Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

What is BCI?

BCI, an international non-profit organization, is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. BCI is a multi-stakeholder, international initiative that aims to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of cotton production and to make the future of the industry safer by coming together and acting jointly with many different stakeholders, from producers to retailers. To achieve this goal, BCI's approach is to continuously improve agricultural practices by equipping the farmer with the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools. Thus, it is ensured that the farmer reaches production in accordance with internationally recognized standards on issues such as the use of pesticides, effective use of water resources, improving soil health, and increasing the welfare of agricultural workers.



Better Cotton is cotton grown according to BCI standards in line with BCI's production principles. Farmers with a BCI license can sell the cotton they produce as Better Cotton. In terms of quality, there is no difference between Better Cotton grown in the same region and conventional cotton. The reason why we call "Better Cotton" "Better" is not because of the quality of the cotton produced, but because of the cultivation methods of the cotton.



How It All Started?

In 2005, A multi-stakeholder ‘round table’ of commodity experts led by WWF meets to discuss the future of sustainability in each sector; solutions for each sector. One of the ideas is the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Organizations include Adidas, Gap, H&M, Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), International Finance Corporation, IKEA, Organic Exchange, Oxfam, Pesticides Action Network (PAN) the UK, and WWF pledged their support. Between 2006-2009, a team examined the potential for supply and demand of Better Cotton – cotton that is better for its growers and their environments. Global and civil society organizations and brands registered their interest. In 2009, BCI is officially launched. The first Better Cotton global standard is published.


Better Cotton Production Principles

Better Cotton is grown by producers who adhere to the following principles:

  • Minimizing the negative effects of product protection practices,

  • Using water effectively and giving importance to the accessibility of water,

  • Paying attention to soil health,

  • Protecting natural life,

  • Giving importance to fiber quality,

  • Promoting decent work practices,

  • Implementing an effective management system.



The Better Cotton Standard System

The Better Cotton Standard System is a holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. Each of the elements – from the Principles and Criteria to the monitoring mechanisms which show results and impact – work together to support the Better Cotton Standard System, and the credibility of Better Cotton and BCI. The system is designed to ensure the exchange of good practices and to encourage the scaling up of collective action to establish Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.






A Holistic Global Standard

Today Better Cotton is grown in 23 countries around the world and accounts for 23% of global cotton production. In the 2019-20 cotton season, 2.4 million licensed Better Cotton Farmers grew 6.2 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton. However, these farmers are only part of the story. Over the last decade, nearly 4 million people around the world – farmers, farmworkers, sharecroppers – have received training in more sustainable practices, reflecting the diversity of the cotton-growing, or ‘Farmer+’ community that we aim to reach.


Where Better Cotton grows is not only a matter of geography. In Australia, Brazil, or the United States, a farm can be an industrial operation. In parts of Africa, India, or Pakistan it can be a tiny smallholder working on less than 20 hectares of land. What matters is that as a holistic global standard, wherever Better Cotton is grown, it satisfies the environmental, economic, and social criteria that we have set, so that it can be called Better Cotton.


2019-2020 Better Cotton Production


BCI Licensed Farmers Worldwide



 

References

  • İyi Pamuk Uygulamaları Derneği. "Better Cotton". 06.12.2021. https://iyipamuk.org.tr/Home/Detail/7476/better-cotton

  • Better Cotton. "Better Cotton". 06.12.2021. https://bettercotton.org/tr/

  • SARAL Kerem, BCI Bilgilendirme Forumu, 19-23.10.2015

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