An effective assurance system is an essential part of any sustainability programme. Assurance refers to the measures put in place to ensure that something meets a certain performance level. Think of it as a quality check — there to make sure everything is running up to standard.

The Better Cotton Assurance Programme ensures that farms and farmer groups meet all the core requirements of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria before they can be licensed to sell Better Cotton. The Assurance Manual is the core document that defines processes, roles, and requirements related to the Assurance Programme.

The Better Cotton Assurance Model

Our assurance model provides a roadmap for Better Cotton Farmers and farmer groups to progress from baseline performance to meeting the core indicators of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, and eventually, to achieving long-term improvement goals. The model has four overarching objectives.

Verify that cotton Producers (Better Cotton Farmers) have met the core indicators of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria before they are licensed to sell their cotton as Better Cotton.

Provide a framework for continuous improvement to ensure that Producers— once licensed — continue to identify priority areas for more sustainable practices, and make progress on these targets over time.

Create channels for ongoing learning by sharing information back to Producers and/or Programme Partners that can help them identify improvement opportunities or compliance gaps.

Flora on the mountains of northern Tajikistan

Measure the sustainability performance of Producers and overall Better Cotton programme impacts through regular collection of field-level (Results Indicator) data.

What Makes Our Approach Unique

Our assurance model is unique from many other standard systems in two key ways:

We aim to balance credibility with scalability and cost-effectiveness. Many certification programmes rely only on third-party assessors to issue licenses or certificates. This can have a high cost for producers and can make it challenging to create effective feedback loops on improvement areas. Better Cotton ’s approach combines assessments by approved third-party verifiers along with assessments by trained Better Cotton staff members, support visits by Programme Partners, and regular self-assessments by producers themselves. This multi-level structure helps keep Better Cotton cost-neutral for small and medium-sized cotton farms. It also means that knowledge from assessments can be more easily fed back and used to inform our capacity building priorities and system improvements.

We recognise that sustainability is a journey of continuous improvement. That’s why Producers are required to make ongoing sustainability improvements in order to maintain their Better Cotton licence, and assessments focus not only on compliance but also on identifying areas where further support or capacity building is needed.


Better Cotton is ISEAL Code Compliant. That means our system, including our Assurance Programme, has been independently evaluated against ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice.

For more information, see

Better Cotton Assurance Manual

The Assurance Manual sets out the main requirements of the assurance model for key stakeholders. It is intended to be a reference manual for Programme Partners, Producers, Better Cotton staff and third-party verifiers to ensure consistent implementation of assurance requirements across all Better Cotton projects.

This version is relevant to all assurance activities for the 2024-2025 cotton season up until the end of 2025. This will be updated in early 2025.

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Better Cotton Assurance Manual v4.4

The Assurance Manual sets out the main requirements of the assurance model for key stakeholders.

Assurance and assessment documents and resources

Reporting templates, assessment checklists, guidance materials and more can be found below.

Assessment Documents and Resources

These documents relate to the assessments taking place in 2024 for cotton grown in the 2024-2025 season. There has not been a substantive change to process in this season. There will be an update for assessments taking place in 2025. For this upcoming revision, a schedule will be made public, including consultation with the relevant stakeholders. However, feedback or suggestions relating to the Better Cotton assurance programme can be submitted at any time to [email protected]

  • Better Cotton Remote Assessment Process – Applicable for Large Farms (LFs) 146.62 KB

  • Better Cotton Remote Assessment Process – Applicable for Producer Units (PUs) 172.65 KB

  • Better Cotton Remote Assessment Process – US Farms 2024 121.55 KB

  • Better Cotton Assessment Process 458.07 KB

    Applicable to all farm sizes

Assurance Outcomes and Systems Review
  • Assurance Model System Review 143.42 KB

  • Assurance Outcomes Report 2022-23 1.67 MB

Third Party Verifiers Resources

Eligibility criteria for Third party Verifiers, approval procedures and Better Cotton approved verifiers lists are available in this section.

  • Approval Procedures for Verifiers 446.57 KB

  • Conflict of Interest Declaration 114.62 KB

  • Better Cotton 3PV Qualifications and Competency Requirements 108.14 KB

  • Better Cotton Code of Conduct – Third Party Verifiers 105.57 KB

Variations/extensions and derogations

The Better Cotton Assurance Manual outlines, in Section 20, the specific cases and their deadlines where variations or extension requests can be submitted; such as variations request for licensing or extension of time to submit the Self-Assessment.

All requests for variations or extensions are to be submitted using this form by the Producer Unit or Large Farm Manager with clear rationale and supporting evidence where required. All variation and extension requests are decided on by the Better Cotton Assurance Manager(s) and decisions will be communicated back to you within 5 working days of receiving the request.

In addition, the Better Cotton derogations process can also be used in exceptional circumstances. More information on those circumstances and the process to follow to request a derogation can be found in the derogation policy.

  • Better Cotton Active Derogation List 23.49 KB

  • Better Cotton Derogation Request Form 81.42 KB

  • Better Cotton Derogations Policy 131.28 KB

  • Derogation 3.1.3 – Locally Adapted Indicators 74.86 KB

Appeals Process and Documents

Better Cotton Appeals Procedure

Producer Units or Large Farms may appeal against a licensing decision by submitting a written application (along with objective evidence) within 10 working days of being informed of a license cancellation or denial.

The Appellant (i.e. Producer Unit Manager or Large Farm) must submit a completed Appeals Submission form found through the link below. All appeal submissions must:

  1. Include a clear rationale for each separate non-conformity being appealed.
  2. Include detailed supporting evidence for each non-conformity being appealed.

Appeal submissions are reviewed and decided by a selected set of members from Better Cotton’s Appeals Committee. Better Cotton aims to communicate final decisions to the Appellant within 35 calendar days of receiving an (eligible) appeals submission.

  • Better Cotton Appeals Procedure 128.63 KB

  • Better Cotton Appeals Submission Form for Large Farms 104.47 KB

  • Better Cotton Appeals Submission Form for Producer Units 105.37 KB

  • Better Cotton Appeals Committee TOR 190.53 KB

  • Appeals Committee Members 2023-24 88.52 KB

Better Cotton License Holders

In the Better Cotton Assurance model, licenses are awarded at the level of individual Large Farms or at the level of Producer Units, covering all farmers within the Producer Unit.

Producers (Large Farms and Producer Units) receive a license to sell their cotton as Better Cotton under the condition that they meet all licensing requirements listed in the Assurance manual.

The list below contains all Producers (Large Farms and Producer Units) that are licensed to sell their cotton as Better Cotton for a specific harvest season (e.g., 2021-22). Licenses are issued for three years, and to maintain an active license a Producer must continue to meet annual requirements. In some cases, a license may be suspended after the harvest date (for example, the Producer fails to submit required results indicator data after harvest). In this case, the Producer remains eligible to sell the recent harvest as Better Cotton but will have their license suspended the following season. Refer to the Better Cotton Assurance Manual v4.2 for more information.

The list of valid license holders in Better Cotton countries is now made public, starting from season 2021-22. As licensing timings vary based on cotton seasonality across the different geographies, the list is regularly updated upon completion of licensing in a country. Please refer to ‘Date updated’ for the latest update date.

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Better Cotton License Holders 2023-24

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Better Cotton License Holders 2022-23

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Better Cotton License Holders 2021-22


Learn more

For any enquiries, please use our contact form.

For information about the assurance model changes, please refer to our FAQs.

Find relevant Assurance Programme documents using the resources section.