Category: Cotton 2040

Cotton 2040: Interview with CottonConnect’s Hardeep Desai

Cotton 2040: Interview with CottonConnect’s Hardeep Desai

As part of the Cotton 2040 initiative’s Planning for Climate Adaptation workstream, climate two new studies were published describing the potential climate impacts to the cotton sector. The reports, one a global analysis of climate risks to cotton production in 2040, and the second a detailed climate risk and vulnerability assessment of cotton-growing regions in India, were launched alongside an interactive Climate Risk Explorer Tool. Together they are designed to help the industry take joined-up, informed and responsible action to build resilience to climate change.

In the light of the reports’ findings, we spoke with Hardeep Desai, Senior Director and Head of Farm Operations at CottonConnect South Asia, to get his reaction. CottonConnect is a social enterprise that works with retailers and brands to create business benefits by creating a more sustainable cotton supply chain. It is also a member of the Cotton 2040 Working Group.

Overall, how prepared are farmers for climate change?

The farmers enrolled in CottonConnect’s Sustainable Cotton programmes, such as the REEL Cotton Programme and Organic Cotton Programme, currently benefit from the educational and technical guidance provided by the CottonConnect team. As a result, they see positive results on their harvest with lesser use of pesticides, higher yield, saving water and turning around crop production as per weather suitability. 

Farmers face the brunt of the harsh climatic conditions but don’t have a strong collective voice yet required to bring changes on an environmental level. While most farmers do not know that some of the challenges they face are due to climate change, many of them are aware of steps to be taken in their farms. For example, in case of excess rain and waterlogging issues, they focus on good farm drainage and remove the water from the farm as early as possible using labour and other equipment. 

Some farmers know the solutions but do not have technical support or knowledge to implement them. Connecting farmers’ challenges with climate change initiatives and training and supporting them technically on climate-smart agriculture will hold the key. The farmers can foresee that the future will be tough, but the current focus also remains heavily driven on day-to-day sustenance.

Why and how will climate change impact women in particular? How do the findings from your study complement and support the Cotton 2040 analysis?

CottonConnect interviewed experts from five local partner organisations and conducted five focus group discussions, with around ten women farmers in each group, from REEL Cotton and Organic programmes, in India and Pakistan. As a result, we learned that climate change is already affecting all areas of women cotton farmers’ lives while they are on the farm or caring for their family or livestock or at home, which has a profound impact on their income, time and health.

These findings from our study complement and support the Cotton 2040 analysis. Both strongly indicate that the main climatic conditions will include acute water shortage, a higher number of days with increased temperature, average annual rainfall in fewer rainy days, prolonged dry spells between two rounds of rain affect the crop, thereby posing a threat to the livelihood of women farmers.

The Cotton 2040 analysis of the physical impacts of climate change on cotton production provides a valuable prediction for organisations working to impact the environment and women farmers positively.

How do these findings / your increased understanding of the climate impacts on the cotton sector impact your work? What’s most striking or relevant?

The changes in the climatic conditions will profoundly affect the farmers’ income, specifically in India and Pakistan, where agriculture and cotton crops play a crucial role in the countries’ economies. The economic impact will also deepen the labour-intensive farmers’ health issues who will continue to work manually in such extreme conditions.

CottonConnect will have to work much more closely with the farmers to educate and alleviate the changes in their livelihood in a much more focused manner backed by government laws, research and best practices. We will have to create climate-smart, climate-resilient farming communities that can understand the challenges caused by climate change on their farms and livelihoods and practice farming in a smart way. We want to partner with other organisations, too, who would like to support farmers in terms of technology and other interventions to address climate change issues.  

How are you already working to build climate resilience, e.g., with female cotton producers?

To understand the practical impact of climate change on rural communities, CottonConnect conducted a scoping exercise, including interviews and focus group discussions, to identify areas for future research and action. The findings from this study illustrate the specific ways in which women cotton farmers are affected by climate change.

Additionally, we educate the women farmers to improve farm profitability, adapt their crop planning according to the changing climate cycle, and work on gender-specific training on sustainable and socially responsible agricultural practices.

