ILES | WWF
© WWF-Pakistan

International Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan's SMEs (ILES)

Pakistan is facing varying economic, political and social challenges with the overall GDP growth rate reduced to around 2% in 2007-2008 and only slowly increasing up to 4.14% in 2014-2015. The economic growth remains significantly hampered by the energy crisis, fragile law and order situation.

Population growth coupled with unsustainable industrial expansion has placed enormous pressure on Pakistan's resources and has also resulted in unabated pollution. 

Unsustainable water use and poor water management and governance practices are deteriorating water quantity and quality.

Rapid industrialization and urbanization (37% of population living in cities) have added to air, water, and land pollution. These issues, coupled with the high incidence of poverty, are serious threats to sustainable development.

Textile and leather sectors are key drivers of Pakistan’s economy and are two of the most water and energy intensive, polluting sectors of the country. Low process efficiency, wastage of resources, water pollution due to discharge of untreated effluents; air emissions, notably Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)’s; excessive noise or odour; as well as workspace safety, are some of the main environmental issues associated with these sectors.

Keeping in perspective the current social and environmental scenario of Pakistan, WWF-Pakistan has joined hands with the European Union and International Labor Organization (ILO) to implement international labour and environmental standards in Pakistan in order to improve the competitiveness of the industrial sector and to strengthen the capacity of the public sector to implement multi Lateral-environmental agreements (MEAs) and national environmental laws and standards in Pakistan. Compliance with international and national standards promotes enterprise efficiency, supports competitiveness in international trade and protects workers and consumers’ health and safety. This in turn leads to sustainable socio-economic development of the country.


The ILES project aims at contributing to improved environmental sustainability and livelihoods in Pakistan by supporting sustainable economic growth and development. Considering the alarming levels of pollution discharged from industries, the project will focus on an overall improvement in the sustainability of production and consumption practices, with a particular focus on water use and management in water intensive, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).


The project aims at enhancing capacities of the textile and leather sector SMEs to adopt (SEMPs) Smart Environmental Management Practicesto reduce water and energy use as well as hazardous chemicals (by 10%), in addition to addressing other relevant environmental issues such as air and noise pollution, and solid waste management.

© WWF-Pakistan

Objectives and Impacts

  • Improved resource efficiencythroughenhancing capacity of the textile and leather sector SMEs to reduce water by 10 per cent.
  • Reduction in energy consumptionenhancing capacities of the textile and leather sector SMEs to reduce energy use by 10 per cent.
  • Addressing other environmental issues such as air and noise pollution, and solid waste management.
  • Promoting responsible production and consumption practices.
  • Improving livelihoods in Pakistan through providing social protection.
  • Building capacity of the 500 textiles and leather SMEs.
  • Multi-Stakeholder City-Wide Partnershipsthroughestablishinga multi-stakeholder city-wide partnership in four cities (Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Faisalabad). This partnership is comprisedof SMEs, public authorities, supporting institutions and multi-national cooperation’s.
  • Enhanced compliance to NEQS and MEAs, throughintegrated framework on MEAs and environmental standards established and consulted by stakeholders across textile and leather sectors.

The project will also contribute to the Consumer Information Programme (CIP) and Sustainable Livelihood and Education (SLE) programmes of the United Nation’s 10 Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP).

Expected Outputs

  • Implementation of Smart Environmental Management Practices (SEMPs) in 75 SMEs (25 progressive SMEs, 50 non-progressive SMEs) belonging to textile and leather sectors.
  • Enhanced compliance to National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQs) and Multi Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
  • Developbusiness case in environmental conservation.
  • Knowledge dissemination (raising awareness) amongst 500 SMEs.
  • Implementation of Green Office Initiatives in selected SMEs.
  • Implementation of Alliance for Water Stewardship standards (covering resource efficiency, sustainability and pollution mitigation) implementation in selected industries.
  • Establishment and operation of city-wide partnerships on sustainable water management.
  • Development of green financial instruments for sustainable initiatives in the target industrial sectors.
  • Increased understanding and capacity of federal and provincial governments for enforcing the updated environmental and labour laws and standards in Pakistan.