Better Cotton Launches Revision of the Better Cotton Standard

Better Cotton has launched an ambitious revision of the Better Cotton Principles & Criteria – one of the key instruments of the Better Cotton Standard System, which work together to drive the cotton sector towards a more sustainable, more equitable and climate-friendly future.

The Better Cotton Principles & Criteria lay out the global definition of Better Cotton through seven guiding principles. Today, the principles are applied by more than 2.7 million cotton farmers around the world. By following these principles, farmers produce cotton in a way that is measurably better for themselves, their communities, and the environment.

Strengthening the Standard

The revision process aims to strengthen the Better Cotton Principles & Criteria to ensure they continue to meet best practice, are effective and locally relevant, and align with Better Cotton’s 2030 Strategy. Over the last five years, we have seen increasing focus on areas such as climate change, decent work, and soil health, and the Principles & Criteria revision is an opportunity to ensure the Better Cotton Standard System aligns with leading practice and supports our ambitions to drive field-level change. 

At Better Cotton, we believe in continuous improvement – not only for Better Cotton Farmers, but for ourselves as well. In line with codes of good practices for voluntary standards, we periodically review the Better Cotton Principles & Criteria. This helps to ensure we keep up with innovative agricultural and social practices, and the latest scientific and technological research.

The revision process will include extensive consultation and engagement from all Better Cotton stakeholders, from producers and worker representatives to technical experts, other cotton initiatives, and retailers and brands. The revision process is expected to run from October 2021 through to early 2023.

Get involved

Join a working group

The revision process will be supported by several technical working groups, who will work closely with Better Cotton to revise the current sustainability indicators within the Principles & Criteria. If you have expertise in one of the thematic areas below and are familiar with the Better Cotton programme and Principles & Criteria, we invite you to apply to be a part of a working group.

  • Decent Work & Gender
  • Crop Protection
  • Natural Resources Management

Learn more and apply for one of the working groups via the dedicated revision webpage.

Stay informed through public consultations

There will be a public consultation period in late 2022. More details will be communicated to interested stakeholders closer to the consultation period.

If you would like to be kept up to date with the revision process, or contribute to the public consultation process, please submit your email address through the revision webpage.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the revision process, please contact the Better Cotton Standards Team at: [email protected]

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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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