Two Days Left to Register to Attend the Better Cotton Conference in Person

There are just two weeks to go until we bring our global cotton community together at the Better Cotton Conference in Malmö, Sweden and online. In-person registrations close on Wednesday 8 June at 17:00 CEST and we encourage you to purchase your tickets today to secure your place. Virtual registration remains open until Tuesday 20 June, 17:00 CEST.  

Keynote Speakers

Panellists

We have a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers and panellists, including Better Cotton Farmers and representatives from across the cotton sector and beyond. You can look forward to hearing insights from the following organisations:

Tony’s Chocolonely
Fashion Declares & People Tree
EU Commission
FAO
WWF
Textile Exchange
ABRAPA
GAP UNDP
Landscape Finance Lab
Laudes Foundation
Quantis
Vardeman Farms Partnership

Rainforest Alliance
IKEA
Solidaridad
IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative
FairTrade
Fair Capital
Lupin Foundation
CommonLand Foundation
Walmart
Cotton Australia
British International Investments

Forum for the Future
Somnath Farmer Producer Organisation
ISEAL
Pesticide Action Network UK
Chainpoint
Anthesis Group
Farmer Connect
Delta Project
Wageningen University
JFS Group
Rabobank

Networking and Social Events

As well as a variety of meetings taking place around the conference, in-person attendees can also look forward to the following networking and social events:  

Welcome Reception: Tuesday 21 June, 18:00 – 20:00 CEST
Join us for a welcome reception on a rooftop bar to kick start the conference.  

Networking Breakfasts: Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 June, 08:00 – 09:00 CEST
Our morning networking sessions will provide a great opportunity to meet with peers before the conference sessions begin.  

Better Cotton Conference Dinner: Wednesday 22 June, 19:30 – 23:00 CEST
Experience a summer evening in Sweden with live music entertainment and a three-course meal in a beautifully rustic venue.  

Registration for these events is essential and can be selected during your ticket purchase.  

Join us to engage in insightful sessions, dynamic dialogue and an opportunity to meet face to face with peers once again.  

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More Speakers Announced for the Better Cotton Conference

With just seven weeks to go until the Better Cotton Conference takes place in Malmö, Sweden and online, we are excited to share details on more inspiring speakers who will be joining us!

Join us and hear from speakers across the entire cotton supply chain, from cotton farmers to retail giants, including:  

  • Anita Chester, Head of Materials | Laudes Foundation 
  • Balubhai Parmar | Better Cotton Farmer and Board Member, Somnath Farmer Producer Organisation (SFPO)
  • Brooke Summers, Supply Chain Consultant | Cotton Australia 
  • Christoph Gosdenoz, Founding Partner | FairCapital  
  • Dhaval Neghandi, Associate Director, Climate | Forum for the Future & Cotton 2040
  • Lacy Cotter Vardeman | Better Cotton Farmer
  • Marco Reyes, Senior Director of Sustainability | Walmart Stores, Inc.
  • Mona Kassem, Export and Import Manager | ALKAN Mohamed Nosseir for Trading & Industry  
  • Vamshi Krishna Pulluri, Associate Director Sustainable Agriculture | WWF India 

You can also look forward to thought-provoking sessions in collaboration with: 

  • EU Commission 
  • FAO 
  • WWF 
  • Textile Exchange 
  • Forest Stewardship Council 
  • Rainforest Alliance 
  • Solidaridad 
  • IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative 
  • Fairtrade 
  • Fair Capital 
  • Lupin 
  • ISEAL 
  • Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK
  • Chainpoint 
  • Anthesis Group 
  • Farmer Connect 
  • Delta Project 
  • Wageningen University 
  • GAP-UNDP 
  • Commonland 
  • Landscape Finance Lab 
  • And more

The conference will bring the entire cotton sector together on 22 & 23 June 2022 in Malmö, Sweden and online, to explore the theme of Climate Action + Cotton and collaborate on a more sustainable future for the cotton sector.  

Thank you to our conference sponsors. We have a variety of sponsorship packages available, please contact [email protected] for more information. 

For more details, please visit the conference website

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Better Cotton Announces Conference Keynote Speakers

We are excited to announce two inspiring Better Cotton Farmers — Balubhai Parmar and Lacy Cotter Vardeman — as keynote speakers at the Better Cotton Conference.

The conference will bring the entire cotton sector together on 22 & 23 June 2022 in Malmö, Sweden and online, to explore the theme of Climate Action + Cotton and collaborate on a more sustainable future for this remarkable plant.

Meet the Keynote Speakers

At Better Cotton, we work across all kinds of farm types, sizes and farming contexts in over 20 countries, from smallholders to large-scale mechanised farms. Farmers are at the heart of Better Cotton, and they will be at the heart of the Better Cotton Conference. 