How do you plan to use the results from the Cotton 2040 study to feed into your work, e.g. with producers and brands?

The results and suggestions from the Cotton 2040 study will be shared across the supply chain cycles and sustainable departments of the brands and forums with which CottonConnect works. 

As a social organisation that focuses strongly on the farmers’ human, environmental and economic development and the brands it works with, we will work very closely with all our partners to reduce and minimise extreme weather events and temperature rise. We would also create a cadre of trained women as climate-smart change leaders who can work at the grassroots level and guide farming communities about climate change issues for a longer time period. These climate-smart leaders will act as a bridge between farmers and CottonConnect to bring change at the grassroots level. For this, we would be happy to collaborate with other agencies.

We will work on newer technological advancements and better farm management practices to improve irrigation systems.  And work with government bodies and other national and global agencies to develop climate-smart agricultural research and interventions for long-term impact.

Fashioning a climate resilient cotton sector

Fashioning a climate resilient cotton sector

By Charlene Collison and Ulrike Stein

Why understanding the climate threat to cotton is essential for preparing a cross-sector response.

As the Cotton 2040 initiative publishes two new studies highlighting the potentially drastic impacts the climate crisis could have on cotton production in India and globally, Forum for the Future’s Charlene Collison and Ulrike Stein explore the urgent need for businesses to move beyond mitigation efforts and firmly shift their focus on adaptation measures in order to create a climate-resilient cotton sector.

The climate crisis will impact every detail of our lives, right down to the clothes we wear, the towels we use and the sheets we sleep on. The future of cotton, the world’s most widely produced natural fibre, will be affected, often dramatically, by changes in the climate.

Indeed, climate breakdown is arguably the biggest and most complex of the many pressing social and environmental challenges threatening the cotton sector’s future resilience. Rising temperatures, changes to water availability and extreme weather events are already affecting crop production around the world, while the sector itself of course also contributes to climate change.

However, most industry-wide conversations and plans don’t address the scale of change that the climate crisis will force upon the industry, and the world. Importantly, a key barrier has been the lack of information on the potential climate impacts on the cotton sector. The Cotton 2040 initiative aims to change this.

Tackling the information gap: two new studies

Cotton 2040 is a multi-stakeholder initiative facilitating the shift to a sustainable global cotton industry which:

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

As part of its Planning for Climate Adaptation workstream, climate-risk specialists Acclimatise (part of Willis Tower Watson’s Climate and Resilience Hub) have conducted two unique new studies, using a worst-case climate scenario.

The reports have today been published alongside an interactive Climate Risk Explorer Tool. Armed with information, the industry is better placed to agree on priority areas for joined-up, informed and responsible action.

The world’s first Global Analysis of Climate Risks to cotton growing regions provides a high-level analysis of physical climate risks across all major global cotton-growing regions for the 2040s.

Key findings include that, by the 2040s, all global cotton-growing regions will be exposed to increased risk from at least one climate hazard, with half of all cotton-growing regions facing high or very high climate risk exposure to at least one climate hazard. All six highest cotton-producing countries – India, USA, China, Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey – are exposed to increased climate risk, particularly from wildfire, drought and extreme rainfall. 

A Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment of cotton growing regions in India considered a total of 41 climate hazard, and socio-economic indicators to assess the risk to cotton cultivation as well as cotton processing in 13 districts across three of India’s major cotton-growing states: Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Key findings include that, by 2040, all cotton-growing regions across India will be subject to greater heat stress than under present-day conditions. The study also highlighted that common areas of vulnerability across all districts include multidimensional poverty, low female work participation rates, low male and female literacy rates, and limited access to banking services, technology and information.

The 12 climate indicators covered are: growing season length, heat stress, total rainfall during the growing season, extreme rainfall events, long-term drought, short-term drought, fluvial flooding, coastal flooding, strong winds, storms, wildfire and landslides.

What do these findings mean for the cotton sector?

Firstly, mitigation efforts alone just won’t be enough. The Net Zero commitments made by countries and some companies don’t stack up to what’s needed to keep global heating within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. A certain level of chronic and acute climate hazards is now baked in, and we must look beyond mitigation to adaptation.

