Today, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) shared in our 2020 Annual Report that Better Cotton – cotton produced in line with the initiative’s Better Cotton Principles and Criteria by licensed BCI Farmers – now accounts for 23% of global cotton production, with BCI’s nearly 70 Implementing Partners rapidly adapting their practices to evolving circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver training and support to 2.7 million farmers* in 23 countries.
Together with our partners, BCI has made great progress from when the first bale of Better Cotton was produced in Pakistan just over a decade ago, but there is still much more to do. The global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity and social inequality are more pressing than ever. BCI is committed to supporting cotton communities and applying lessons learnt to deepen our impact as we move into the next decade.
2020 Year in Review— BCI remained committed to improving livelihoods and supporting cotton farming communities throughout the pandemic, transforming the way we work and raising funds to support the majority smallholder farmers in lower income countries. Strengthening our capacity to promote decent work and prevent forced labour, we revisited our approach to addressing decent work challenges with the help of a task force, culminating in a Decent Work Strategy. BCI also closed the first phase of our Gender Strategy, measuring and piloting women’s empowerment projects in South Africa and India, while advancing the gender conversation within the Cotton Community. Through the Delta Project, BCI helped lead the way in strengthening efforts of multiple sustainability initiatives to address social and environmental challenges in agriculture, protect workers’ rights and improve farmers’ livelihoods with the creation of a shared approach to measuring and communicating sustainability progress.
The BCI Journey— In 2016, BCI began our journey towards Better Cotton being recognised as a mainstream sustainable commodity by 2020. In the 2019-2020 season, BCI Retailer and Brand Members sourced 1.7 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton, a 13% increase on 2019 sourcing volumes and a record for the industry. In 2020, BCI also welcomed more than 400 new members across five membership categories. By the end of the year, BCI’s membership base had exceeded 2,100 members, spanning 60 countries and accounting for a 14% increase on 2019. As BCI moves forward, creating and measuring meaningful impact will be an increasing focus of our work, as we continue to reach more farming communities. More on this will be shared later in the year.
“Our 2030 strategy is testament to our determination to help cotton farming communities build climate resilience, conserve natural resources and promote decent work, strengthening our sector while supporting the global push to achieve the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We want to deliver real impact for cotton farming communities. That’s why the work we have undertaken with our stakeholders in 2020 to refine our strategic approach and align our climate efforts with science-based targets is so important.”
– Alan McClay, CEO, Better Cotton Initiative
“In the 2019-20 cotton season, we strengthened our capacity building approach, dedicating more resources to helping farmers adopt sustainable practices and finding new ways of building lasting relationships with our partners as well as developing new partnerships with technical experts. This provided a robust foundation from which to respond rapidly to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.”
– Jyoti Narain Kapoor, India Country Director, Better Cotton Initiative
* This figure refers to ‘participating farmers’. There are 2.4 million farmers licensed to grow Better Cotton, 2.7 million participating farmers receiving BCI’s training and support to grow cotton more sustainably, and 3.8 million farmers reached by BCI’s programmes including Farmers+. More information is available here.