of expertise and knowledge of the speakers were excellent. I appreciate their positive attitude, willingness to explain concepts and opportunities to ask questions. The panels were very systematic and insightful”.
- Raghu Venkataraju, Material Manager, PUMA Sports India Pvt. Ltd. (Attendee) -
“This Conference, first of its kind, on GOTS sends right melodious note to the Textile and apparel stakeholders all over the world who will soon find it resonating with the essential commitment to Sustainable Textile and apparel production. Congratulations for organizing such a beautiful and very meaningful conference as time as time spent there was rightfully invested. Congratulations to GOTS Team and you all deserve appreciations”.
- Prof. (Dr.) M. D. Teli, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India (Invitee) -
“I think this was a very well-organized and coordinated event. It provided a very good platform for all the participants representing various segments of the supply chain including brands & retailers to brainstorm and discuss on the pertinent issues and the critical challenges. It was a great experience overall and heartiest congratulations to Team GOTS for a wonderful event“.
- Arvind Rewal, Regional Director – South Asia, CottonConnect (Invitee) -
“The insights I have gained from this one conference far exceed any other conference I have attended to date. Wonderful, insightful & well presented! The panel discussions were of great relevance in respect to current scenario of organic textiles, GOTS 4.0 & audit protocols”.
- Dipankar Bose, Sustainability & Compliance Manager, Arvind Ltd, India (Attendee) -
“Panel Discussion in Session 4 in GOTS Conference was really a great moment, where I’ve seen the high level of knowledge and expertise of the Indian operators and chemical manufacturers. I appreciated participating in such a good debate”.
- Vincent DURET, Ecocert Greenlife SAS, France -
“I could gain a brilliant network of people who are dedicated to organic and sustainable fashion; improved my understanding & knowledge about green business”.
- Prakash Jha, Cocccon UG, Germany (Attendee) -
“The conference was a wonderful opportunity to network with national and international players in textile sustainability industry. The session topics were insightful and we look forward to the next GOTS conference”.
- Dhawal Mane, Pratibha Syntex Ltd, India (Attendee) -
The ‘1st International GOTS Conference’ was organized by GOTS in The Lalit, Sahar, Mumbai, India on 22nd May 2015. The event was well attended by international brands, buying houses, Indian brands and exporters from the Indian subcontinent. The audience comprised of 250 attendees from 12 countries. GOTS has globally been participating in many international conferences, exhibitions and other strategic events, but this was the first instance when the standard organization itself organized an event of such a grand magnitude.
To begin the day, Sumit Gupta, Conference Coordinator and GOTS Representative in India & Bangladesh, welcomed the audience. He gave the background of the event and outlined the sessions planned. He also informed audience that ample time had been reserved for questions, networking and discussions, while encouraging them to proactively participate in the question-answer slots planned at the end of each session.
This was followed by lighting of the lamp in traditional Indian way.
Gupta introduced Herbert Ladwig, Managing Director, GOTS, Germany and invited him for his ‘Managing Director’s Address’.
Ladwig welcomed the audience again said that he was overwhelmed by the number of delegates from all areas of the organic textile industry. He went on to describe the story of GOTS, which started out 14 years ago.
“India, as the country with the highest number of GOTS certified facilities worldwide, is the most suited venue for this event. It were the Indian textile operators who almost enthusiastically greeted GOTS with tremendous ease to their export operations. Today, out of the more than 3600 facilities GOTS certified worldwide, more than 1300 are in this country,” he remarked. He also expressed his happiness on the DGFT notification in first week of May 2015 explicitly excluding organic textiles from the new procedures for export of organic products. Ladwig appreciated DGFT and Ministry of Commerce, Govt of India for this industry friendly move. Sharing his dream of a New Concept of Quality, he said, “If ecological civilization and thus sustainable production has to become mainstream, a fundamental change of the concept of good product quality is necessary. The perception of good quality must be transformed into a holistic one, where a product not produced in a sustainable way, is considered bad quality even if it is fashionable, fitting, and colourful. Its sustainable production must become part of the product identity”. His dream of new concept of quality was greeted with a big round of applause and initiated more discussions over the day.
