The Revised Version of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria Will Come Into Effect as of Cotton Season 2024/25

Between October 2021 and February 2023, Better Cotton conducted a revision of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (P&C), which resulted in the adoption of the Principles and Criteria v.3.0 as our next farm-level standard. The revised standard will become effective for licensing starting in the 2024/25 cotton season, after a transition year.

Given the significant shift required in some areas related to the transition from P&C v.2.1 to P&C v.3.0, the indicators linked below will have a delayed implementation timeframe, becoming effective as of season 25-26 only. This will allow Producers to have more time to set-up the necessary systems and approaches to ensure compliance and mitigate risks of unintended adverse effects.

Find here the indicators with delayed implementation timeline here.

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Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v.3.0

Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v.3.0

What Are the Next Steps?

On 07 February 2023, the draft P&C v.3.0 was officially approved for adoption by the Better Cotton Council. Starting from March 2023 and until the new standard comes into effect as of season 2024/25, a transition year will allow Better Cotton members and staff to prepare for the implementation of the new Principles and Criteria. The transition period will include – among other things – public and audience-specific webinars; capacity strengthening activities for our staff and Programme Partners; technical training for auditors and Third Part Verifiers; and communications activities tailored to Better Cotton’s different stakeholder groups.

What’s New in the Principles and Criteria v.3.0?

The new Principles and Criteria are structured around six Principles: Management, Natural Resources, Crop Protection, Fibre Quality, Decent Work, and Sustainable Livelihoods, and the two Cross-cutting Priorities: Gender Equality and Climate Change.


Decent work

Cross-cutting Priorities

Overall, the P&C v.3.0 has been streamlined and requirements have been strengthened across all thematic areas to ensure they continue to deliver relevant sustainability impact at field-level. The new farm-level standard includes a strong focus on social impact, with new requirements around gender and livelihoods, and some major changes in the way we address Decent Work-related issues.

It continues to have a strong focus on the sustainable use of Natural Resources and responsible Crop Protection measures, refers more explicitly to the adoption of measures related to climate action, and strengthens requirements around non-conversion of land and regenerative agriculture practices. The new Management principle will help build solid foundations for producers to thrive in all thematic areas, shifting the focus from practice adoption to tangible outcomes.

Revision of the Principles and Criteria

At Better Cotton, we believe in continuous improvement at all levels of our work – including for ourselves. In line with the ISEAL codes of good practices for voluntary standards, we periodically review our farm-level standard – the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (P&C). This helps to ensure the requirements remain locally relevant, effective and up to date with innovative agricultural and social practices.

The Principles and Criteria were first published in 2010 and were formally revised between 2015 and 2017, and again between October 2021 and February 2023.

The goals of the latest revision were to realign the P&C with new focus areas and approaches (including the Better Cotton 2030 strategy), to ensure it remains an effective tool to drive continuous improvement leading to field-level sustainability impact, and to address challenges and lessons learnt from the past.

The draft of the revised Principles and Criteria (P&C) v.3.0 received formal approval from the Better Cotton Council on February 7, 2023, and the new standard will become effective for licensing starting in the 2024/25 season.

Timeline of the Revision Process

The revision process ran for roughly 18 months and consisted of an iterative process of drafting and various stakeholder consultations. It followed ISEAL’s Standard-Setting Code of Good Practice v.6.0, which sets out best practice guidelines to develop or revise sustainability standards.

The next review of the Better Cotton Principles and is foreseen for 2028.

Governance of the Revision Process

The project benefitted from several standing and external committees. Three technical groups worked closely with us to revise the current indicators. These groups of subject experts, appointed by the Better Cotton Standards Committee, helped draft the revised indicators and guidance, review stakeholder feedback, and adjust the draft content based on this feedback.

The project was overseen by a multi-stakeholder Standards Committee, comprising dedicated technical experts and representatives from Better Cotton’s Council and membership base. The responsibility for the final approval of the revised P&C was entrusted to the Better Cotton Council.

Meet the working group members below.

Crop Protection Working Group

Decent Work & Gender Working Group

Natural Resources Working Group

In addition to the three working groups, we have appointed a Standards Committee.

Outcomes of the Public Consultation

Between 28 July and 30 September 2022, Better Cotton ran a Public Stakeholder Consultation on the draft text of the new Principles and Criteria. The Consultation included a variety of online and offline activities at a local and global level.

You may find the Consultation draft of the P&C and a synopsis of the comments from the Public Stakeholder Consultation with the ways these have been addressed in the revised Standard in the ‘Key Documents’ sections below. An anonymised version of all written comments from the Public Stakeholder Consultation can be provided upon request. For more information, please contact [email protected]

Complete records of the standard revision will be kept on file for at least five years and will be made available to stakeholders upon request.

Key Documents

  • Standard Setting and Revision Procedure v2.0 1.39 MB

  • Standards Committee Terms of Reference 148.95 KB

  • Standard Revision Project Overview 191.38 KB

  • Principles and Criteria Revision Public Consultation Summary of Feedback 9.56 MB

  • Principles and Criteria v.3.0 Consultation Draft 616.07 KB

  • Principles and Criteria v.3.0 Translation Policy 105.59 KB

If you’d like to request hard copies of the revised standard, please get in touch with the Standards Team using the form below.

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