Secondly, the environmental and social impacts of climate change are going to impact every single link in the cotton and wider textile value chain. And those who are already the most vulnerable, will be affected the most. Therefore, these impacts cannot be tackled in isolation.

Thirdly, resource scarcity or unequal distribution could potentially trigger societal disruption, possibly leading to conflict or even war. This will not only impact production, but also the transportation and distribution of goods. We cannot presume that current supply chains will continue as a viable or predictable part of the future.

How should the sector respond?

Preparing for the changes ahead requires a response that goes beyond incremental solutions to fundamental changes. The findings call for nothing less than a collective re-imagination of where, how and why cotton is produced, and transformation of the cotton value chain to be sustainable, resilient and just. This will require three key things:

1)Resetting ambition: looking beyond mitigation to also focus on adaptation

Organisations across the cotton value chain need to make bold commitments and take urgent action to decarbonise their organisations and supply chains through their mitigation plans, in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. And at the same time, the focus needs to shift to also developing robust adaptation plans to be prepared for the effects of the climate crisis.

2)Ensuring just transitions: climate justice must be at the heart of the sector’s response

Investing in climate justice and socio-economic resilience is investing in climate resilience. Already vulnerable members and parts of the cotton value chain will come under even greater pressure and stress. The climate crisis will only add to the sector’s deeply entrenched environmental, social and economic challenges. For the around 350 million people whose livelihoods are linked to cotton growing and processing, and especially for the millions of smallholder farmers and their communities, the potential implications are tragic.

3)Building capacity for more systemic mindsets and joined-up thinking

A systemic threat requires systemic solutions. If we are to respond proportionately to the impacts of climate change, we must focus on more than changes in the weather. We need to find ways to build environmental and social resilience into supply chains, and also halt the downward spiral of the most vulnerable.

Building sector wide conversations on climate change adaptation and resilience

Navigating planning for these multiple potential futures – the one we must aim for through mitigation efforts, and the ones we must nonetheless be prepared for through adaptation planning – is the critical challenge that the cotton sector is facing.

The Cotton 2040 initiative urges people and organisations from across the cotton industry to use this data and analysis to think radically about the future of cotton. But we particularly call for the findings to be used as a resource to make decisions together about how the industry needs to work, from how cotton is produced, transported, and used; to strategies, business models, financing and more.

We invite you to join us on this mission.



Join us. Over 2021 and 2022, Cotton 2040 will be working with cotton producers, brands and retailers and industry initiatives to develop a common understanding across the cotton system as to how climate change is likely to impact key stakeholders and regions, and agree on a shared set of priorities for urgent as well as long-term action across the cotton sector. Stakeholders interested in joining the conversation are invited to contact Hannah Cunneen.

Convened by Forum for the Future and supported by Laudes Foundation, Acclimatise, Anthesis and the World Resources Institute (WRI), Cotton 2040 brings together existing initiatives in the cotton sector to align around critical issues for – and accelerate the transition to – long term sustainability. To access the reports, supporting resources and the interactive Climate Risk Explorer tool, visit https://www.acclimatise.uk.com/collaborations/cotton-2040/.

Half of all cotton growing regions face severe climate risks by 2040 if carbon emissions continue to soar

Half of all cotton growing regions face severe climate risks by 2040 if carbon emissions continue to soar

The first-ever global analysis of climate risks to global cotton production reveals that runaway climate change could expose half of all global cotton growing regions to high risks from temperature increases, changes to rainfall patterns and extreme weather events by 2040.

Titled “Adapting to climate change – physical risk assessment for global cotton production”, the analysis was commissioned by the Cotton 2040 initiative, which is facilitated by international sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future and supported by Laudes Foundation. The analysis was conducted by Cotton 2040 partner and climate-risk specialists Acclimatise, part of Willis Tower Watson’s Climate and Resilience Hub.

