Global Cotton Sustainability Conference | Meet the Speaker: Reuben Turner

As of 20 March 2020, the Global Cotton Sustainability Conference in Lisbon moved from 9-11 June 2020, to be hosted on 2-4 March 2021. The decision to postpone was in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its global impact on health and travel.


In just a few months’ time, the 4th annual Global Cotton Sustainability Conference will take place in Lisbon. Farmers, brands, manufacturers, suppliers, NGOs, civil society organisations, agricultural experts and researchers will meet to collaborate on a more sustainable future for cotton.

Ahead of the conference, we caught up with the keynote speakers to gather their insights on key industry challenges and the innovations they are particularly excited about right now.

Meet Reuben Turner, Creative Partner and Founder, GOOD Agency

Reuben Turner has a long and distinguished background in marketing and advertising for social purpose. He is co-founder of London-based creative agency GOOD, one of the first agencies founded with social, ethical and environmental principles at its core.

As well as having worked with a number of leading NGOs, Reuben focuses on helping commercial brands understand, define and grow through social purpose, with current clients including Pernod Ricard, the Kingfisher group and leading fashion brand ESCADA.

How have approaches to defining and communicating an organisation’s purpose changed over time?

For a long time, an organisation’s “purpose’ was primarily about statements, manifestos or mood films. Although business leaders understood the need to have an organising principle that would make an emotional connection with stakeholders, staff and customers, they saw it primarily as a brand or positioning project. That led us to the era of “purposewash’, where brands would make emotive claims to stand for things or awkwardly link themselves to social issues.

How damaging is “purposewash’?

In an era of accelerate climate change, social division and structural inequality, such claims are rightly being seen as superficial, and it’s arguably added to the cynicism and distrust that so many people feel towards business. Simply put, we don’t have time for “purposewash’ anymore. It’s not solving the corporate world’s trust issue.

How can organisations get it right?

Today, there’s a new breed of business leaders who understand that statements are the start, not the end of the purpose journey. What actually matters is what businesses DO: the actions they take, the policies they change, the product innovations they invest in and the ways in which they help customers live healthier, more sustainable and equitable lives. These are all things that people care far more about than adverts.

Are there any innovative approaches to communicating purpose which you are particularly excited about right now?

I’ve been talking for a couple of years about the dynamic of “ally brands’ – these are brands that reject traditional leadership principles and think deeply how they can authentically be an ally to groups that need them. That could be working mothers struggling to make themselves heard at work or marginalised communities around the world. Ally brands grow their power and influence by seeing and sharing it. That’s counterintuitive to most brand thinkers but it’s a fundamentally important role in an unequal world.

You can hear Reuben Turner speak at the Global Cotton Sustainability Conference, which has been moved to 2-4 March 2021 in light of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out more and register here.

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Register Now for the 2020 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference: Early Bird Offer Expires 15 February

Are you planning on joining BCI and partners for the 4th annual Global Cotton Sustainability Conference? From 9–11 June 2020, representatives from the entire cotton sector and beyond will meet in Lisbon to shape a more sustainable future for cotton.

This year, the conference will dial in on three key themes – Climate Action, Innovation Now and Social Sustainability– exploring how the sector can collaborate in these areas to create and drive collective impact.

Register before 15 February 2020 to take advantage of the early bird rates.

BCI Members also receive an additional 50% discount.


Confirmed conference speakers include Futerra, The Renewal Workshop, GOOD Agency, IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Fair Labor Association, Change Agency, Cotton Inc., JFS and KAL. Hear from Reuben Turner, Creative Partner and Founder at GOOD Agency in the first of our Meet the Speaker blogs.

We still have a number of sponsorship opportunities available, from supporting cotton farmers’ travel to the event, to sponsoring the conference dinner. Please contact Events Officer Olivia Ji for more information.

Find out more and register for the conference at

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Better Cotton Partners from Around the World Meet to Drive Sustainability in Cotton Farming

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) works with 69 field-level partners – Implementing Partners – to provide training, support and capacity building to cotton farmers around the world. From 13 to 15 January 2020, BCI Implementing Partners from more than 10 countries will gather in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for the annual BCI Implementing Partner Meeting & Symposium.

