Highlights from the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference


Published Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Over 300 representatives from across the cotton supply chain – from farmers to retailers and brands – met in Shanghai on 12 and 13 June for the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference. The conference, hosted by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), brought the sector together to collaborate on a more sustainable future for cotton. Here are some conference highlights.

Farmer stories

Smallholder cotton farmers from India, Pakistan and China, and large-scale cotton farmers from Australia, Brazil, China and South Africa took to the stage to share their personal stories from the field. From making homemade natural pesticides (derived from ingredients found in nature), to embracing the latest technological innovations to improve water-use efficiency, BCI Farmers are striving to make cotton production more sustainable.

Inspiring presentations from inspiring farmers.” – Brooke Summers, Supply Chain Consultant, Cotton Australia.

Collaboration across standards

It’s important that different cotton sustainability programmes and standards work together to drive real change in the sector. Representatives from Fairtrade Foundation, Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), Cotton Australia, ABRAPA, Cotton made in Africa, Textile Exchange, BCI and ISEAL came together at the conference to share their insights on capacity building and field-level impacts. Each of these organisations also contributed to the development of the conference agenda.

It was great to see a panel of different cotton sustainability standards speaking together about what they have in common, as well as what makes each of them unique.” – Charlene Collison, Associate Director of Sustainable Value Chains and Livelihoods, Forum for the Future.

Knowledge sharing

Throughout the conference, attendees joined industry experts to take part in hands-on, interactive sessions covering timely field-level, supply-chain and consumer-facing topics. Participants explored subjects such as adapting to a warmer world, the value of raw cotton, challenges faced by women in agriculture, and how to engage consumers on sustainability.

Celebrating BCI’s founding members

2019 marks BCI’s tenth anniversary. To celebrate, BCI gave recognition to the members who were amongst BCI’s first membership base and have been committed to BCI for the past decade: ABRAPA, adidas AG, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Association des Producteurs de Coton Africains (AProCA), CottonConnect, Cotton Incorporated, Ecom Agroindustrial Corp. Ltd., Farmers Associates of Pakistan, Federation of Migros Cooperatives, Hemtex AB, Hennes & Mauritz AB, IFC, IKEA Supply AG, KappAhl Sverige AB, Levi Strauss & Co., Lindex AB, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Inc., Pesticide Action Network UK, Sadaqat Ltd., Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd., Solidaridad, Textile Exchange and WWF.

If you were at the 2019 conference, we’d love to hear your feedback. Please share your thoughts in this short survey.

Thanks to all of the presenters, panellists and participants, the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference was a great success. We look forward to seeing everyone in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2020.