Under a worst-case climate scenario, the analysis highlights that all global cotton growing regions will be exposed to increased risk from at least one climate hazard by 2040. While this increase ranges from very low to very high risk, half of the world’s cotton growing regions will face drastic changes with high or very high-risk exposure to at least one climate hazard. Other key findings include:

  • All six highest cotton-producing countries – India, USA, China, Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey – are exposed to increased climate risk, particularly from wildfire, drought and extreme rainfall.
  • The highest climate risk overall is projected for two regions of the world; north western Africa, including northern Sudan and Egypt, and western and southern Asia.
  • Some regions are set to face high or very high exposure to up to seven climate hazards
  • Cotton exposure to heat stress (defined as temperatures above 40°C) will be an increased risk across 75% of cotton growing regions, with the risk being high or very high across <5% of regions.
  • 40% of global cotton growing regions are projected to experience a decrease in growing season as temperatures increase beyond the optimum temperature range for cotton growing.
  • Water scarcity and extremes in rainfall, from insufficient in some regions to extreme and more intense in others, will present increased risk for the world’s most productive cotton growing regions. This will add extra pressure to a fibre already under scrutiny for its water footprint, affecting yields and potentially threatening to cause conflict and societal unrest.
  • Exposure to increased risk from drought will impact ~50% of cotton.
  • 20% of the world’s cotton growing regions will be exposed to increased risk from fluvial flooding by 2040, and 30% of cotton growing regions will be exposed to increased risk from landslides.
  • All cotton growing regions will be exposed to increased risk from wildfires.
  • 60% of cotton will be exposed to increased risk from damaging wind speeds, and up to 10% will be exposed to increased risk from storms.

Cotton has a market worth of about $12 bn [1], makes up about 31% of all raw material used in the global textile market with a yearly economic impact of over $600 billion [2] and supports the livelihoods of around 350 million who cultivate or process cotton. Approximately 90% of farmers grow cotton on less than 2 hectares (ha) of land and are located in developing countries, mainly in Central and West Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa [3].

The global analysis is complemented by an in-depth analysis of physical climate risks and socio-economic vulnerabilities to the cotton value chain in India. This highlights that climate impacts extend beyond direct impacts to cotton production, affecting the entire value chain, including workers involved in harvesting and processing, as well as supply chains.

References:

[1] and [2] Khan, M.A., Wahid, A., Ahmad, M., Tahir, M.T., Ahmed, M., Ahmad, S. and Hasanuzzaman, M., 2020. World Cotton Production and Consumption: An Overview. In Cotton Production and Uses (pp. 1-7). Springer, Singapore. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-15-1472-2_1

[3] Vivek Voora, Cristina Larrea, and Steffany Bermudez, 2020. Global Market Report: Cotton. International Institute for Sustainable Development. Available from https://www.iisd.org/system/files/publications/ssi-global-market-report-cotton.pdf 

About Cotton 2040

Convened by Forum for the Future with support from Laudes Foundation, Cotton 2040 is a multi-stakeholder initiative to facilitate the shift to 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. Find out more: https://www.forumforthefuture.org/cotton-2040

This global analysis is one of two reports published as part of the Cotton 2040 Climate Adaptation workstream. An additional study provides in-depth analysis of physical climate risks and socio-economic vulnerabilities to the cotton value chain in India. Both reports, alongside an interactive climate impacts map and supporting resources are available at https://www.acclimatise.uk.com/collaborations/cotton-2040/. Over the next 18 months, Cotton 2040 will bring the sector together to dive deeper into the data, understand implications and identify potential industry responses.


Webinar: Cottoning on to climate change

Webinar: Cottoning on to climate change

Date: Wednesday 14 July 2021

Time: 12:30-2:00pm BST / 7:30-9:00am EST / 5-6:30pm IST / 7:30-9:00pm SGT / 9:00-10:30pm AEST

Register here

Global warming could reach 1.5ºC as early as 2030. And yet, despite the Paris Agreement and the ambitious decarbonisation pledges and targets being set by countries and corporates around the world, we are faced with decades of unavoidable climate change. This will have profound effects on agricultural systems, farming communities and supply chains. Preparing today for the changes that will occur tomorrow is essential if we are to limit the impacts of climate change on society.

Climate change is set to pose significant risks to cotton – the most widely produced natural fibre. But what exactly are the potential environmental and social-economic impacts of climate change on key cotton growing regions and the wider industry? What are the implications for producers, brands & retailers, cotton standards and the investor community? And how can the sector come together to use this information to develop responses that not only deliver rapid decarbonisation, but which also build resilience and address climate justice issues? 