The annual event enables BCI’s partners to come together to share best practices in sustainable farming, learn from one another, collaborate and engage in valuable networking. This year, the event will focus on biodiversity and BCI’s biodiversity requirements, as defined by the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. Attendees will be joined by cotton industry experts to discuss successes and challenges from the previous cotton season, as well as sustainable solutions and innovations for the coming season.

Expert guests include Gwendolyn Ellen, Founder of Agricultural Biodiversity Consulting; Vamshi Krishna, Senior Manager, Sustainable Agriculture at WWF-India; and Nan Zeng Ph.D, Climate and Agriculture Specialist at The Nature Conservancy.

Gwendolyn Ellen has over three decades of experience working in sustainable and organic agriculture. She has conducted research into entomology, botany, plant pathology and crop and soil science in multiple western agro-ecosystems. In addition, Gwendolyn has managed agricultural programmes focused on functional agricultural biodiversity for universities and the non-profit sector.

Vamshi Krishna is an expert in agricultural science, specialising in soil science and agricultural chemistry. He has worked with WWF-India for the past 13 years and played a key role in developing and demonstrating best management practices for the BCI Programme in India. Vamshi has also conducted research into soil profiles under different land use for the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture.

Nan Zeng has spent more than a decade researching and working in the field of ecology. She has participated in many projects focused on ecosystem services, biodiversity protection and sustainable agriculture. As a certified coach in the Conservation Coach Network, Nan has previously led training sessions on biodiversity for nature reserves and NGOs.

Highlights and key learnings from the BCI 2020 Implementing Partner Meeting & Symposium will be shared following the event. If you have any questions, please contact BCI Training and Assurance Manager Graham Bruford at [email protected].


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Join Better Cotton at World Cotton Day | Registration Closes on 20 September 2019

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) will host the launch of World Cotton Dayon 7 October 2019 at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

World Cotton Day will celebrate cotton, from its qualities as a natural fibre to the benefits people obtain from its production, transformation, trade and consumption. The event will also serve to shed light on the challenges faced by cotton industries around the world, and particularly in the least-developed countries.

The day’s events will include:

  • A plenary session with heads of state, heads of international organisations, ministers and high-level officials as well as industry and business leaders;
  • Several thematic side events gathering public and private sector leaders and experts on cotton for informative discussions and networking;
  • A partners’ conference organised to leverage resources and catalyse technical expertise specifically towards a new project on technology transfer for the development of cotton by-product value chains in eight pilot African countries;
  • A fashion show to display cotton fashion and designers from different parts of the world with a special focus on Africa;
  • A press conference; and
  • Cotton exhibitions, display booths, a pop-up store, a photo contest, a reception and livestreaming of cotton celebrations around the world.

Representatives from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) will attend the event and Alan McClay, CEO, will moderate a panel discussion organised by the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). Join BCI and industry experts from Cotton Incorporated, C&A Foundation, H&M Group, World Textile Information Network, Esquel Group and Vardeman Farms between 15:30-17:00 CET on 7 October. The panel will address many of cotton’s challenges, including climate change, population growth, plastic pollution, innovation and changing consumer preferences.

In addition, Lisa Barratt, BCI Africa Operations Manager, will deliver a presentation on sustainability issues in the cotton sector in Africa, before participating in a panel discusson focused on market and policy trends in the cotton sector.

For further information and to register, please visit the World Cotton Daywebpage. Online registration must be completed no later than 20 September 2019.

Additional details

The WTO Secretariat is organising the event in collaboration with the Secretariats of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). This event stems from the Cotton-4’s (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) official application for the recognition of a World Cotton Day by the United Nations General Assembly, reflecting the importance of cotton as a global commodity.

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2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference: Speakers and Sessions Announced

The 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference will bring the entire sector together on 12 – 13 June, to shape a more sustainable future for cotton. Join industry leaders and experts in Shanghai for an interactive opportunity to explore topics at field level, in the supply chain and in consumer-facing business.

