The aim of the Sustainable Cotton Hub is to expose the sustainability challenges of cotton production, and explore the host of contributing economic, labour and environmental factors. Each paper will provide recommendations on how major stakeholders like retailers, standards bodies, governments and traders, can address these critical issues. A variety of papers will be published later including a closer look at the impacts of hazardous agrochemicals, the realities of labour in cotton and textiles, the projected water risks for cotton growing regions, and the persistent issue of poverty in the supply chain. 

Cotton and Labour

For many smallholder cotton farmers, business as usual means poverty, forced labour, and exposure to harmful pesticides. This is the main message of our newly published Cotton and Labour paper.

The Sustainable Cotton Hub offers up-to-date insights into some of the most intractable issues facing cotton farmers. The paper puts poverty, forced labour and exposure to harmful pesticides into the context of the wider problems facing the industry, and offers recommendations to a variety of actors on how to address them. 

The paper looks at how these issues are inflected by gender, worsened by market volatility, and how new legislation in the EU might serve as a starting point to ending this destructive ‘business as usual’ approach.

Cotton and Climate

Cotton has more potential for sustainability than synthetic fibers, but if retailers and brands don’t change their relationship with cotton farmers and their value chains, the damage to livelihoods, environments, and future production may become irreversible. 

The 2020s are the decade of action on climate change. Everyone in the cotton value chain is being affected by climate change, as well as contributing to it. The need to accelerate our efforts is becoming clearer as more extreme climate events occur, which themselves are affecting cotton production.

‚ÄčThis paper highlights the responsibility of corporate actors in the cotton value chain, most especially consumer-focused retailers and brands, about the need to address cotton production in a changing climate.

Cotton and Corporate Responsibility

The first Paper explores the topic of Cotton and Corporate Responsibility. It highlights the responsibility of corporate actors in the cotton value chain, most especially consumer-focused retailers and brands. The accompanying company rankings look at which large companies are doing the bare minimum of sourcing 100% of their cotton from certified sources.

Companies can create a world where being a cotton farmer does not mean a life of poverty. They can enable producers to adapt and grow cotton in a changed climate. And consumers can buy cotton with the confidence that it has been grown without harming people or the planet. These are entirely achievable possibilities.