A Water Secure Garment Industry in Bangladesh

15 April 2016
University of Oxford, UK

This Science-Industry Roundtable was hosted by the University of Oxford and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). The event gathered a group of key global manufacturers and retailers that have major investments and interests in a sustainable garment industry.


  • Identify areas of shared interest in promoting water security for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Dhaka’s garment industry
  • Demonstrate novel biosensor technology which will be used for toxicity analysis of Dhaka’s river systems
  • Discuss a risk-based programme of work linking river pollution with human health and factory performance


Bangladesh’s garment industry aims to double annual revenue by 2021 to $50 billion. Employing four million people, mainly women, the growth of the sector contributes around three quarters of foreign export earnings. Water security risks will shape the sector’s future growth as hundreds of factories impact water ecosystems through abstraction and effluent releases. Corporate water risks are growing, with international companies and national stakeholders increasingly aware of liability and attribution concerns on aquatic ecosystems and human health. The need for robust monitoring and management of water quality hazards is linked to improving public health and sustainable growth, which is increasingly recognised by government, private sector and civil society.

The REACH programme is establishing a Water Security Observatory focused on Dhaka, working with the Department of Environment and General Economics Division (Government of Bangladesh), International Finance Corporation, UNICEF, BUET, University of Dhaka and icddr,b to promote sustainable growth, resource management and poverty reduction.


Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section, Programme Division, UNICEF

'Our partnership with REACH recognises science has a critical role in designing and delivering effective policy and improving practice on the ground.'

© 2023 REACH