Last year, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) celebrated its 10-year anniversary – reaching this milestone gave us good reason to both celebrate and to look forward. In just over a decade, BCI has grown into the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. The journey to this point has brought successes, challenges and great learning opportunities to BCI, our Partners, Members and BCI Farmers.
Many factors, including climate, geography and societal norms, can create diverse sustainability challenges for cotton farmers. However, with these challenges come a multitude of opportunities for progress and improvement. BCI’s on-the-ground partners are providing training, capacity building and support to millions of cotton farmers in more than 20 countries, helping to drive positive environmental, social and economic results. Last year, Better Cotton – the cotton produced by BCI Farmers – accounted for 19% of global cotton production. You can find out more about the inspiring BCI Farmers at the heart of our initiative in ourStories from the Field.
Looking at BCI membership, we closed 2019 with 1,842 members from civil society organisations, retailers and brands, suppliers and manufacturers, and farm-level producer organisations, reflecting the truly collaborative nature of BCI. Retailer and Brand Members sourced a record 1.5 million metric tonnes of cotton as Better Cotton, accounting for 6% of global cotton production*. We are pleased to see a real shift happening in the market, and we encourage our members to keep building on their sustainable sourcing efforts and support improved cotton farming practices around the world.
As we enter 2020, we are coming to the end of BCI’s current five-year strategy. We will be able to fully review progress towards all of our targets throughout the 2020-2021 cotton season, and we look forward to sharing updates and results in due course. Right now, we are looking ahead and finalising a strategy to 2030. Embarking on this new strategy will mark a shift of emphasis for BCI – from focusing on growth to focusing on impact. Delivering and demonstrating meaningful, positive change at farm level is our priority.
We will continue to collaborate with other sustainable cotton standards and initiatives, while conducting and commissioning research to assess the effectiveness and impact of the BCI programmes around the world. We know there is always room for improvement, and we look to continually strengthen the Better Cotton Standard to ensure it continues to address cotton production challenges, contributes to improved farmer livelihoods, and meets the sourcing needs of our members.
None of this would be feasible without the pioneering spirit and deep engagement of all those who make up the Better Cotton Initiative. Thank you to all of our members, partners and stakeholders for your continued support, and we look forward to working together for impact and positive change in cotton production over BCI’s next chapter and decade.