MD’s Address was followed by ‘Key Note Address’ by Conference Coordinator Sumit Gupta. Giving his Keynote Address, Gupta spoke about the growth of GOTS in India and Bangladesh. He also emphasized on correct use of labelling and making the right claims about organic textiles. Speaking about the theme of the conference, he opined that sustainability is a complex concept and therefore the whole supply chain has to work in a strong partnership to achieve this goal. Trust and long term commitment is required form both buyers and suppliers. Gupta concluded his address by saying that only together we are strong.
The first session was titled “Storytelling: Brands’ and Retailers’ Business Case for Sustainability through GOTS” and was moderated by Claudia Kersten, GOTS Marketing Director, Germany. Kersten introduced the panelists and gave a short presentation to start the session.
Kersten discussed ‘The Business Case for Sustainability’ and linked Sustainability based textile standards to competitive strategies using the example of GOTS. She explained that the environmental and social management systems are often installed parallel to the economical ones. This needs a lot of coordination, is often not very efficient and leads to a lack of support from the management- because the correlation between environmental/ social management and the economic success of the company is not made clear. It is better to define the Business Case for Sustainability and to integrate all dimensions of sustainability: the management of ecological and social aspects in the view of the economic success and the economic value of brands and companies. She also stressed that brands should label GOTS on their products instead of using self-claims.
Dr. Ulrich Hofmann, Brands Fashion GmbH, Germany, started by giving a brief history of Brand Fashion Group, its social green initiatives, projects and activities. Speaking about the expectations from GOTS, he said that there should be improved traceability of supply chain starting with organic cotton farming and the need to increase organic cotton supply.
Shishir Goenka, Fusion Clothing Co., India in his presentation spoke about the journey of FCC with GOTS and the benefits that accrued to them like increased work environment safety, increased workers morale, improvement in company’s image, Increased sales opportunities over uncertified companies, increased public acceptance of company, reduction in labour turnover; reduced operation costs and reduced effect on environment.
Charline Ducas, C&A Europe, connected with the audience through a pre-recorded presentation since she could not make it to the conference due to last minute visa issues. The presentation described the journey and commitment of C&A towards eco-friendly sustainable production of garments. Ducas also spoke about C&A's recently launched baby line with GOTS Label in retail.
Presentations were followed by Q&A from the audience. Sharafat Mallik, C&A Sourcing International, India was invited on the dais to represent Ducas and answer relevant questions. Questions related to price premium, supply chain management, promoting certified organic products in retail in India were raised. The session ended with concluding remarks by the moderator.
Prachi Gupta, Technical Assistant to Sumit Gupta, offered a scarf to Kersten and ties to Dr. Hofmann, Goenka and Mallik as a token of appreciation for contributing to the conference. The scarves and ties were GOTS Certified made of 100% organic silk by Cocccon India. Interestingly, all the panelists decided to wear those ties on the stage and posed for a fantastic photograph with the Moderator, Conference Coordinator and Prachi Gupta.
This was followed by felicitation of Lead Sponsors by Ladwig. He felicitated Kerstin Hofmann from Brands Fashion GmbH, Germany and Saurabh Gupta from AEON Commercial India Pvt. Ltd., India.
The second session was titled “Going for GOTS” and was moderated by Marcus Bruegel, GOTS Technical Director, Germany. Bruegel gave his opening remarks and introduced the panelists.
Dr. Binay Kumar Choudhury, General Manager, Control Union Inspections and Certifications India Pvt Ltd and Member of GOTS Certifiers' Council, gave the first presentation on ‘Audit Checklist and Methods: Ecological and Social Compliance’. He spoke about how an audit checklist is prepared and methods of auditing, how auditing has developed throughout the years, the challenges and opportunities that auditing faces today, changes needed in the auditing process, and the need for ecological and social auditing.
