Evidensia: The New Evidence Website Informing Action for a Sustainable Future

ISEAL, WWF and Rainforest Alliance have developed a new website, Evidensia, which brings together credible research into the effects and impact of sustainability initiatives to enable more informed decisions.

Credible evidence underpins decision-making and supports businesses and governments in addressing pressing sustainability challenges at scale.Currently, much of the available information on the impacts of sustainability tools is not presented in an easy to understand format that is useful for decision-oriented analysis. This makes it difficult for decision-makers to easily identify and understand what information already exists about the impacts, effectiveness and business value of sustainability initiatives.

To address this challenge, ISEAL, WWF and Rainforest Alliance have developed a new website, Evidensia, which brings together credible research into the effects and impact of sustainability initiatives to enable more informed decisions.

Evidensia is designed to meet the needs of business leaders, policy makers and researchers. It hosts evidence and information on a range of sustainability supply chain tools and approaches, including standards, company sourcing codes and jurisdictional approaches.

The content on the site covers a whole range of sustainability issues, from climate change and deforestation to biodiversity and water conservation. The content is represented in a variety of formats including independent scientific studies, evaluation reports and case studies. It is also easily accessible and usable through a range of searching, filtering and mapping tools.

Having a site that collates this evidence and information makes it possible to clearly identify research gaps and priorities for researchers and funders. This minimises the duplication or misalignment of research efforts.

Through these efforts, Evidensia can help companies and others identify and implement effective mechanisms for sustainable production and sourcing, and will help improve the effectiveness of sustainability tools and approaches.


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Better Cotton 2019 Annual Report

n 2019, we celebrated the Better Cotton Initiative’s (BCI’s) 10-year anniversary. BCI has come a long way since a visionary group of farmers, NGOs and apparel brands first came together to transform the way cotton is grown

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Better Cotton Drives Measurable Improvements in Cotton Production

In order to produce and sellBetter Cotton, licensed BCI Farmers adhere to the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria(P&C), addressing topics from water use to pest management to decent work. Implementing the Better Cotton P&C enables farmers to produce cotton in a way that is measurably better for themselves, the environment and farming communities.

Farmer results from the 2016-17 season demonstrate the benefits of implementing more sustainable practices around the world.Here are some key highlights from China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey.


  • In Turkey, 83% of BCI Farmers had advanced knowledge of child labour issues.
  • BCI is addressing women’s inclusion, and in China, 37% of farmers who received BCI training on pesticide preparation and use were women.


  • BCI Farmers in Pakistan used 20% less water for irrigation than Comparison Farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in India used 17% less synthetic fertiliser than Comparison Farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in Tajikistan used 63% less pesticide than Comparison Farmers.


  • BCI Farmers in China hada 14% higher yield than Comparison Farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in Pakistan had a 37% higher profit than Comparison Farmers.

Access theBCI Farmer Results 2016-17to see how BCI is driving measurable improvements in cotton production.

Comparison Farmers
The BCI Farmer Results presented here compare the country averages of key social, environmental and economic indicators achieved by licensed BCI Farmers to non-BCI farmers in the same geographic area who are not participating in the BCI programme. We refer to the latter farmers as Comparison Farmers.

Talking About Farmer Results Accurately
Farm results must not be manipulated in any way. Averaging farm results across different geographies undermines the credibility of the data. Should you wish to use results pleasecontactthe Communications Team who will help you craft your Better Cotton story in a way that maintains the integrity of the data.

Gujarat, India. BCI Farmer Vinodbhai Patel (left) together with share croppers, working on his farm. © 2018 Florian Lang.

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Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund Reaches 1 Million Farmers

The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund (Better Cotton GIF),managed in partnership with the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), makes strategic investments into Better Cotton projects to support the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in reaching its 2020 targets.

In the 2017-18 cotton season, the Better Cotton GIF invested €9.4 million in more sustainable cotton farming practices in China, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan and Turkey Рreaching and training over one million cotton farmers*.

The Better Cotton GIF Annual Report provides insight into the Funds activities to reach this milestone, with stories from BCI’s Implementing Partners and BCI Farmers in the seven cotton-producing countries.

