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Cotton Groups Ink Pact for Greater Tracking of Sustainability Impacts

Members of the Cotton 2040 Impacts Alignment Working Group, which includes the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Connect, Cotton Made in Africa, Fairtrade, MyBMP, the Organic Cotton Accelerator and Textile Exchange, have jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)–“The Sustainable Cotton Aligned Impacts Measurement and Reporting Joint Commitment.”

During 2019 and 2020, the groups have worked collaboratively within the Cotton 2040 Impacts Alignment Working Group to align sustainability impact indicators and metrics for cotton farming systems. The MOU sets the intention that the “Delta Framework”–a core set of indicators addressing key social, economic, and environmental issues relevant to sustainable cotton–will become a credible and shared guide for impact measurement and reporting of core sustainability issues of relevance to the cotton sector.

The two-year process was facilitated by international sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future as part of the Cotton 2040 Initiative, working in close collaboration with the Delta Project. All partners in this initiative have a shared ambition to harness the benefits from more aligned impact data measurement and reporting.

The groups noted that the Delta Framework is voluntary and intended to apply worldwide to any cotton and coffee farming system, with the potential to be expanded to other agricultural commodities over time. Ultimately, this common indicator set will help brands and retailers to confidently track the impact of their sustainable cotton sourcing decisions, support upgrading of farmer services to encourage continuous improvement at the farm level and facilitate increasing transparency and communication with consumers.

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BCI said it’s important to measure the impacts of cotton-producing communities and shared environmental challenges. During 2020 and 2021, BCI said it will continue to work with the Delta Project team to help test and refine the indicators and data collection and reporting methodologies. This will include piloting them with farmers and local partners as soon as local circumstances allow to ensure the indicators and methodologies meet the needs of cotton farmers and partner organizations, including retailers and brands, and also the wider cotton sector.

Cotton 2040 Impacts Alignment Working Group members signed an MOU for shared impact measurement and reporting of sustainability issues.

“The Delta Project was initiated by BCI to respond to the needs of our stakeholders to have access to harmonized information on the outcomes of the different sustainability programs implemented at farm level,” Eliane Augareils, monitoring and evaluation manager at BCI, said. “Beyond the development of a common sustainability framework, BCI will ensure that farmers will also benefit from the data they provide, both through learning opportunities and more informed decision making, as well as through better access to more targeted services.”

Cotton 2040 is a platform that aims to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of existing sustainable cotton initiatives, bringing together leading international brands and retailers, sustainable cotton standards, and other stakeholders across the value chain. Facilitated by Forum for the Future, with support from Laudes Foundation, Acclimatise, Anthesis and the World Resources Institute, Cotton 2040 envisages a sustainable global cotton industry that is resilient in a changing climate, that uses business models that support sustainable production and livelihoods, and where sustainably produced cotton is the norm.

The Delta Project is a joint effort of BCI, the Global Coffee Platform, the International Coffee Organization and the International Cotton Advisory Committee, and is supported by the ISEAL Innovation Fund.