Production Principles & Criteria: revision process

Here you will find detailed information about the Standard revision process. To get involved, contact  Gregory Jean, Standard and Learning Manager.

Links to learn more about the Better Cotton Standard System:
Production Principles and Criteria
Production Principles and Criteria (Downloadable version)
The Better Cotton Standard System
The Better Cotton Assurance Program (Downloadable version)

Documents used and resulting from the 1st Public Consultation (3 Dec 2015 – 3 Feb 2016) and the 2nd Standard Setting and Revision Committee Meeting (9 – 10 March 2016):
BCI Standard Draft 1
BCI Standard Draft 2
Guidelines document
Consultation Report
Standard Setting and Revision Committee second meeting decision on Draft 1: Synopsis



We are committed to reviewing the Better Cotton Standard at least once every 5 years. This is a unique opportunity to integrate feedback from all of our various stakeholders in to the Standard. Importantly, the process will maintain the Better Cotton Standard’s relevance to sustainability challenges in the cotton sector. The revision process gives opportunities to the general public and membership to contribute to the way in which the Better Cotton Standard evolves.

As an ISEAL Full Member, BCI also follows the ISEAL Code for Setting Social and Environmental Standards, ensuring that the Standard is reviewed regularly and following recognised good practices.

In keeping with these commitments, in January 2015 the BCI Council approved the proposal to launch a formal review of BCI’s Standard. This revision process provides an exciting opportunity to incorporate improvements to the Standard that will enhance BCI’s ability to reach its mission and strengthen the credibility of the overall Better Cotton Standard System.


The revision of the Standard is led by the BCI Standard and Assurance team, supported by a Standard Revision Committee.

The process affects various stakeholders who are part of the BCI system implementation and use the Principles and Criteria (P&C) and related documents to implement more sustainable farming practices.

  • Farmers: Smallholders, Medium Farms and Large Farms define their continuous improvement plan and undertake annual self-assessment on BCI minimum and improvement requirements. They are therefore directly concerned by any change brought to the P&C.
  • Implementing Partners: They enable cotton farmers to grow Better Cotton by supporting Producer Units in conducting their activities, carrying out Second Party Credibility Checks on Producers Units (including the preparation of corrective actions), and sharing best practices with BCI, also in line with the P&C.
  • Country Managers/Strategic Partners: They are the front-line implementers of BCI system. They are not only in charge of carrying out Second Party Credibility Checks, but they also review Producer Unit self-assessment, support 3rd party verification process, prepare corrective action plans for Implementing Partners/Producer Units. Their work will be significantly impacted by any change in current version.
  • Independent Verifiers: It is part of their duty to independently assess a Producer Unit or Large Farm’s performance against BCI requirements. They will have to make adjustments to their verification processes according to the new version of the P&C.
  • BCI Members and other stakeholders: The P&C are the basis of the BCI sustainability production system, and due to this, their revision and the changes they will bring will have a significant impact on this group of advocates. Members will be sensitive to the way standards are revised, ensuring sustainability objectives are maintained.


Two rounds of public consultation will be conducted to ensure that all stakeholders who have an interest in the P&C revision have the opportunity to comment on revised drafts.

The Standard Setting and Revision Committee (SSRC) supports the revision of the Standard by discussing modalities and intensity of changes to be brought to P&C and prepare drafts for stakeholder consultations.

Ultimately, the BCI Council will assess the final draft drawn up by the Committee and approve the revised version of the P&C.


The Standard Setting and Revision Committee (SSRC) supports the revision of the Principles and Criteria (P&C). The BCI council oversees the committee. It comprises of 10 members who bring relevant expertise. It consists of the following:

  • At least one representative from each membership category. The opportunity to apply has been given to all BCI Members.
  • One Council member
  • A designated project manager from BCI.

Members of the committee have met and will meet several times  during the course of the process to offer technical advice and expertise towards the revision of the Standard. They have the opportunity to bring perspectives from their respective groups and stakeholders, evaluate impacts on affected stakeholders and decide the degree of change that will be incorporated in the new standard.

The Committee will decide when the final draft of the P&C is ready for review and approval by the BCI Council.

Stakeholder consultation

Input into the review of the P&C is pro-actively sought after by BCI. All in all, up to two rounds of stakeholder consultations will be organised in order to allow all interested and impacted parties to provide their comments and contribute to the process. Participants will have the opportunity to provide their input through an online survey.

