• Good Governance
  • Textile

lab 4: Sustainable garment production in Cambodia through effective labour inspections

The challenge

How might we redesign labour inspections so that they can effectively contribute to sustainable garment production in Cambodia?


Garment production is Cambodia's largest industry with goods worth over US$ 7.5 billion exported in 2015. More than 700,000 garment workers are distributed among approximately 1100 factories, half of which hold export licenses.

Many of the world’s largest brands produce apparel in Cambodia and are striving to produce in a sustainable manner. Part of the challenge they face is not knowing which factories comply with international labour standards.

Although a system employing around 500 inspectors and auditors is in place to inspect and improve the conditions under which garments are produced, progress in the growing industry is still very slow. There are diverse reasons for this including that inspectors lack the necessary resources to conduct effective inspections. Furthermore, factory owners often lack the knowledge and means to bring about transformative change through the inspections.

The fourth lab of tomorrow innovation process will thus focus on creating innovative, business-driven solutions in the form of prototypes. These will enable relevant actors such as inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, factory owners and international buyers to contribute to a more sustainable garment production in Cambodia.

Possible solutions include

  1. Transferring technology for inspection management, quality management
  2. Optimisation of value creation and supply chain (e.g. integrating product-specific know-how and demands of the buyers etc.)
  3. Development of education and training programs


Examples of key stakeholders

In Europe:

  • Apparel brands
  • Auditing & system certification specialists
  • IT companies (data analytics, tracing, monitoring GIS systems etc., application service/mobile solution providers)
  • Supply chain experts
  • Development organisations
  • Foundations

In Cambodia:

  • Factory owners
  • Government representatives (Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Ministry of Commerce)
  • Auditors and Inspectors
  • Development organisations
  • Foundations