For our latest work on cotton, please visit our Cotton 2040 project page.
Cotton is one of the most widely grown crops, provides livelihoods for more than 100 million farmers and supplies one third of global fibre demand. Most of the current methods of production are unsustainable; however, this doesn’t have to be the case. Our challenge is to explore how to scale up production of sustainable cotton.
What we did
Using Fashion Futures scenarios we explored possible future contexts for cotton production and use. This exploration allowed us to gain a clear understanding of future trends that could impact the future of the cotton industry, and from that we created four scenarios as a tool for understanding how these trends might play out in the future and how the industry could respond to uncertain factors.
We then collectively developed this shared vision of a sustainable cotton industry:
"Cotton is the most sustainable and therefore most desired fibre. Collective actions of stake-holders in the cotton industry ensure the fibre makes a positive impact on people and the environment along the entire value chain."
To fulfil this vision, the cotton industry and its stakeholders would ensure that:
- Ecosystem assets are valued and protected
- Sustainable livelihoods are available to all producers
- Closed loop production is the norm
- Collaboration and transparency extends throughout the supply chain
- Sustainability defines product value
The shared vision was launched at Berlin Fashion week in 2012 and since then, the Cotton Futures scenarios have been used in numerous industry workshops to provoke thinking and action within organisations.
Get in touch
We are here to help you use the resources we've developed. Get in touch with Alexa Schubert to learn how Forum for the Future can help your organisation work toward a sustainable future for cotton.
- Read our Collaboration Guidebook: initiating, building and managing collaborations for long-term success
- Read about our work with Levi Strauss and Co to develop scenarios for a sustainable fashion industry in Fashion Futures.
- Find out more about our latest cotton initiative, Cotton 2040.
- Watch the video below by the Initiative for Sustainable Cotton for an overview of the key challenges facing cotton and what consumers can do to promote sustainability within the industry.