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Cotton 2040–New Initiative

Written By Views maker on May 21, 2017 | 5/21/2017

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The challenge

Climate change and drought, food security for a growing population, human rights, biotechnology, ‘fast fashion’, the circular economy - these and other factors and trends are combining to create many long-term risks and opportunities for the cotton industry.

There are excellent initiatives out there that aim to build better resilience for the sector, navigate it through an uncertain future and ensure that it continues to thrive within our planet’s limitations. Change is urgently needed for farmers, the environment and the textile industry to safeguard its long-term viability. However, given the sheer scale and complexity of the challenge, existing efforts aren’t making it happen at the speed and scale that we need.

Cotton 2040

The Cotton 2040 initiative is a unique cross-industry partnership, including leading brands and retailers, cotton standards, producers and industry initiatives. It aims to maximise and accelerate current sustainability initiatives in the global cotton industry and drive more sustainable cotton firmly into the mainstream. By bringing industry stakeholders together, and aligning efforts in priority areas for action, it seeks to ensure that their collective impact is more than the sum of their parts.

With the support of the C&A Foundation, Forum for the Future began to scope the key issues and crucial levers for change towards a more sustainable cotton industry in February 2015. Through 18 months of research, dialogue and development work with global stakeholders and experts, we developed proposals for four cross-industry areas for action (workstreams) with the potential to create a systemic shift in cotton.

These workstreams will be pre-competitive, action-driven collaborations: bringing together a number of organisations across multiple sectors for collective action.

The first of these, 'Building demand for sustainable cotton', was launched in November 2016 and we are also moving forward with the Traceability workstream.

The four proposed workstreams are:

Building demand for sustainable cotton

Shaping the nature of the demand for sustainable cotton is critical to transforming the system. This workstream is working on enabling an increased demand for sustainable cotton within the fashion and apparel industry, by highlighting the benefits of choosing sustainable cotton and providing resources and guidance on sourcing it.

Cotton recycling and circularity

The recapture and reuse of cotton fibres in textiles has the potential to transform the cotton industry and yield significant sustainability benefits for the sector. This workstream will focus on developing chemical textile-to-textile recycling as a key enabler in circularity.

Traceability

Difficulties with traceability of cotton across the supply chain create significant barriers to uptake. This workstream will initially focus on the establishment of a common traceability interface to make it easier for brands and retailers to purchase sustainable cotton across multiple standards, and simpler for producers to manage data entry. It will also focus on helping brands and suppliers to develop internal data systems to support greater use of sustainable cotton.

Upskilling for resilience

The long-term viability of the cotton industry relies on the ability of farmers and farming communities to be resilient in a changing world. This workstream will focus on creating a cross-industry forum to build resilience among smallholder cotton farmers.

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