The scope of the annual conference hosted by BCI has been enhanced this year, and BCI is collaborating with other sustainable cotton standards and initiatives – including Organic Cotton Accelerator, Textile Exchange, Cotton Made in Africa, Fairtrade International and Cotton Australia – to develop the agenda.

Register here.

Confirmed speakers represent the entire cotton supply chain, from cotton farms to retail giants. Join us and hear from many great speakers, including: Christophe Roussel, Executive Vice President at GAP Inc.; Almas Parveen, BCI Field Facilitator and Farmer, REEDS; Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director-General (Programmes) at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO); and Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials, C&A Foundation.

You can look forward to thought-provoking sessions, including:

Keynote sessions

  • Good Business Can Change the World
  • Creating Change in Global Agriculture

Plenary panel discussions

  • Experiences from the Field: Smallholder Farmers
  • Experiences from the Field: Large Scale Farmers

Breakout sessions

  • Women in Agriculture
  • Adapting to a Warmer World
  • Demystifying the Value of Raw Cotton: An Introduction to Value Differences and Cotton Classification
  • And more

Register here.

The conference is sponsored by many globally renowned organisations. We have a variety of sponsorship packages available, please contact [email protected] for more information.

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Registration Is Open for the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference

2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference
Driving Change from Field to Fashion
11 – 13 June, 2019 |Shanghai, China

The 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference will bring the entire sector together in Shanghai on 12 – 13 June, to shape a more sustainable future for cotton. Join industry leaders and experts for an interactive opportunity to explore topics at field level, in the supply chain and in consumer-facing business.

Prior to the public conference, on 11 June, the Better Cotton Initiative will host its Annual Member Meeting to share organisational updates, report on Better Cotton supply and facilitate a new peer-engagement platform.

Register before 15 Febto take advantage of the early-bird registration fees. BCI Members receive an additional 60% discount!

Call for Speakers

This year we are inviting other cotton sustainability standards and initiatives to participate in shaping the agenda of the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference.If you would like to share your ideas, expertise and insights with us, please submit your speaker proposal by 15 December.Learn more.

Sponsorship Opportunities

The global conference provides access to an international audience, prominent stakeholders within the cotton industry and organisations with a commitment to sustainability. We have a variety of conference sponsorship packages still available.Contact[email protected]for further information.

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Driving Change Is a Joint Effort: Call for 2019 Conference Speakers

BCI is taking a new approach to our 2019 annual conference. Transformative change can only happen though collaboration, so we are inviting other cotton sustainability standards and initiatives to participate in shaping the agenda to make the event an enriching experience for all attendees. We have changed the name of the conference to Global Cotton Sustainability Conferenceto reflect this inclusive approach. We are excited to be working with the following organisations in developing the conference agenda: Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Algodão (ABRAPA), Cotton Australia, Cotton Made in Africa (CMiA), Fairtrade, Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) and Textile Exchange.

Crispin Argento,Executive Director, OCA believes that, ”Lasting impact and transformational change in sustainable cotton is achieved through collaboration, sector alignment and knowledge sharing. OCA is excited to work with BCI and other standards to improve the livelihoods of 100 million farming households globally and double-down on our collective impact on the environment“.

In addition to this collaboration, we are also launching aCall for Speakers where the cotton sector is invited to submit recommendations for conference speakers and topics. Our goal is to curate exceptional content, generate debate and ensure that the event is an opportunity to enhance attendees’ knowledge and expertise. You can contribute your ideas through this brief online survey. Please share your thoughts with us by 15 December 2018. Topics can range from presenting evidence-based approaches, to sharing unique viewpoints that have not been included in previous conferences.

We look forward to seeing you in Shanghai next June!

Event details:

2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference

Driving Change from Field to Fashion

Shanghai, China |11 – 13 June 2019

11 June: BCI Annual Member Meeting

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Better Cotton Field Trips Connect the Cotton Sector

BCI hosts annual field trips to China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and the USA – creating an open and transparent space where members can meet directly with licensed BCI Farmers and Implementing Partners. BCI Farmers and Implementing Partners have a platform to highlight the successes and challenges of more sustainable cotton production, and members are able to see first-hand the sustainable practices that are being implemented on the ground.