  • First consultation: 03 December 2015 to 03 February 2015

The first stakeholder consultation took place from 3 December 2015 to 3 February 2016.

  • Second consultation: 05 December 2016  to 25 January 2017

This consultation is currently going on. Please refer to the Standard Revision main webpage.

Council Approval

The BCI Council has the authority in approving the final draft of the revised P&C. The Council confirms that the process followed by the Standard Revision Committee is in line with BCI’s Standard review process. The Council will ultimately have the authority to approve the content submitted, following the two rounds of stakeholder consultation.

Pilot Projects

The Standard Setting and Revision Committee may propose entirely new environmental or social safeguards to be integrated into the P&C. If approved by the council, some of these may be experimented through Pilot Projects. In this scenario, pilot projects will serve to assess interpretation, local relevancy and feasibility of implementation for further adjustment.

Pilot projects proposed by the Committee are not time bound to the final Standard review deadline.

Transition Period

Once revisions to the P&C are approved, a transition period will be defined for those implementing the Standard. The transition period will be defined once the changes proposed to the Standard are clear.

Please check regularly for an update on the transition period.

Detailed Status

30 September 2015: 1st BCI Standard Setting and Revision Committee Meeting

The committee reviewed a pre-draft of the Production Principles and Criteria, which included proposed edits and highlighted questions to address before releasing a 1st draft. After discussion and deliberation, the Committee finalised the 1st draft to be released for public consultation.

03 December 2015: 1st Public consultation 

The stakeholder consultation on the BCI Standard revision started on 3 December 2015 and lasted for 60 days. The Standard Setting and Revision Committee reviewed proposals from the BCI project team during the first meeting on 30 September and discussed elements related to the content and structure of the standard.

The 1st Public Consultation allowed stakeholders, directly or indirectly affected by the BCI Standard implementation, to provide input. During this period, a large number of stakeholders were consulted and many provided input either through online consultation tools or national stakeholder outreach activities organized in BCI countries. BCI received 33 completed comment forms.

 9 – 10 March 2016: 2nd BCI Standard Setting and Revision Committee (SSRC) Meeting, Utrecht, Netherlands (Solidaridad Headquarters)

Members representing each membership category had a fruitful exchange of ideas about the best ways to improve the Standard in light of input received from stakeholders during the last consultation. An agreement was reached on certain aspects related to the structure and content of the draft document including: inclusion of a 7th principle dedicated to management practices, ways to address climate change, a reinforced approach towards pesticides, the adoption of a more holistic approach towards environmental values management (water, soil, biodiversity), and a new land-use change approach, among other things.

You will find a synopsis summarising progress made in the draft thanks to stakeholder feedback and input received at the committee meeting here as well as a stakeholder consultation report listing and analyzing all comments received here.

Naturally, many elements of the structure and content discussed at the committee meeting are still under review and will be the subject of the second round of the consultation. The Standards and Assurance Team is currently updating the draft.

10 – 11 June 2016: Consultation with Implementing Partners, Hong Kong

BCI held a consultation with Implementing Partners on 10 – 11 June in Hong-Kong where all partners had the opportunity to get updated and provide feedback on the latest version of the second draft. Participants were organized into four groups and discussed suggested changes related to the following:

•   Crop protection, notably Highly Hazardous Pesticides banning and minimum protective equipment;

•   Water stewardship and the new BCI water management plan components;

•   Biodiversity participatory mapping;

•   New Land-Use change approach with HCV assessment; and

•   Climate change mitigation and adaptation measures feasibility.

All input received during the meeting was collected and will be considered as we prepare the final draft of the revised Principles and Criteria. A report on the Implementing Partners consultation will be released within the next weeks.

June – October: Technical review of environmental principles

During that period, some key partners and external experts were identified to further define and develop work streams on environmental principles, notably water stewardship, land use change approach and biodiversity management plan components based on input received from the first consultation and the Partners workshop in Hong-Kong. Active collaboration with experts like Water Footprint Network and the HCV Resource Network allowed to significantly progress on Principle 2 and 4 in particular.

November 2016: Second draft critical review

BCI has engaged into a critical review of the second draft intended to be submitted for the second round of consultation. External experts reviewed the draft with fresh eyes in order to ensure global coherence and identify remaining gaps in the draft. Based on the review, the draft has been further refined for the consultation and shortfalls identified. Of course this does not mean all of the shortfalls have been resolved, but the critical review provided a snapshot on overall structure and progress on content.