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Rising sea levels a threat to Asia’s apparel sector, report says

By Rosalie Wessel


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Sadarghat port at the Buriganga river in Dhaka, Bangladesh / Michael Reeve via Wikimedia Commons

Asia’s apparel sector is under threat from rising sea levels, according to a new report.

An analysis by Cornell University claims that large apparel producing areas in Asia will be underwater by 2030. Thousands of garment factories must relocate to higher ground or be submerged in places such as Jakarta and Phnom Penh. It also warns the issue is not receiving enough attention from sustainability drivers.

The analysis utilised information from the open source factory database, the Open Apparel Registry. Using a map of factory locations, the researchers compared it to data from climate change think tank, Climate Central. The data suggests that these areas will fall in elevation below coastal flood levels once per year by 2030.

OAR data is being used frequently within the apparel industry, and could potentially inform sustainability decisions for brands. The not for profit database works to address industry challenges such as making its data available to all industry stakeholders.

Tiruppur, Dhaka, Columbo and Ho Chi Minh City under threat

“The analysis from Cornell, as well as the other case studies featured throughout the report, demonstrates the urgency of the issues facing our sector and is a sobering reminder that we can no longer afford to wait to take action towards a more sustainable future,” said executive director of the OAR, Natalie Grillion.

“Furthermore, while preliminary, the findings also demonstrate the use cases for our data and the potential for it to inform critical decisions around policy, investment, sustainability and ESG initiatives in the fashion sector globally.”

The OAR, which functions as a neutral, open-source tool and maps garment factories globally, seeks to drive enhancement in data quality and improve the lives of workers in global supply chains.

The database itself has over 1,800 subscribers and contains over 68,000 facilities. It receives data from around 400 contributors, and has mapped facilities in 120 countries. By providing such a comprehensive base of information for the industry, it hopes to spark change - notably with this report.

Climate Change
the Open Apparel Registry