Better Cotton Joins Industry Leaders and Experts to Drive Impact on the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Board of Directors

I am very excited to be elected as a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Board of Directors, where I will join leaders and experts from brands, retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, government, academia, and more in guiding the direction of the organisation for exponential impact. As a member of the Board, I will be joining a diverse set of stakeholders to drive systemic change across the consumer goods industry. I am proud to join my peers and fellow sustainability champions as we join together to help the SAC achieve their vision of an industry that gives more than it takes — to the planet and its people.

Last month, Lena Staafgard, COO of Better Cotton was elected to sit as a Director on the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Board (SAC) representing the Affiliate Category of the SAC Membership. The SAC is a global, multi-stakeholder non-profit alliance for the fashion industry. In this position, Lena will work closely with the SAC Leadership Team and other members of the board to drive impact through sustainable production across the global footwear, apparel and textile value chains, including reducing environmental impact and promoting social justice.

As Better Cotton works towards our 2030 Strategy, collaboration across the sector and our membership will continue to be essential in deepening impact and delivering our ambitions to improve lives and livelihoods in rural communities, and transform the cotton sector – for good.

The SAC has been a Better Cotton Associate Member since 2019. Through ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing, we work together to reach cotton farming communities with more sustainable farming practices.

Better Cotton is also a SAC Affiliate Member, joining over 250 leading brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, non-profits, NGOs and academic institutions in the SAC Membership since 2013. We share a common journey as we endeavor to create positive change for people and the planet. We work tirelessly to ensure that the Higg Index performance improvements robustly and factually reflect the environmental performance of Better Cotton as a raw material.

Learn more at the SAC website.

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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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The High Conservation Value Network and the Better Cotton Initiative Enter a Reciprocal Partnership Agreement

We are pleased to welcome the High Conservation Value (HCV) Network as our newest BCI Member. Earlier this month, we entered into a reciprocal agreement, meaning that the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is also a member of the HCV Network.

During the revision of BCI’s Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (2015 – 2017), BCI and HCV Network worked collectively to develop innovative yet simple approaches to introduce theHigh Conservation ValueApproach and effectivebiodiversity management tools, specially designed with smallholder farmers in mind, into the Better Cotton Standard.

The agreement and reciprocal membership follow a number of years of collaboration, during which HCV Network contributed to the revision of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. Last year, we joined BCI to kick-start training on biodiversity management tools with BCI Farmers in Mozambique and India. We look forward to continuing to support BCI,” says OliviaScholtz, Senior Project Manager at HCV Network.

BCI is working to ensure that farms of all sizes undertake a simplified HCV assessment (a field assessment involving the collection of field data, stakeholder consultations and analysis of existing information), prior to converting any land, such as forests, for cotton production.

”In the coming years, we will continue to work together to ensure biodiversity management tools are implemented effectively, especially where support is required to adapt the tools to national contexts. We are very happy to be strengthening our partnership with HCV Network to drive biodiversity conservation,” says Gregory Jean, Standard and Learning Manager at BCI.

Find out how BCI Farmers are protecting and enhancing biodiversity in cotton farming.

About HCV Network

The HCV Network is a member-based organisation that strives to protect High Conservation Values in areas where the expansion of forestry and agriculture may put important forests, biodiversity and local communities at risk. The HCV Network is formed by organisations that use and promote the HCV Approach.

© BCI | Water Stewardship and Land Use Training, Mozambique.

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Nine Sustainability Initiatives Collaborate to Tackle Highly Toxic Pesticides

Today, a coalition of nine sustainability initiatives and standards launched a new “Pesticides and Alternatives’ app, specially designed to reduce the use of highly toxic pesticides in agriculture.

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coalition believe that reducing the use of highly toxic pesticides and offering relevant information about non-chemical pest control alternatives is critical in a world where around two million tonnes of pesticides are consumed every year1and inappropriate or improper use can affect human health, contaminate water sources, food crops and the environment more broadly.

The new app combines technology and scientific knowledge to create an effective and easy-to-use tool for auditors and decision-makers managing farms, fields and forest plantations. The app is available to download via Google Play or iTunes and contains:

  • Access to toxicity information from government authorities, international agreements and/or academic institutions;
  • The restriction status for major standard systems (including the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria3) covering more than 700 pesticide active ingredients;
  • Toxicity information related to all registered pesticides for crop and pest species in Mexico and India, as well as those registered for crops in Brazil, Colombia and Kenya;
  • Non-chemical pest control alternatives for 2,700 pests and diseases, developed by CABI2; and
  • A multi-lingual user interface available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The development of the app was possible thanks to the ISEAL Innovations Fund, the scientific support of the Oregon State University’s Integrated Plant Protection Center (OSU-IPPC), data facilitation from CABI and the collaboration of the IPM Coalition members: Better Cotton Initiative, Bonsucro, Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council, GEO Foundation, Global Coffee Platform, Rainforest Alliance, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, and the Sustainable Agriculture Network.

IPM Coalition members work together towards the common goal of improving knowledge and sustainable use of agrochemicals, including reducing or eliminating highly hazardous pesticides. The app has been launched to make the pesticide information on the Coalition’s online database more widely available for the countries covered.

Download the app.

Find out more about the “Pesticides and Alternatives’ app (video) and the IPM Coalition.

This project was possible thanks to a grant from the ISEAL Innovations Fund, which is supported by the Swiss Government’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER).



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2.CABIis a not-for-profit scientific research, publishing and international development organisation. It is also one of BCI’s long-standing Implementing Partners.

3.One of theBetter Cotton Principlesfocuses on reducing the harmful impact of crop protection practices. In 2018, the Better Cotton Initiative increased its emphasis on environmental principles to strengthen the Better Cotton Standard. Our reinforced approach towards pesticide use and restriction includes phasing out highly hazardous pesticides and banning pesticides listed in the Rotterdam Convention (a treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals).

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Better Cotton Pilot Project Launches in Egypt

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has launched a multi-stakeholder pilot project in Egypt, to train cotton farmers on the Better Cotton Initiative’s holistic approach to sustainable cotton production. The pilot comes as part of a renewed drive in the country to increase sustainability and improve conditions for Egyptian cotton producers.

Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the project is implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation as well as with local and international textile private sector stakeholders. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), in coordination with selected Implementing Partners, will support UNIDO on the activation of the pilot in select areas inEgyptduring the 2018-19 cotton season. BCI will provide guidance, share knowledge, develop materials and provide relevant agricultural and cotton experts.

Approximately 5,000 smallholder cotton farmers will be involved in the initial pilot project, receiving training on the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. By adhering to these principles, existing (licensed) BCI Farmers around the world produce cotton in a way that is measurably better for the environment and farming communities.

“BCI supports all initiatives that seek to make cotton production more sustainable. Egyptian cotton is long staple cotton grown by smallholder farmers. Making the Better Cotton Standard System accessible to smallholder farmers is BCI’s priority – 99% of the farmers BCI works with today are smallholders,” says Alia Malik, Director of Implementation at BCI.

Once thepilotis complete, and in coordination with relevantEgyptian governmental entities and private sector stakeholders, UNIDO and BCI will explore the possibility of supporting the start-up of a direct BCI Programme inEgypt.

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