The Challenge 

Cotton is one of the world’s most important natural textile fibres and supports the livelihoods of millions of people. Increasing the amount of sustainably grown cotton is key to reducing this important fibre’s significant social, environmental and economic impacts and adapting to the negative impacts of the climate crisis. 

While progress is being made, uptake and production is limited, preventing sustainable cotton from mainstreaming. A significant barrier to increased uptake of sustainable cotton by brands and retailers is the lack of consistent, credible and comparable ways to measure and monitor impact data across the wide range of sustainable cotton standards, programmes and codes.  

Our solution

Cotton 2040 is a platform which aims to accelerate progress and maximise 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 funding from Laudes Foundation, Cotton 2040 envisages a sustainable global cotton industry,

  • which is resilient in a changing climate;
  • which uses business models that support sustainable production and livelihoods; and
  • where sustainably produced cotton is the norm.

In order to show more clearly how sustainable cotton brings benefits to cotton growing communities and helps address critical environmental challenges, Cotton 2040 has been supporting a group of major sustainable cotton standards, programmes and codes to find ways to align their approaches to sustainability performance measurement and reporting. We hope that better impact data will give retailers and brands greater confidence to source more sustainable cotton, and support the mainstreaming of sustainable cotton. The collaboration involves the Cotton 2040 Impacts Alignment Workstream and The Delta Project*. 

In a jointly-signed commitment statement published in September 2020, the group – including The Better Cotton Initiative; Cotton Australia (for MyBMP); Cotton Made in Africa; the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CDRC); Fairtrade; Textile Exchange; Cotton Connect and the Organic Cotton Accelerator confirmed their intention that the Delta Indicator Framework will become a credible and shared framework to guide impact measurement and reporting of core sustainability issues of relevance to the cotton sector.  

Sector benefits

The initiatives both intend that, through this alignment, the sector will benefit from:

  • Improved and clearer data to demonstrate significant positive impacts and progress 
  • Reduced effort and cost of impact data collection, including for farmers, certification bodies and other field-workers, through simplification and avoiding duplication of efforts 
  • More credible and consistent data to give confidence to brands, retailers, donors, and other investors in sustainable cotton. 
  • Enabling the industry to talk about cotton sustainability in a more consistent and compelling way. 

The Delta Project aims to be of relevance not just to the cotton sector but to other agricultural commodities. It has been actively engaging with the coffee sector during development of the draft Delta Framework, and is also piloting indicators with coffee farmers in 2020.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis and its dramatic impact on apparel and textile value chains, it is now even more important for brands and the sustainable cotton standards to be able to demonstrate the actual positive impacts of their sustainability efforts on the environment and the people in communities around the world, which are both critical.

View the joint statement and indicator framework

Find out more about the Delta Framework

*Cotton 2040 is convened by Forum for the Future with funding from Laudes Foundation and The Delta Project is delivered by The Better Cotton Initiative with funding from the ISEAL Innovations Fund. 

What next?

In 2020 and 2021 the partners will be testing, refining and planning their transition to these indicators, including piloting them with their farmers and local partners. They intend to start to integrate the relevant indicators into their monitoring and evaluation systems, after they are finalised in 2021. 

The group will continue to actively work to make sure the indicators meet the needs of their farmers and partner organisations, including retailers and brands, and also the wider cotton sector. We hope other organisations across the cotton sector will also support and encourage this shift to a shared and/or aligned impact reporting approach.

Get involved

The signatories are now inviting others (including brands, retailers, certification bodies, international supply chain standards, national production standards, supply chain partners, non-profits involved in sourcing projects and other relevant stakeholders) to engage with the Delta Project as it moves forward, by committing to:

  • Alignment in impact measurement and reporting approaches, in order to facilitate greater transparency and accountability.
  • Actively engage in refinement and further development of the Delta Framework to ensure it develops into something that is relevant and applicable to a wider range of sector stakeholders.
  • Work towards integrating the common core indicators of sustainable cotton farming systems, set out within the Delta Framework, into your own data and reporting systems.

Contact Eliane Augareils for updates on the Delta Framework, opportunities to input and guidance resources as they become available. 

Access the Delta Indicator Framework or download an introductory presentation.

Joint Signatories

Supported by: 

Advisory partners: 

Join Cotton 2040

The window for us to create a resilient and sustainable cotton sector is shrinking fast. Get involved today and join our dynamic collaboration - Cotton 2040 - to help shape the cotton industry to be sustainable and resilient.

Each partner involved in Cotton 2040 has joined in recognition that no one organisation or company can solve the sector’s challenges alone. But we need many more to join - and more funding to make the impact that is needed.

We are now inviting expressions of interest and commitment from organisations wishing to contribute to one or more of these workstreams in 2020 and beyond. 

Find out more
Read more about Cotton 2040’s three-year programme and how you can get involved as a partner. You can also access a recording of this presentation on youtube.

Get in touch
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