The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF), launched by BCI and IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative in 2016, is on course to meet a target to reach five million farmers by 2020, according to its annual report.

As well as a 43% growth in BCI members, the fund has managed to invest more than £7.9m in more sustainable cotton farming in seven countries including India, Pakistan and China.

IDH chief executive Joost Oorthuizen said: “The Better Cotton GIF provides a mechanism for retailers and brands so they can make investment decisions and have impact on scale they would never be able to reach on their own. It also enables public-private cooperation on an unprecedented scale which add to its successful implementation.”

The report notes major successes such as strengthened relationships with governments in India and Pakistan, the highest-ever annual national production of Better Cotton in China, and an “exemplary” cooperative model of delivering farmer training and capacity building in Tajikistan.

BCI is the largest farm-level cotton sustainability programme in the world. Its aim is to transform cotton production worldwide by developing ethically-sourced cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.

Cottoning on

Evidence suggest that major brands are failing to make sufficient progress on sourcing sustainable cotton. While proportionately more companies have sourcing commitments than in 2016, a report from WWF shows that very few have set targets to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2020 or earlier and overall uptake of sustainable cotton remains relatively low.

Nevertheless, there are a growing number of industry leaders which have vowed to implement full transparency of cotton sources to promote sustainability. Clothing giant Target, for one, has set a new goal to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2022 for its owned and exclusive national brands across apparel, home and essential products.

In an exclusive interview with edie, the chief sustainability officer of one of the world’s largest purchasers of sustainable cotton, C&A, revealed that he wanted to drive uptake of certification across the industry.

C&A became the first global retailer to launch Gold level Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified t-shirts, which have been designed to be reused, recycled into new products or safely composted.

George Ogleby

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