Better Cotton Initiative benefits sector

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) aims to promote measurable improvements of cotton cultivation to make it more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. The BCI's philosophy is to develop a market for 'Better Cotton' and thereby bring long-term benefits for the environment, farmers and other people dependent on cotton for their livelihood.

Target

To make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector´s future.

Reason

For millions of people in some of the world's poorest countries, cotton is a vital and unique link to the global economy. Achieving improvements in the social and environmental conditions of cotton production is essential for human and environmental health, the livelihood of millions of people, and the future of the commodity.

Activities

  • Formulating production principles and criteria to provide a global definition of Better Cotton.
  • Providing farmer support to promote enabling mechanisms at a local and global level, working with experienced implementing partners, and stimulating public-private partnership funds to implement these mechanisms.
  • Encouraging farmers to continuously improve, through measuring results and seasonal learning cycles.
  • Connecting supply with demand through an identifiable bale of 100% Better Cotton lint.
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning mechanisms to measure progress and change and to ensure the Better Cotton System has the intended impacts on its direct beneficiaries.
  • Facilitating the exchange of best practices and knowledge to encourage the scaling up of collective action.

Results

Some of the goals of the Better Cotton Initiative to be reached by 2012:

  • 15% of global cotton production is represented by the demand of BCI brand/retailer members.
  • 1.3% of global cotton production is produced as Better Cotton.
  • The Better Cotton system is developed in China and Central Asia.
  • Globally 100,000 farmers are producing Better Cotton.
  • Enhanced financial profitability for farmers producing Better Cotton is demonstrated.

Facts

Location: during the start-up implementation phase, the BCI focus is on: Brazil, India, Pakistan and West & Central Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Togo).
Duration: 3 year implementation phase(2009-2012). The Better Cotton System will be reviewed at the end of 2012 to evaluate whether it has delivered the desired results and impacts.
Solidaridad's role in the BCI: council member (secretary).
Participants in the BCI: a large number of civil society organizations (e.g. WWF), producers (Brazilian, African and Indian cotton producers), retailers and brands (e.g. H&M, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Nike) and suppliers /manufacturers and traders (e.g. Ecom). 

Brands and retailers involved in the BCI invited their suppliers to meet in Sri Lanka during the 2011 BCI Supply Chain Conference to discuss the opportunities and challenges of BCI. Watch the video to get an impression of this conference.