Access the reporthere.

What is the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund?

The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund (Better Cotton GIF) was launched in 2016, by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).The Better Cotton GIF is governed by the BCI Council, in partnership with BCI Retailer and Brand Members, Civil Society Members and government bodies. IDH is the official fund manager, as well as an important funder.In the 2017-18 cotton season, the Better Cotton GIF directly invested €6.4 million in field-level programmes and mobilised an additional €3 million in co-funding from partners, resulting in a total portfolio value of €9.4 million.

*While the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund reached over one million farmers in the 2017-2018 season, the Better Cotton Initiativeis forecast to reach and train a total of 1.7 million cotton farmers in the season. The final figures will be released in BCI’s 2018 Annual Report.

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Together Is Better: Better Cotton and OCA Focus on Shared Impact Through Collaboration

The Better Cotton Initiative’s approach is geared toward ensuring that as many farmers as possible gain access to knowledge and tools to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of cotton production. We want farmers, their families and communities to experience the benefits of more sustainable production. By 2020, we aim to reach 5 million farmers and ensure that Better Cotton accounts for 30% of global cotton production.

At the same time, BCI plays an important role in growing demand for more sustainable cotton. Strong demand is a key part of the business case for farmers to pursue any sustainability-related designation or certification. Last year, we saw a historic level of uptake, with 736,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton claimed by BCI Retailer and Brand Members – a 60% increase on 2016. At the end of 2017, 42 of 85 retailer and brand members communicated public, time-bound commitments to source 100% of their cotton more sustainably. This momentum is important because, while approximately 15% of cotton is grown more sustainably, only around a fifth of this is actively sourced.[1]

In order to create systemic change within the sector and drive it towards sustainability, BCI recognises the importance of complementing and supporting other responsible cotton efforts. There are millions of farmers without access to training and capacity building on sustainable agricultural practices. Certifications, standards, licensing and other responsible cotton initiatives are working towards the same goal by providing essential support and training at farm-level. To meet their publicly declared sustainable cotton targets, we believe retailers and brands should support these efforts by developing a diverse portfolio, containing a variety of options, such as Better Cotton, Fairtrade, Cotton Made in Africa and organic cotton. To that end, BCI has recognised three other standards as equivalent to the Better Cotton Standard, eliminating duplication and inefficiencies in the market.

BCI is also a proud member of Cotton 2040 – a cross-industry partnership that brings together retailers and brands, cotton standards and industry initiatives to align efforts in priority areas for action. One fellow participant in Cotton 2040 is the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), which unites industry players to grow a prosperous organic cotton sector. Whilst we are working together through Cotton 2040, BCI and OCA are exploring concrete ways that we can strengthen each other’s efforts and reframe the conversation around Better Cotton and organic cotton. This work recognises the global cotton sectors diversity and the value that sustainable cotton brings to farmers, brands and retailers and consumers. ”There is plenty of market opportunity and demand for all cotton sustainability standards and certifications to grow and collectively drive the change that is necessary for the sectors longevity,” says OCA Executive Director, Crispin Argento. Imagine a sector where instead of 5 or 10 million farmers using more sustainable practices, 50 or 60 million, or one day, all farmers around the world were growing cotton responsibly, and benefiting from implementing improved practices.

As OCA has stated publicly, this is not a zero-sum game, and we couldn’t agree more. Increased production and demand of all sustainable cotton standards means improved environmental, social and economic conditions for more farmers. It creates movement from the niche to the mainstream and drives change that is both profound and lasting. BCI and OCA have begun to sit down and grapple with the key links that exist between both organisations’ approaches. We are hopeful that we can find ways of working together that ignite further change within the industry. In the coming year, stay tuned for news on how our joint efforts are evolving.

[1]Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017 – WWF, Solidaridad and Pesticide Action Network UK

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Better Cotton 2017 Annual Report Reveals Better Cotton Accounts for 14% of Global Cotton Production

Launched last week at the BCI Global Cotton Conference in Brussels, the BCI 2017 Annual Report reveals thatBetter Cotton now accounts for 14% of global cotton production, a 2% increase on 2016.