This year, BCI has hosted trips in China, Pakistan and the USA, with a forthcoming trip in India planned for late November.

USA |13 – 14 September 2018

A total of 50 attendees from across the cotton supply chain were able to experience cotton agriculture in West Texas, USA. Attendees visited two cotton farms and the Quarterway Cotton Gin, dissected cotton plants, and toured the Texas Tech University Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute. Representatives from American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Inc., IKEA, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, C&A Mexico, Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and Texas Alliance for Water Conservation were among those who attended.

”The tour was very educational and informative. I especially enjoyed the research institute tour, as well as hearing directly from the farmers.” – Anonymous.

China |25 – 28 September 2018

In Xinjiang, China, BCI’s Implementing Partner, Cotton Connect, gave representatives from Fast Retailing, PVH Corp., Levi Strauss & Co., Target Corp, Cotton On, and Joules an introduction into cotton production in China. Attendees visited two cotton farms during the cotton harvest and met with licensed BCI Farmers Liu Wenchao and Kong Lingqua. They also visited a cotton gin and a state-of-the-art spinning facility during the two-day trip.

”Thank you BCI for organising the field trip – we are leaving with a deeper understanding of BCI and Better Cotton. Thank you for your efforts.” – Levi Strauss & Co.

Pakistan |10 October 2018

Representatives from Bedding House, Hennes & Mauritz AB, the International Labour Organization, Lindex AB, Louis Dreyfus Company and Decathlon SA were amongst those who attended the BCI Field Trip to Matiari, Pakistan, to see how farmers are overcoming cotton production challenges in the region. BCI’s Implementing Partner CABI-CWA organised a farmer meeting so that BCI Farmers could share their success stories and examples of best practice with the group. After a visit to the cotton fields, attendees visited a nearby gin.

”We are thankful to BCI for organising such a great workshop and field trip. The trip provided us with lots of information and really showed BCI’s dedication and the achievements they have made over the last few the years. We hope such events will continue.”– Lindex.

It’s not too late to join us for a BCI Field Trip!

Our final trip of the year is taking place in Maharashtra, India, on 27 – 29 November. Find out more and register here.

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Save the Date: 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference

We are delighted to announce that the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference will take place in Shanghai, China on 11 – 13 June, 2019.

If you want to know what to expect at the conference, take a look at our 2018 highlights in the video below.

The BCI 2018 Global Cotton Conference was BCI’s largest event to date. More than 340 people from across the cotton sector came together to collaborate on a more sustainable future for cotton.

You can find a summary of the 2018 conference and further detailshere.

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Better Cotton 2018 Global Cotton Conference: Highlights

This week, the BCI 2018 Global Cotton Conference brought the entire sector together on 27–28 June, to collaborate on a more sustainable future for cotton. We have now reached the end of the conference and would like to share our top five highlights with all of you who could not join us in Brussels, Belgium, this year.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 1969 we saw the Earth for the first time, and in doing so it sparked a movement towards protecting it. Brice Lalonde, former sustainability advisor to the UN, opened the conference with a powerful and energetic talk on the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals and their power to drive positive change. The SDGs provide a clear framework for global action which sits above country borders and political landscapes.

Scaling Demand and the CottonUp Guide

Dr. Sally Uren, CEO at Forum for the Future and Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials at C&A Foundation, launched the new CottonUp guide at the conference. CottonUp is a guide to sourcing more sustainable cotton and aims to equip retailers and brands with information to increase their sourcing volumes of more sustainable cotton. Take a look athttp://www.cottonupguide.organd share it with your colleagues.

BCI Farmer Panel

Three BCI Farmers, Zeb Winslow III (USA), Vinodbhai Jasrajbhai Patel (India) and Almas Parveen (Pakistan) shared their captivating personal stories with conference attendees. Due to Pakistani visa issues, Almas, unfortunately, could not attend the conference in person, but gave her heartfelt account via video. From challenging gender inequality, to training their peers, to implementing innovative sustainable practices, this insightful and emotive session brought more sustainable cotton production to life.