Balubhai Parmar, India

Photo Credit: Better Cotton/Vibhor Yadav. India. 2019.

Balubhai, a cotton farmer from Gujarat, India, is helping to lead an enterprising group of Better Cotton Farmers who founded their own organisation — the Somnath Farmer Producer Organisation — in 2013, putting themselves at the forefront of continuously improving their members’ performance. The organisation helps its members — all of whom are licensed Better Cotton Farmers — to save costs and achieve fairer prices for their cotton, while developing new ways to boost their income.

Farmers don’t believe words alone, they have to see it to believe it. So, we invite farmers to visit the fields of farmers who are doing well and show them the effects of using more sustainable practices. When they see the results, farmers really start believing.” 

During his keynote address, and by participating in our smallholder farmer session, Balubhai will share his experiences of the economic, environmental and social challenges and opportunities facing cotton farmers in India today. 

Hear more from Balubhai in this short video.

Lacy Vardeman, United States

Photo credit: Lacy Vardeman.

Lacy, a cotton farmer based in Texas, US, has a strong love for agriculture as her father’s family has been ranchers in New Mexico since the 1850s, and her husband, Dean, farms cotton south of Lubbock, Texas. Interested in conservation, she helped organise the Sand Hills Area Recreation Association (SARA) which concentrates on conservation and eco-tourism in the Texas Sandhills area of Bailey and Cochran counties.

In Texas, over 90 percent of the land is privately owned. We literally own our state and the minerals and water under our property; therefore, we must be proactive in protecting and caring for our resources.”

Lacy will speak from the large farm perspective, addressing issues and innovations, as well as challenges and opportunities in cotton farming in the US.

By registering for the conference today, you can look forward to hearing first hand accounts from Better Cotton Farmers and to joining thought-provoking sessions on the topics of regenerative agriculture, traceability, gender equality, climate change capacity building and many more. 

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Better Cotton’s COO Joins Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards Judging Panel

Will your organisation be entering the Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards this year? We’re excited that our COO Lena Staafgard will be joining the judging panel, made up of sustainability experts, business founders, thought leaders and activists!

Marie Claire UK’s second annual Sustainability Awards, is a celebration of the brands, organisations, and products that are genuinely implementing change and building a better tomorrow.

If you’re a business with purpose, a sustainable start-up shaping its business model to be as ethical as possible, or a company going the extra mile to positively impact our planet, Marie Claire wants to hear from you and celebrate your hard work. 

The entry deadline is midnight BST, Monday 25 April. Learn more.

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Learn More About Better Cotton’s 2030 Strategy

Today almost a quarter of the world’s cotton is produced under the Better Cotton Standard, and 2.4 million cotton farmers have been trained in sustainable farming practices and are licensed to grow Better Cotton. Our vision of a sustainable world, where cotton farmers and workers know how to cope – with climate change, threats to the environment and even global pandemics – seems within reach. A new generation of cotton farming communities will be able to make a decent living, have a strong voice in the supply chain and meet growing consumer demand for more sustainable cotton. In December 2021, we launched our ambitious 2030 Strategy, along with the first of five impact targets. Learn more in our new video.

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Call for Proposals: Better Cotton Innovation & Learning Project

Photo Credit: Better cotton/Emma Upton

Location: Khujand, Tajikistan. 2019. Description: Better Cotton Farmer Sharipov Habibullo delivers training to neighbouring farmers.

Together with longstanding partner IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Better Cotton has launched a new Innovation & Learning Project to seek solutions that will help Better Cotton and its Implementing Partners accelerate positive impact for cotton farmers around the world.

The Innovation & Learning Project addresses three key areas:

Focus area 1: How can Better Cotton make progress towards its 2030 strategy impact areas?

What we are looking for: Solutions that will help strengthen and make progress towards Better Cotton’s five impact areas for 2030: soil health, women’s empowerment, smallholder livelihoods, pesticides and toxicity, and climate change mitigation.

Focus area 2: How can Better Cotton support farmers adapting their lives to a changing climate?

What we are looking for: Solutions that can help us to identify, modify, and replicate (at scale) relevant climate change adaptation practices, particularly among smallholder farmers.

Focus area 3: How can Better Cotton learn more about the quality of training delivered to farmers?

What we are looking for: Solutions that can help Better Cotton and our Implementing Partners to set up strong monitoring and evaluation systems with feedback loops going back to farmers.

Proposals for any one of the three themes above may include new operational processes, field interventions, behavioural insights, or ways of delivering programme activities in such a way that it benefits more cotton farmers. Innovation also includes taking existing approaches and applying them in new ways, in new regions or in new contexts.

At Better Cotton, we are focused on delivering real impact for cotton farmers and farming communities around the world. This means continuously improving our practices, while looking for innovative solutions to cotton farming challenges. We are delighted to launch this new project in collaboration with IDH and encourage those with experience and expertise in the project focus areas to submit a proposal.

Learn more about the project and find out how to submit a proposal.

This call for proposals is open to existing Better Cotton Implementing Partners and external organisations. The deadline for submissions is 29 October 2021.

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BCI Update on Measuring and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Join us for an update on BCI’s work to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions. During the webinar we will share the results of global research and analysis conducted in collaboration with Anthesis. This will include insight into progress with the quantification of GHG emissions of Better Cotton production, identification of key drivers, and exploration of recommendations for reducing emissions.

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Better Cotton and Regenerative Agriculture: Our Approach

By Chelsea Reinhardt, Director, Standards & Assurance

Regenerative agriculture seems to be on everyone’s radar these days. From new regenerative agriculture certifications to sourcing commitments from big brands, the concept is gaining traction.  

Chelsea Reinhardt

Many regenerative practices are already woven into the Better Cotton Standard System, and as the research and conversations around regenerative agriculture evolve, we are working to deepen our impact along with it. 

Below, we discuss regenerative agriculture as it relates to Better Cotton — from how we define it to our approach moving forward. 

What is Regenerative Agriculture? 

While there is currently no universally accepted definition of regenerative agriculture, it is generally related to practices that promote soil health and restore organic carbon in the soil. These practices may include reducing tilling (no-till or low-till), use of cover crops, complex crop rotation, rotating livestock with crops and avoiding or minimising the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides — practices that have the potential to turn agricultural soil into a net carbon sink.  

Regenerative Agriculture in the Better Cotton Standard  

We don’t currently use the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ in the Better Cotton Standard. However, what is considered regenerative agriculture today is aligned with many of the sustainable farming practices that form the basis of our Standard. Our on-the-ground Implementing Partners in 23 countries around the world support farmers to implement these practices, which can be found throughout the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. 

Regenerative Agriculture in the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria

  • Principle 3 on Soil Health: Better Cotton Farmers are required to implement a multi-year soil management plan which covers enhancing soil structure, soil fertility and improving nutrient cycling, which includes processes such as breaking down of organic matter and soil respiration that facilitates uptake of soil nutrients like carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous. Farmers are encouraged and supported to identify practices that are most appropriate to their local context. These typically include cover cropping, crop rotation, mulching and other regenerative methods.  
  • Principle 4 on Biodiversity and Land Use: Better Cotton Farmers must adopt a biodiversity management plan which explicitly encourages crop rotation and the restoration of degraded areas. 
  • Other Better Cotton Principles: Due to the interconnected nature of sustainable farming practices, regenerative agriculture practices are embedded within other principles as well. For example, principle one on crop protection introduces an Integrated Pest Management Programme to help farmers reduce their pesticide use and principle two on water stewardship details soil moisture practices such as mulching and cover cropping. 

How We’re Diving Deeper into Regenerative Agriculture for Greater Impact 

While we recognise the value of regenerative agriculture practices and support the growing awareness of the role of farming in combatting climate change, we are cautious about making promises about soil carbon contributions while the science in this area is still evolving. For example, although no-till agriculture has been shown to improve carbon sequestration in the short term in many cases, in the long term, the outcomes are less certain. Some studies have shown that even periodic ploughing can reverse years of carbon benefits. Other research points to mixed impacts on soil organic carbon, depending on the content and depth of the soil layer. 

Regardless of the long-term carbon benefits of regenerative agriculture, we will continue to focus on supporting farmers to improve their soil health. This is crucial to enhance long-term soil fertility, reduce erosion and adapt to climate change. It also plays a key role in improving yields and livelihoods for farming communities. 

What’s Next

Climate-smart agriculture practices will play a more prominent role in the Better Cotton Standard after an upcoming revision of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. They will also feature strongly in our 2030 Strategy and connected climate change strategy, which will cover how Better Cotton Farmers and communities can become more resilient by mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, reducing carbon emissions and measuring their progress. 

An approach of continuous improvement is at the heart of both regenerative agriculture and our 2030 Strategy. To that end, we are currently in the process of finalising outcome targets and associated indicators to act as drivers of change for Better Cotton Farmers. The outcome target issue areas will likely include climate change mitigation and soil health. These targets will enable progress to be measured towards the Better Cotton mission and incentivise farmers to find new ways to enrich the environment in and around their farms.  

Stay tuned — we will be sharing more information on these targets and launching our 2030 Strategy at the end of the year.  

Learn more about how the Better Cotton Standard addresses soil health and climate change mitigation and adaptation

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Cottoning on to Climate Change

Cotton 2040 will host a public webinar, drawing on the first ever global analysis of physical climate risks across global cotton growing regions for the 2040s conducted for the Cotton 2040 initiative, to share the key findings and data from the research. The webinar aims to help participants understand how climate change is likely to impact key cotton growing regions and supply chains. The speakers will explore with producers and industry actors what these findings mean for their organisations, and what’s needed to respond to the challenge.

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Sustainability Remains Front of Mind as Better Cotton Welcomes New Members Through 2020

As the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world, BCI works with members across the cotton supply chain – from farm to retail – to ensure there is continuous demand for and supply of Better Cotton, the cotton produced by licensed BCI Farmers.

In the second half of 2020, BCI was delighted to welcome 197 new members, including 24 retailers and brands and 170 suppliers and manufacturers, as well as one new civil society organisation and two new associate members.

You can find a list of all members who joined BCI in the second half of 2020 here.

The latest retailers and brands to join BCI and support Better Cotton are: BIG W, DR Ling Indústria e Comércio, Eterna Mode GmbH, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof GmbH, JD Sport Plc, JYSK, Koton Magazacilik Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S., Lands End, Luxottica Group, Maison Tess, Marc Cain GmbH, Masai Clothing Company, Mustang Group, New Balance Athletics, Inc., Newbale Clothing Pty Limited, Peek & Cloppenburg KG Hamburg, Reiss, Sprinter Megacentros del Deporte SL, Stitch Fix. Inc, Suzhou Les Enphants Children Articles Co., Ltd, The Workwear Group Pty Ltd, Tommy Bahama, Wehkamp and Zimmermann Wear Pty Limited.

In 2020, Koton Magazacilik Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. became the first Turkish brand to join BCI. Mrs G√ºlden Yƒ±lmaz, Koton Board Member, said, ”Sustainability is vital for our business and essential to address our consumers’ changing priorities and needs. As an important step in our sustainability journey, we became the first Turkish brand to become a member of BCI. We are proud to raise awareness of the initiative and Better Cotton in Turkey. We aim to source 10 percent of all our cotton-containing products as Better Cotton by the first anniversary of our BCI membership (November 2021), rising to 60 percent over the next five years.”

DelRio (DR Ling) became BCI’s second Brazilian retailer and brand member in 2020. ”By joining BCI, we affirm our purpose to continuously improve our commitment to the environment and more sustainable practices. Our ambition is to progressively expand our sourcing of more sustainable cotton in the coming decade to reach the target of 100% of our cotton sourced as Better Cotton,” said Carlos Pereira de Souza, President, Del Rio.

BCI’s demand-driven funding model means that when BCI’s retailer and brand members source cotton as Better Cotton it directly translates into increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices. Learn more about BCI’s mass balance chain of custody model.

In addition to retailers and brands, 170 new suppliers and manufacturers joined BCI in 2020. Organisations joined from 25 countries including Poland, Peru, South Korea, Egypt and Mauritius. Suppliers and manufacturers form a critical link between Better Cotton supply and demand, and they ensure increased volumes of Better Cotton can flow through the supply chain.

After a challenging year due to Covid-19, it has been incredibly encouraging to see businesses across the cotton supply chain continue to address sustainability challenges and commit to sourcing and supporting more sustainable cotton,” commented Paula Lum Young-Bautil,Deputy Director, Membership & Supply Chain, BCI.

Through 2020, more than 400 organisations joined BCI, taking BCI’s total membership to just shy of 2,200 members at the end of the year. Find a full list of all BCI Members here.

Learn more about BCI membership.

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Sustainable Agriculture Experts and Better Cotton Partners to Convene for Virtual Event

 
Each year, BCI hosts an event for its field-level Implementing Partners who provide training on more sustainable practices to millions of cotton farmers worldwide.

The annual Implementing Partner Meeting enables BCI’s partners to come together to share best practices in sustainable farming, learn from one another, be inspired by innovations in the field and the market, collaborate and engage in valuable networking.

Across four days in January 2021, more than 100 of BCI’s partners from 18 countries will gather for the first virtual edition of the event. The theme this year is Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption, and sessions will focus on topics such as gender and climate, financing climate action, soil health, restoring degraded areas and commitments to action.

BCI partners will be joined by BCI staff and sustainability experts from Solidaridad, Helvetas, WWF, Forum for the Future, Rainforest Alliance, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), PAN-UK, Care International, the Foundation for Ecological Security, and the Sustainable Agriculture Network.

On the final day of the event, partners will reflect on Covid-19 adaptations and learnings from 2020 and explore how to best prepare for the future.

Highlights and key learnings from the 2021 meeting will be shared following the event. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].

BCI’s 2021 Virtual Implementing Partner Meeting is officially sponsored by Interactio.

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