The Annual Report celebrates the achievements of BCI Farmers, partners, members and stakeholders from around the world, as we strive together to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future.

In the 2016-2017 cotton season, 1.3 million licensed BCI Farmers in 21 countries produced 3.3 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton lint, enabling a record-level of more sustainably produced cotton to enter the global supply chain.

Annual Report highlights:

  • Take a tour around the globe and meet three people at the heart of more sustainable cotton production. From challenging gender inequality to implementing innovative sustainable farming practices, experience cotton production from the perspectives of BCI Farmers and Implementing Partners in Mozambique, Pakistan and China.
  • Learn about BCI’s global reach in the Global Harvest Report section, which provides global and country-level figures, plus updates on the Better Cotton Standard System.
  • Hear first-hand from BCI Partners and Members’ – Alliance for Water Stewardship, GAP Inc. and Spectrum International – as they speak about their involvement in the “Stakeholder Q&A’s and Podcasts’ feature.
  • Understand the BCI funding model and investment mechanisms, as highlighted in the “Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund’ and “Financial Footprint’ sections of the report.

Explore the complete BCI 2017 Annual Report on the interactive report microsite. A PDF version is available for download.

Thank you to all of our committed stakeholders, who, by supporting and participating in BCI, are developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity and driving change.

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Better Cotton’s Field-Level Partners Reach More Than 1.5 Million Farmers

Last month the revised Principles and Criteria of the Better Cotton Standard System took effect. But how do we ensure these key principles develop into tangible actions and results for those involved in Better Cotton production?

The answer is field-level partners.

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) does not train cotton farmers directly, instead we work closely with experienced partners in the countries where Better Cotton is grown. We call these field-level partners “Implementing Partners’, IPs for short. Each IP supports a series of Producer Units, which is a grouping of BCI Farmers in the same community or region. Producer Unit Managers oversee the training and support of multiple, smaller groups, known as Learning Groups.

Training is delivered to these smaller Learning Groups by Field Facilitators, these are field-based technicians, often with backgrounds in agronomy, who use practical demonstrations in the field. This training focuses on encouraging farmers to adopt agricultural best practice techniques, in line with the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. At current BCI’s 70 Implementing Partners work with approximately 4,000 Field Facilitators across the globe.

Additionally each Learning Group is co-ordinated by a Lead Farmer, who facilitates training sessions for his or her members, creates regular opportunities to discuss progress and challenges, and encourages best practice in recording results. Through this cascade training process, training will be delivered to more than 1.5 million cotton farmers across 22 countries.

Over the coming months BCI will train IPs across the globe on the revised Better Cotton Standard, using an effective train-the-trainer model in China, India, Pakistan, Mozambique, West Africa, South Africa, Turkey and the US. Distance learning will take place for IPs in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Training will provide IP staff with essential updates, valuable materials and best-practice suggestions for farmer training activities. Training will be adapted for different country contexts and tailored to address specific country challenges.

Successful training on the revised Better Cotton Principles and Criteria has already been completed for IPs in China. The BCI China Team organised a three-day cross-learning workshop in Lijiang, Yunnan Province for nine Implementing Partners, who together have a combined reach of 80,000 cotton farmers.

The training addressed all seven Better Cotton Principles and Criteria with an enhanced focus on biodiversity, water management and soil health, with training from Dr. Zeng Nan from The Nature Conservancy, Ms. Zhenzhen Xu from the Alliance for Water Stewardship and Dr. Li Wenjuan from Cotton Connect. IPs shared best practices on Integrated Pest Management and farmer capacity building. Mr. Zhang Wenzhong, Manager of BCI IP Nongxi Cotton Cooperatives said, ”I have learned a lot from the [Better Cotton Principles and Criteria] workshop and from other IPs. I’ve worked as an IP for severalyears and I now have even more confidence in successful Better Cotton implementation in the future.”

Explore our Stories from the Field to see how IPs are driving farm-level change.

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