Breakout Sessions

Numerous and varied breakout sessions during the two-day conference allowed attendees to choose from field level, supply chain or consumer facing topics of interest. Breakout sessions were interactive, and the audience participated with panellists to address key challenges and solutions in the sector.

The Harvest

Throughout the conference, a graphic recorder encapsulated key points from each session and brought these ideas to life visually. This culminated in a highly participatory session called “The Harvest.’ The session prompted attendees to think ahead to 2030. Discussions were focused on stories of success and progress, hopes for the future in the cotton sector, the greatest opportunities available to us now, and actions required for change.

Thanks to all of the presenters, panellists and participants, the BCI 2018 Global Cotton Conference has been a great success. We look forward to seeing everyone next year in Shanghai, 11-13 June 2019.

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Sustainable Development: Q&A with Brice Lalonde

Brice Lalonde, former sustainability advisor to the UN Global Compact, has built an inspiring career dedicated to sustainable development and the environment. His profession has seen him working with environmental NGOs, as a minister in the French government and as a climate change negotiator, among other important roles.

Brice will be sharing his knowledge and insights as a keynote speaker at the BCI 2018 Global Cotton Conference. His talk will focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, how they are influencing all industries, and the implications for agriculture. He will also explore how climate change is likely to influence decision making in the next decade.

We caught up with Brice ahead of the conference to get his thoughts on how we should be tackling sustainability challenges.


How can sustainable development effortsaddress some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges?

Sustainable development requires a holistic approach. Using water as an example, (I work in the areas of water and climate) you cannot manage water if you do not take into account the full picture. Looking upstream you have the environmental features of the water catchment area; the weather conditions, whether there is rain or drought, whether there are wetlands and riparian forests. Looking downstream you need to consider how water is being used; the efficient and fair distribution of water to the urban dwellers, to rural farmers, to farmed animals such as cattle, to wild animals and to industries. Then we need to consider how we clean the water to reuse it. All of these elements are interconnected. In some places of the world, water is very scarce, and over pumping of underground fossil water, although seen as an immediate solution, could lead to disaster in the future. Sustainable policies, cooperation and collaboration are key to addressing the water challenge.


Do you think multi-stakeholder efforts can be effective in addressing key sustainability challenges?

I believe multi-stakeholder alliances are the most effective way to tackle sustainability challenges, and I think the Better Cotton Initiative is a good example of such an approach. Inter-governmental negotiations can be slow; nation states don’t always tolerate interference nor any form of supranational control, and they cannot act beyond their borders. Therefore, there are challenges. Building an international coalition of corporations, NGOs, local governments, universities and media, all focussing on very targeted goals with a system of accountability of its own is much more effective in addressing key sustainability challenges. Nation states have now done their job. They have adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and they have signed The Paris Agreement, which brings all nations together for the common cause of undertakingambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. We know what the international community wants. Inside this framework we hope to see a flourishing of multi-stakeholder projects that will combine the strength and competencies of each member to address key sustainability challenges.


BCI stewards a holistic Standard that incorporates economic, social and environmental elements of sustainability. How do you see each of these elements working together to affect real lasting change?

There is no way of addressing the world’s challenges if the different dimensions of sustainable development are not intertwined properly. In one corner of the triangle, the life of the population and their economies are embedded in nature. If nature is destroyed, the pattern of a society and the basis for the economy will be ruined. In the second corner of the triangle, a stable and healthy society is connected to a thriving economy, and you need a strong economy to steward the environment. Social justice and gender equity are probably the most important conditions in order for people to feel useful to the community and be happy to be in that community. There is a strong risk of unrest if inequalities widen and if people are disadvantaged. And in the third corner of the triangle, a society needs to create wealth for the long term. Today a lot of corporations want to contribute to the common good while pursuing their mission. Although they have one constraint: not to lose money. We can see that each point of the triangle is connected, and all elements of sustainability have an impact on one another.


Join us for the BCI 2018 Global Cotton Conference.

Toward 2030: Scaling Impact Through Collaboration

Brussels, Belgium | 26 – 28 June

Register here.

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