Rahul Bhajekar, Technical Committee, GOTS and General Manager, Hermes Eco Laboratories, India next spoke about ‘Risk Management in Chemical Use and Testing’. He gave details about technical requirements in GOTS, the requirements for chemicals, testing procedures, chemical parameters considered in assessment and testing of dyes and chemicals, ‘Risk Assessment’ for GOTS certified goods etc. He also cautioned that requirements are never static and we shall have next GOTS Version in 2017 and therefore, have to sit through the presentation again (!).
Apart from moderating the session, Bruegel also made a presentation on ‘Labelling Organic Textiles- Legal Conditions and GOTS Requirements’. He gave details about the legal basis existing in the EU, USA and in India on the labelling of ‘organic fibres and textiles’. He then spoke about the applicable certifications to enable “organic product” claims for textiles. He said that GOTS labelled product in the retail market is the final result of the certification procedures of the entire supply chain and a visible commitment to the consumer that the product complies with all requirements of the standard. Thus correct and complete labelling is of utmost importance for the credibility of the standard, its certification system and its users. In all cases the GOTS labelling can only be applied to the product/ packaging by a Certified Entity and must have been approved by the Certified Entity's Approved Certifier in advance of its application. He gave details about the requirements for companies labelling and/ or selling GOTS goods in the supply chain and the requirements/ checklist for retailers before selling labelled GOTS goods. He explained difference between correct and incorrect labelling with pictorial examples.
Presentations were followed by Q&A from the audience. Questions like use of GOTS label by additive suppliers, GMO testing at later stages of production and TC issuing procedure etc were raised. The session ended with concluding remarks by the moderator.
After the panel discussion was over, Prof (Dr.) MD Teli from ICT, Mumbai offered the mementoes to the speakers.
This was followed by felicitation of Silver Sponsors by Bruegel. He felicitated Asha Devadas from Expoknits International, India; Anil Jadhav from Ecocert India Pvt. Ltd. and Priyanka Pawar from Messe Frankfurt, India.
Third Session was a panel discussion on ‘Sustainability Standards: National or International? -The Role of International Voluntary Sustainability Standards in Relation to National Statutory Compulsory Sustainability Standards’. This panel was moderated by Arvind Sinha, Business Advisors Group, India. The participating Panel Members were Mathieu Lamolle, International Trade Centre (ITC), Switzerland (via video message presentation), Herbert Ladwig, GOTS, Germany, Prabha Nagarajan, Textile Exchange, India, and Siddhartha Rajagopal, The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (TEXPROCIL), India.
Being a vast topic, discussions touched different aspects of standard setting, implementation, credibility, challenges, limitations, practicality of voluntary/ statutory standards. Each of the panelists lent their own insights and opinions on the said subject.
Opening remarks by Sinha were followed by the video message by Lamolle. He said, “…Development of national statutory standards in addition to the existing international sustainability standards could easily create obstacles to trade. International standards do encompass a global perspective and are developed in the view of making international supply chains more efficient – which is obviously particularly important in cases where supply chains are organized globally, as in the case of the textile and apparel industry…”. Ladwig opined that standards should be voluntary; however the governments can adopt and enforce private standards, as USDA has set an example by formally accepting GOTS for sale of textiles labelled as organic via its policy memorandum dated May 2011”.
Prabha suggested that standards offer easy harmonisation and therefore decrease cost of goods by reducing burden of multiple compliances. She further stressed on credibility of both voluntary and statutory standards. Siddhartha raised some strategic questions to the elite group in his turn, like legitimising private mode of governance in areas of public interest. He also questioned if state system procedures were heavy and private governing procedures lighter. These topics were further discussed during the panel and forayed into new thoughts and deeper insights.
In his concluding remarks, Sinha observed that a whole day’s discussion would not be sufficient to conclude this topic. But he aptly remarked that there needs to be cooperation between different stakeholders for the benefit of the industry.
After the panel discussion was over, Bhajekar (GOTS Technical Committee) offered the mementoes to the moderator and panelists.
