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The UK and Pakistan Researchers Join Hands for Taxonomy Workshop to Make Pakistan’s Textile Industry Become Sustainable

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Lahore, June 8, 2021: The Northumbria University and LUMS, in partnership with UP-SIGN, is working with Pakistan and the UK’s top scientists to bring the country’s textile sector into a circular economy business model with zero-waste. A taxonomy workshop, funded by the British Council, was held to bring together textile stakeholders including academia, industry, and policymakers to develop ideas around the circular economy in Pakistan.

Mr. Mike Nithavrianakis, Deputy High Commissioner of Great Britain and Trade for Pakistan inaugurated the online workshop on June 7, 2021. He put emphasis on the need for a combined approach to address climate change which is affecting textile and associated communities. He appreciated the funding from British Council and partners leading this collaborative opportunity.

Mr. Shafiq Ahmed, Head of Trade and Investment at Pakistan High Commission London said, “The Taxonomy debate is timely as Pakistan hosted the world environment day and committed to restoring damaged ecosystems.  We need innovative and sustainable solutions to protect the supply chain of cotton through conserving soil and water, and promoting varieties that need less water, and are pest and disease resistant.”

Currently, Pakistan’s textile industry provides employment to almost 40% of the country’s total labor force. The country is extremely vulnerable to climate change, making it even more crucial for the country’s textile industry, as well as in India, Bangladesh, and other parts of Southeast Asia, to tackle global climate challenges.

Dr. Shahid Rasul, the principal investigator of taxonomy who leads the development of novel wastewater treatment, electrochemical CO2 reduction, and waste to energy conservation technologies, also spoke at the workshop. He emphasized the urgent need for critical thinking and innovations in the textile sector of Pakistan to make it more sustainable and circular in its business model.

Dr Naveed Arshad, Associate Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department, LUMS, taxonomy lead from Pakistan, and Director, Centre for Big Data and Cloud Computing, said that the textile industry needs to diversify its textile outputs. It is essential for value addition to produce high-value goods with lesser carbon footprints.

Dr. Khalid Mahmood, Vice-Chair UPSIGN and Agritech lead said, “We are excited to bring researchers from the UK and Pakistan to address Pakistan’s important sector challenge. To address soil, water, pest, and disease, we need an integrated solution to secure a sustainable supply of cotton and benefiting smallholder farmers and their families especially women.”

Professor John Crawford said, “There is a need for a holistic approach to address the food and fiber challenge. The circular economy model offers a fantastic opportunity to address the water, food, and energy nexus and protect our natural and human capital.”

Dr. John Arthur is facilitating this 3-day workshop that has 40 researchers from the UK and Pakistan taking part. They will be pitching for a challenge fund of £7000 (PKR 1.5 million) as a seed research fund to shape their ideas and solutions. SMEDA, TEVTA, APTMA, and leading Pakistan textile industry stakeholders are also taking part in the workshop.