The textile industry is one of the major industrial polluters, and water recycling is yet far from being standard practice. Wastewater generation remains a serious and growing problem, affecting ecosystems, human health and freshwater availability for other uses. India is the world’s third largest exporter of textiles and the sector directly employs 45 million people. This case study explores the socio-technical transition of Tirupur, a textile cluster dubbed as the first in India to shift to 'zero liquid discharge' (ZLD) in a systematic manner.

The textile industry’sexcessive water use and contribution to ever-worsening environmental degradation in countries of production, particularly the so-called global South, is increasingly putting it under public scrutiny. However, this sector of the economy also provides important income opportunities to skilled and unskilled labor alike, not least women, and brings much-wanted economic growth. India was the third largest exporter of textiles in 2015and the sector generates direct employment to more than 45 million people, making it the second largest after agriculture.

This FAO Committee discussion paper highlights the key role of water for food security, globally and for different groups. Climate change projections suggest many regions will become drier and hotter, and droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe.

India’s energy situation is marked by deficits, coal imports, a national grid that collapsed in 2012, and efforts to develop renewable sources. Acknowledging that 400 million people lack access to electricity, the government is obliged to endeavour to provide electricity to all parts of the country.