This was followed by felicitation of Bronze Sponsors by Kersten. She felicitated P. Vivekanand from Armstrong Spinning Mills (P) Ltd.; Ketan Gandhi from Britacel Silicones Ltd.; Sandeep Bhargava from OneCert International Pvt. Ltd. and Monika Aggarwal from SRC Natura Products Ltd. India.
This was followed by the video “Changes in Version 4.0”. This 22 minutes video informed about changes in Version 4.0 as compared to GOTS Version 3.0.
The final session was a Panel Discussion on ‘Supply Chain: Challenges and Opportunities with GOTS’, which had representation from farming to garmenting and certification. This session was ably and aptly moderated by Ullhas Nimkar, NimkarTek Technical Services Pvt Ltd, who drove the discussions forward with his insightful questions for the panelists. The Panelists were Amit Shah, Spectrum International Pvt Ltd, India (representing farming & ginning), A Narayanasamy, Armstrong Spinning Mills (P) Ltd, India (spinning, weaving, knitting), Dr. Dileep Wakankar, Archroma India Pvt Ltd, India (dyes and chemicals); GP Kanchi, Mandhana Industries Pvt Ltd, India (wet processing), Dr. BD Ginde, Texan Laboratories Pvt Ltd, India (laboratory/ testing), Ehsanul Karim Kaiser, Esquire Group (Textile Division), Bangladesh (garmenting) and Vincent Duret, Ecocert Greenlife SAS, France (certification body).
Nimkar opened the session with a short background for the need for sustainable textiles. He stressed that sustainability is now a necessity and also enlightened about benefits for textile industry to change over from conventional to organic. Nimkar asked questions to each panelist relevant to his sector. All three pillars of sustainability, namely economic, social and environmental were discussed at length. Each panelist shared his views on price premium of sustainable textiles from his field. Child labour, worker safety, training & awareness were discussed, with focus on enhanced fire safety guidelines in GOTS Version 4.0. Issues related to toxicity and harmful substances in supply chain, especially in dyes and chemicals were also discussed.
Shah opined that though yield is an issue in organic farming, yet this can be addressed via long term commitment from farmers and buyers. He further stressed that restructuring farming models is required to make it more interesting for the farmers. Responding to a question from Nimkar, Wakankar informed that natural dyes have issues with fastness, standardization and consistency; while Narayanasamy told the audience that they do fire safety drills with simulated conditions on a regular basis. Ginde and Kanchi emphasized upon importance of safety equipment like masks and helmets. Question was raised on new mandatory TC rule and relevant challenges were discussed by Duret.
Marcus Bruegel (GOTS Technical Director) was brought into the discussion to inform the audience about GOTS Monitor (Water/ Energy), which is a fantastic tool available on GOTS website to GOTS Licensees free of cost. Kaiser added that they are already using the tool to monitor water/ energy consumption and for strategic decision making, thereby reducing cost and effluent load in their wet processing unit in Bangladesh.
The Panel Discussion was extremely interactive, the members from the audience also keenly participated by posing their specific questions to the panel members. Owing to the immense audience participation, Sumit Gupta (Conference Coordinator) gave additional five minutes for this session.
After the panel discussion was over, Arvind Rewal from Cotton Connect offered the mementoes to the moderator and three panelists. Prabha Nagarajan from Textile Exchange offered the mementoes to the other four panelists.
This was followed by felicitation of Bronze Sponsors by Dominique Pralon-Wissinger (GOTS Representative in EU- Brands). She felicitated Dirk Teichert from CU Inspections and Certifications India Pvt. Ltd., Vikas Saraf from Saraf Organics Pvt. Ltd., Vinod Kumar from Texan Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. and Sunil Chari from Rossari Biotech Limited. Manjiri Parajape accepted the sponsor’s certificate on behalf of Chari.
The conference was finally concluded with Herbert Ladwig thanking all those who made the event a success. He expressed his delightfulness and gratitude to see the hall full of audience at the time of his closing address. He proposed a formal vote of thanks and closed the event.
The conference was followed by a cocktail dinner.
More photos from sessions and networking:
Many thanks to our sponsors: