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Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v.3.0

Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v.3.0
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Achieving our vision of a world where Better Cotton is the norm and cotton farmers and their communities thrive takes a holistic approach and a rigorous standard to match.

A critical component of the Better Cotton Standard System is the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (P&C), which lay out the global definition of Better Cotton through seven guiding principles.

By following these principles, Better Cotton Farmers produce cotton in a way that is better for themselves, their communities and the environment.

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Additional Normative Documents

  • P&C v.3.0 – Indicators with delayed implementation timeline 96.57 KB

  • P&C v.3.0 – Farm Data Requirements 200.42 KB

  • P&C v.3.0 – Highly Hazardous Pesticide Exceptional Use Process 196.65 KB

Principles and Cross-Cutting Priorities

Our Principles and Criteria are structured around six Principles and the two Cross-cutting Priorities.

As compared to the previous version of the standard, version 3.0 of the P&C has been streamlined and requirements have been strengthened across all thematic areas to ensure they continue to deliver relevant sustainability impact at field-level. The P&C v.3.0 includes a strong focus on social impact, with new requirements around gender and livelihoods, and some major changes in the way we address Decent Work-related issues.

It continues to emphasise the importance of the sustainable use of Natural Resources and responsible Crop Protection measures, and it refers more explicitly to the adoption of measures related to climate action. The new Management principle will help build solid foundations for producers to thrive in all thematic areas, shifting the focus from practice adoption to tangible outcomes.

Principles

Management

Cotton farming households have strong integrated farm management systems in place to ensure field-level sustainability impacts.

We support farming households in operating a well-informed, effective and inclusive management system that drives sustainability impact through continuous improvement and builds transparency and market trust. Good management includes ensuring that collaborative and inclusive approaches are centred, and that the two cross-cutting priorities gender equality and climate action are considered in all decision making.

Cotton farming communities promote regenerative practices, enhance biodiversity and use land and water responsibly

We support farmers in adopting key regenerative practices that improve their soil health, conserve and enhance biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and optimise the quality and availability of water. This is all while increasing crop yield, improving the resilience of farming communities to climate change, and helping mitigate the negative effects of farming on our climate. Together, these practices work to protect and improve the most vital resources to cotton farming communities.

Cotton farming communities minimise the harmful impact of crop protection practices

We support farmers in understanding and implementing Integrated Pest Management approaches. This approach promotes practices to set plants off on a healthy start, promotes non-chemical pest control techniques, and ensures effective pest monitoring in order to reduce reliance on conventional pesticides. Better Cotton also helps farming households phase out the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides, which pose great risks to both the environment and the health of farming communities. Better Cotton also builds awareness on responsible handling of pesticides.

Cotton farming communities care for and preserve fibre quality

We support farmers in adopting good practices from seed selection to harvest, storage and transport of their seed cotton to reduce man-made contamination and trash. This enhances the value of the cotton and leads to a better price for farmers.

Decent work

Cotton farming communities promote decent work

We support farmers in ensuring that all workers enjoy fair and safe working conditions. These include working environments that address risks of child labour, forced labour, workplace harassment, violence and discrimination. This also covers ensuring the freedom to organise and negotiate dignified conditions of employment and providing access to grievance mechanisms and remediation. It includes fair pay and equal opportunities for learning and progression, as well as addressing occupational health and safety risks. All of which ultimately help to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of farming communities.

Cotton farming communities have more sustainable livelihoods and resilience

We work with farmers, workers and their families, particularly women and youth, to address key challenges and help them lead a decent and happy life that is resilient to external shocks.

Cross-Cutting Priorities

Cotton farming communities build resilience to effects of climate change and support mitigating impacts of farming to the climate

We support farmers in identifying and implementing locally relevant practices and activities which help farming communities to build resilience for effects of climate change and/or mitigate its effects across the P&C.

Cotton farming communities work toward greater gender equality

We support farming households in operating a well-informed, effective and inclusive management system that drives sustainability impact through continuous improvement and builds transparency and market trust. Good management includes ensuring that collaborative and inclusive approaches are centred, and that the two cross-cutting priorities gender equality and climate action are considered in all decision making.

By following these principles, Better Cotton Farmers produce cotton in a way that is better for themselves, their communities and the environment.

History and Revision

At Better Cotton, we believe in continuous improvement at all levels of our work – including for ourselves.

In line with the ISEAL codes of good practices for voluntary standards, we periodically review our farm-level standard – the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (P&C). This helps to ensure the requirements remain locally relevant, effective and up to date with innovative agricultural and social practices.

The Better Cotton Principles and Criteria were first developed in 2010 with input from Regional Working Groups in Brazil, India, Pakistan and West and Central Africa, Advisory Committee members, Better Cotton Partners (including experts and critical friends) and public consultation.

The Principles and Criteria were first published in 2010  and were formally revised between 2015 and 2017, and again between October 2021 and February 2023.

The goals of the latest revision were to realign the P&C with new focus areas and approaches (including the Better Cotton 2030 strategy), to ensure it remains an effective tool to drive continuous improvement leading to field-level sustainability impact, and to address challenges and lessons learnt from the past.

The draft of the revised Principles and Criteria (P&C) v.3.0 received formal approval from the Better Cotton Council on February 7, 2023, and the new standard became effective for licensing starting in the 2024/25 season.

The next revision of the Principles and Criteria is planned for 2028.

Credibility

Better Cotton is ISEAL Code Compliant. Our system, including the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, has been independently evaluated against ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice. For more information, see isealalliance.org.

Contact Us

Questions, as well as suggestions for revisions or clarifications to the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, can be submitted at any time through our contact form.

Key Documents

Key Principles and Criteria Documents
  • Terms of Reference for the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v2.0 141.77 KB

  • Standard Setting and Revision Procedure v2.0 1.39 MB

  • Principles and Criteria v.3.0 Translation Policy 105.59 KB

Topic-Related Support Documents
  • P&C v.3.0 – Highly Hazardous Pesticide Exceptional Use Process 196.65 KB

  • P&C v.3.0 – Highly Hazardous Pesticide Exceptional Use Decisions 2024 157.25 KB

2021-2023 Revision Documents
  • Better Cotton P&C: 2021-2023 Revision – Standards Committee Terms of Reference 148.95 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2021-2023 Revision – Overview 191.38 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2021-2023 Revision – Public Consultation Summary of Feedback 9.56 MB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2021-2023 Revision – Consultation Draft 616.07 KB

2015-2017 Revision Documents
  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Standard Setting and Revision Procedure 452.65 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Revision – Overview 161.78 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Revision – Public Report 240.91 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Revision – Synopsis 341.88 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Revision – Q&A 216.27 KB

  • Better Cotton P&C: 2015-17 Revision Process 159.86 KB

Old Versions of the Standard
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Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v2.1

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