Drawing on the first ever global analysis of physical climate risks across global cotton growing regions for the 2040s conducted for the Cotton 2040 initiative (to be published in late June), we will share the key findings and data from the research to help participants understand how climate change is likely to impact key cotton growing regions and the supply chains. We will explore with producers and industry actors what these findings mean for their organisations, and what’s needed to respond to the challenge. 

This webinar will be followed by a series of geography-specific industry workshops in autumn, when Cotton 2040 will bring the sector together to dive deeper into the data, understand implications and identify potential industry responses. 

Join Us

Join this webinar to understand and discuss:

  • Why staying below 1.5C warming is so critical and what urgent adaptation planning needs to happen alongside climate change mitigation, in order to build resilience;
  • What will be the environmental and social impacts of climate change on global cotton production? 
  • How might climate change affect cotton producers, apparel brands, retailers and cotton standards? 
  • What is the role of industry stakeholders in driving rapid decarbonisation, building resilience, and ensuring a just transition?
  • How can you get involved in creating a future-fit and just cotton sector?                                                                                   

Speakers: 

  • Host: Dr Sally Uren, Chief Executive Officer, Forum for the Future
  • Iain Watt, Climate Strategist
  • Erin Owain, Lead Associate – Climate and Resilience Hub, and Alastair Baglee, Director, Corporates – Climate & Resilience Hub, Willis Tower Watson
  • Charlene Collison, Associate Director, Sustainable Value Chains & Livelihoods, Forum for the Future

Further speakers representing the cotton value chain will be announced shortly.


Why we need to transform commodity value chains (and what this means for cotton)

Why we need to transform commodity value chains (and what this means for cotton)

By Charlene Collison

When conditions in a system change to the point where it can’t cope, the system either dies or transforms. This is true for natural systems, and also for complex human-created systems like global value chains. The COVID-19 crisis is revealing cracks in commodity value chains, and society now has to make a choice: to persist with operating unsustainable supply chain models until they break; or to transform them.

Let’s take cotton: like many agricultural commodities, the cotton system is based on a production model that inherently lacks environmental and social resilience. Unless grown according to sustainable standards, cotton can guzzle increasingly precious water, pollute soils and ecosystems with excessive chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and leave farmers highly vulnerable. It often traps millions of smallholder farmers, who produce the majority of the world’s cotton (over 60%), in a cycle of poverty. In today’s mainstream cotton system, it is normal to pay a price which does not factor in the true environmental or social costs of production, and to award the largest share of profits to actors at the end of the value chain, leaving those who produce it without a living wage and bearing the majority of risk. Critically, the system functions under the assumption that commodities can easily and cheaply be transported around the world in a mobile, international economy.

Changing assumptions around globalised economies, open borders and global value chains

Crises reveal stresses that were already present in the system, but which have been ignored or tolerated because it was still possible for the system to function. COVID-19 is a wake-up call that the conditions required for globalised commodity systems such as cotton to work can no longer be taken for granted. We are already seeing these conditions arrested as apparel companies shut up shop in droves, leaving mills, factories and thousands of workers in their supply chains without support to survive until they re-open. Meanwhile, as anxious consumers invest in food and household essentials, apparel brands are seeing sales plummet, with one estimate predicting at least a 20% drop in brand value. Countries and regions are closing their borders to travel and to trade. Meanwhile, the price of cotton has fallen to record lows. 

Many less resilient, or harder hit actors across the supply chain will not survive this crisis. Scores of brands are already failing. We don’t yet know what the impact of COVID-19 on farming communities will be, as a lockdown is unfeasible for outdoor workers. Most farmers, already growing next season’s crop, lack the resources to cope with the fall in demand, and the continued price drop due to short term oversupply. This may be the year that food trumps fibre as farmers shift to more essential crops, causing devastating impacts on actors further up the supply chain, like ginners and spinners, on which production centres depend. Once lost, this essential infrastructure is unlikely to recover; the cotton system in some areas is likely to change beyond recognition.

