Achieving sustainability through global partnerships
In 2015, 193 countries agreed on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and thus expressed the agreement that clear, wide-ranging objectives are needed to secure a future for the world that is prosperous in every sense and at every level. Goal 12 specifically focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, i.e. “doing more and better with less”. It asks for a systemic approach and cooperation among all actors of global supply chains to increase net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole life cycle, while increasing quality of life.
In the cotton and textile industry, rising global awareness for sustainability has transformed the market. Demand for certified cotton is rising in line with the growing demand for sustainably produced clothing and home textiles from retailers and branded goods manufacturers. Retailers and brands increasingly have to adjust their processes to meet specific social and environmental standards and respond to consumers’ expectations.
Today, almost 30% of Africa’s cotton production already meets recognised sustainability standards according to Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Fairtrade, and Organic. Through programmes like the Competitive African Cotton Initiative and the BCI Growth and Innovation Fund, the supply of sustainably produced cotton has steadily improved over the last years. Demand-oriented initiatives like the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (USA) or Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (UK) have helped to foster the uptake of certified African cotton.
To increase the share of certified sustainable cotton from Africa in the global chain of custody mix, further joint efforts will be needed in the future. The Cotton Expert House Africa is a competent implementation partner for foundations and NGOs wanting to support sustainability measures in the African cotton sector and offer private sector companies advise on grant opportunities.