The Challenge 

Cotton touches most of us every day. It is a vital commodity for fashion brands and retailers, representing about 30% of all fibre used in the textile sector. Globally, around 30 million hectares are planted with cotton, accounting for more than 2% of total arable land, and producing approximately 25 million metric tonnes of cotton annually. Grown in over 80 countries, cotton production supports the livelihoods of around 350 million people.

However, conventional cotton production can be associated with significant social, environmental and economic impacts, including over-consumption of water, inappropriate or excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers, low incomes of smallholder farmers and soil depletion.

Our solution

The production of sustainable cotton has enormous potential to create positive change. Sourcing more sustainable cotton is essential to reducing the apparel sector’s negative impacts and ensuring future supply.

The Cotton 2040 initiative exists to integrate and accelerate action on critical issues to mainstream sustainably grown cotton. We do this by:

Driving the uptake of sustainable cotton with brands and​ retailers, by helping apparel industry professionals develop and implement sourcing strategies, in particular across multiple sustainable cotton standards such as organic, Fairtrade, the Better Cotton Initiative, amongst others. In June 2018, we launched the CottonUP guide to support brands and retailers take the key steps to sourcing sustainable cotton and fast track progress. Contact Elizabeth Rich for more information or watch a recording of our recent introductory webinar.

Making traceability of cotton easier and more comparable for brands and retailers looking to source across the different sustainable cotton standards, by working with the standards on identifying areas where collaboration can have the the most impact. Contact Fiona Dowson for more information.

Building resilience for millions of smallholder cotton farmers by working with brands, retailers, NGOs, standards and others to equip farmers with the skills, practices and enabling structures to adapt, increase levels of independence and grow cotton sustainably. We are currently identifying the areas where greater alignment of existing activities could make a real difference to smallholders. Get in touch with Louise Rezler if you’d like to get involved.  


Join us in changing the apparel sector for good


Who's involved 

Cotton 2040 is a multi-stakeholder initiative to significantly increase the use of sustainable cotton internationally. Facilitated by Forum for the Future, it brings together leading international brands and retailers including M&S and Target, sustainable cotton standards, existing industry initiatives and other stakeholders across the value chain. It is the first time an initiative of this kind has brought all the sustainable cotton standards together. Cotton2040 is co-funded by the C&A Foundation.