More system shocks on the horizon

And this is just the beginning. The knock-on impacts of COVID-19, devastating as these are, are early tremors of a series of climate crises that will profoundly shake the operating conditions for commodities systems. The availability of water, and viable agricultural land, will be scarce. Competition for precious resources is likely to result in protectionist policies by struggling governments. Conflicts and war are likely to follow, interrupting the free flow of goods we now take for granted. With more than four trillion consumer products being made, shipped and sold across the globe each year, the scope of the problem is vast. With production capacity weakened, and the crunch of a major recession, the disruptions brought by climate change are almost certain to take many global commodities systems beyond breaking point.

When the first waves of the COVID-19 crisis is over, systems will not spring back to operate as they did before because the fundamental operating conditions they depend on will have changed. When conditions change, systems have to change with them. If they don’t, or can’t change far or fast enough, they collapse. 

We must grasp the difficult truth that the context for agricultural commodity systems will continue to change, often radically. For them to function in the future, we need to use a narrow window of opportunity to re-shape these commodity systems to be regenerative, distributive and resilient in a post-COVID and increasingly climate-changing world.

Future thinking: cotton scenarios

COVID-19 is showing us, as crises tend to do, that the status quo can take sudden and radical shifts that in times of normalcy we would never admit possible. This is a common experience at Forum for the Future, where for decades we’ve been working with futures thinking and scenarios, exploring them with our corporate and foundation partners to build understanding and prepare for risks and opportunities they may face across the various ways the future might play out. These scenarios are designed to explore plausible versions of the future which work under radically different conditions – including pandemics, closed borders and fortress economies. For those of us who have created and delved into the implications of these scenarios, experiencing the current COVID-19 world feels eerily and disconcertingly all-too-familiar.

Before COVID-19, asking people to question the assumptions that shaped the status quo was often met with polite sniggers of disbelief. Scenarios such as Fashion Futures 2030<2 °C Futures and Cotton 2040 included explorations of the polarities of a globalised, interconnected world vs a localised, fragmented one. They posed questions such as what the world might be like if the economy was no longer global, but nations closed ranks to operate in regional blocs. One of the Cotton 2040 scenarios explored what might happen if climate change or other disruptions meant cotton was no longer grown in certain regions of the world.

Yet once people suspended their disbelief to explore their risks and opportunities, the scenario planning process raised calls for vertically integrated supply chains, alternative sustainable and circular business models, industry-wide net positive and regenerative supply chain goals, and proactive cross-industry climate change planning. In a COVID-19 world, these possibilities no longer seem so far-fetched, but obvious and critical necessities.

Collaborative and radical system change

While we can’t predict the future, the evidence is all too clear that it will be characterised by disruptions, even more severe than the ones we are currently experiencing. This has far-reaching implications for how we need to re-structure our societies, expectations and way of life. For agricultural commodity value chains which provide so many of the basic products on which we depend, this means re-shaping for long term resilience. This level of change can only be achieved by a systemic, collaborative approach involving actors from across the supply chain.

This is why initiatives such as Cotton 2040 exist. Cotton 2040 is an ambitious collaborative initiative aiming to drive change in the cotton system so it can thrive and contribute positively to environmental, social and economic challenges in an increasingly disrupted world. It 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 (formerly C&A Foundation), the platform 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.

Over the next three years (2020-2022), Cotton 2040 and its partners will deliver a set of three interconnected workstreams with the biggest potential to drive a systemic shift to mainstream sustainable cotton through collaborative efforts.

  1. Planning for climate adaptation: Creating sector-wide collaborative action to understand and adapt to the changing climate.
  2. Sourcing sustainable cotton: Driving the uptake of sustainable cotton with brands and​ retailers, building on the success of the CottonUP guide launched in 2018. 
  3. Developing sustainable business models: Supporting a widespread shift towards alternative business models which ensure fairer distribution of value and risk between stakeholders, and enable the regeneration of land and resources.

