Race to the Top: launching task forces

During a Race to the Top Program meeting the road ahead for catalyzing the growth of the textile and apparel industry in Vietnam while optimizing its environmental and social impact was defined.


The Race to the Top program looks to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. Program partners drive each other on creating better working conditions and higher environmental standards.

At the latest meeting in Hanoi, officials from Vietnamese ministries, apparel and footwear buyers (as for example GAP, PVH, and Levi’s), Vietnamese and foreign manufacturers, impact investors and financial institutions (as for example the IFC), embassies, and industry and civil society organizations (such as the SAC, Better Work, and VITAS) got together to discuss actions to achieve sustainable growth in Vietnam. As a result, five task forces are launched that will focus on different critical issues in the industry. The Race to the Top meeting was part of a larger consultative and participatory process to seek input on how to best define the needs for the industry in Vietnam.

The different task forces will for example focus on the streamlining of supplier assessments, to avoid the duplication of work and free up resources for impactful work, and on disseminating best practices for milling and weaving facilities, to reduce and, where possible, prevent the environmental impact of these facilities.

A third task force focusses on dialogue, productivity, and lean production, to combine the financial benefits of lean production with the social and environmental benefits from more efficient production, while facilitating stronger social sustainability at a country scale, and the fourth group will work on responsible sourcing, by using smarter buying patterns to avoid overtime and increase sustainable sourcing relations.

The fifth task force will focus on access to finance and technical support, to facilitate the investment in sustainability practices, and rolling out of financial tools that reward best in class suppliers.

All these task forces will be supported by a public private dialogue that is an integral part of the Race to the Top, to ensure alignment with policies and the national direction of Vietnam.

The Race to the Top program was shaped during 2015 by 3GF, development agencies, apparel and footwear companies, and sector associations and programs to create “an apparel and footwear industry that serves as the foundation for creating sustainable (financial, social, and environmental) economies where it operates”. The initiative is driven by a global steering group whose secretariat is managed by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

The program looks to prove and improve the (economic, societal, reputational) benefits of a sustainable apparel industry for both the government and the sector. The program also drives to create a supportive policy and regulatory environment for sustainable apparel production, improve the business rationale for manufacturers and mills to invest in sustainable apparel production, and to create cost-efficiencies by coordinated and innovative interventions at country-level.