The immediate impact of COVID-19, like the disruptions that climate change will bring, is causing immense human suffering and hardship. It shows up the weaknesses of systems that were already not fit for purpose and will be less and less able to function in the context that is emerging. So much now depends on whether we learn from this lesson. We can create supply chains that help to regenerate the ecosystems and communities in which they are grown, which ensure those who produce them livelihoods they can rely on, and which meet society’s needs without borrowing from the future. There will be hard choices about what to take with us and what to leave behind. But we can make those choices, together, now, or wait until the next crisis to make them for us in ways that cause more suffering. We can change these critical systems so they work for all of us, but only if we act now, and together.

For more information about Cotton 2040, and Forum’s work in creating equitable, resilience value chains, contact Charlene Collison.


Cover photo by Mike Carberry, Cotton Australia
This article was originally posted on Forum For The Future.

Cotton 2040: Creating a resilient cotton industry in turbulent times

Cotton 2040: Creating a resilient cotton industry in turbulent times

Acclimatise are delighted to announce the establishment of a new partnership with Forum for the Future as co-delivery partners on the Cotton 2040 initiative.

To survive in an increasingly climate-disrupted world, the cotton system requires significant, radical change which can only be achieved by a systemic, collaborative approach involving actors across the supply chain.

Cotton represents about 25% of all fibre used in the textile sector globally and supports the livelihoods of around 350 million people. The industry is facing increasing climate change pressures include changing rainfall patterns, availability of water, rising temperatures and competition for land for food and fuel.. Increasing the amount of sustainably grown cotton is key to reducing cotton’s impact and adapting to the negative impacts of the climate crisis; but while progress is being made, uptake and production is limited, preventing sustainable cotton from mainstreaming.

See a recently published blog by Forum for the Future’s Associate Director, Charlene Collison, on why we need to transform commodity value chains in light of the current pandemic and the on-going climate change threat.

About Cotton 2040

Facilitated by Forum for the Future and supported by Laudes Foundation, Acclimatise and Anthesis, Cotton 2040 aims to accelerate progress and maximise the impact of existing sustainability initiatives across the global cotton industry, by bringing together leading international brands and retailers, sustainable cotton standards, existing industry initiatives and other stakeholders across the value chain.

Since 2016, Cotton 2040 has been engaging the industry to understand and align around potential future risks and opportunities for sustainable cotton. The initiative’s progress to date includes building the CottonUP Guide to sourcing sustainable cotton, creating the first platform providing comprehensive information on sourcing cotton across multiple sustainable standards. Forum for the Future have also been carrying out foundational work with sustainable cotton standards, programmes and codes on pathways towards greater alignment in traceability and impact reporting (the latest phase of this work has been carried out in collaboration with Project Delta).

Cotton 2040’s progress has been guided by a steering group that included sustainable cotton standards, programmes and codes (organic, represented by Textile Exchange; The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI); CottonConnect; Cotton Made in Africa (CMiA); Fairtrade; MyBMP (Cotton Australia); and the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA). Brand and retail partners have included M&S, Target, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. and Burberry, among others, alongside industry partners such as IDH, ICAC and more.

Over the next three years (2020-2022), Cotton 2040 and its partners will deliver a set of three interconnected workstreams with the biggest potential to drive a systemic shift to mainstream sustainable cotton through collaborative efforts.

Acclimatise will co-partner the delivery of the first of three workstreams planned for Cotton 2040. This first workstream is related to planning for climate adaptation. The three workstreams include:

  1. Planning for climate adaptation: Creating sector-wide collaborative action to understand and adapt to the changing climate. Working with cotton producers, brands and retailers and industry initiatives, we will develop a common understanding across the cotton system as to how climate change is likely to impact key stakeholders and regions, and agree on a shared set of priorities for action across the cotton sector.
  2. Sourcing sustainable cotton: Driving the uptake of sustainable cotton with brands and retailers, building on the success of the CottonUP guide launched in 2018.
  3. Developing sustainable business models: Supporting a widespread shift towards alternative business models which ensure fairer distribution of value and risk between stakeholders, and enable the regeneration of land and resources.

How to get involved?

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.

Those wishing to find out more can contact Charlene Collison, Associate Director – Sustainable Value Chains & Livelihoods at Forum for the Future on c.collison@forumforthefuture.org


Cover photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash.