Better Cotton, the world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative, is hosting a multistakeholder event today in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. The event aims to explore potential new programs and partnerships for sustainable cotton production in West and Central Africa amidst a rapidly changing climate. The event will take place at the Pullman Hotel, Plateau, and will enable key stakeholders across the region to share their experiences and perspectives on the future of sustainable cotton production on the continent.
Representatives from leading cotton companies and organizations, including Solidaridad, The Sustainable Trade Initiative [IDH], ECOM, OlamAgri, and APROCOT-CI, among several others, will participate in discussions to explore opportunities and challenges regarding sustainability in the cotton sector, as well as engage with stakeholders from the cocoa sector for cross-commodity learnings.
Better Cotton is committed to building upon its presence across Africa to enable smallholder farmers to mitigate climate change and adopt a continuous improvement approach to sustainable agricultural practice. Better Cotton is proactively engaging with sector stakeholders across West and Central Africa, in countries such as Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Cameroon, to develop multistakeholder collaboration to start impactful Better Cotton programs. With a membership spanning farm to the retailer and brand level, Better Cotton is strategically positioned to meet supply with increasing demand. At the farm level, program partners provide training and resources to smallholder farmers to enable social and environmental improvements that culminate in more climate-resilient operations, which in turn assist the livelihoods of the farmers.
In November, several West African cotton-producing countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad, often referred to as the Cotton-4, called for support to strengthen the resilience of their cotton industries at the World Trade Organization’s Cotton Days event. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at that time estimated that cotton production would increase in the four nations over the coming years, provided appropriate action is taken to promote sustainability standards, empower women and youth, and reduce trade-distorting subsidies.
Damien Sanfilippo, Senior Director of Programs at Better Cotton, said that the event signifies an important opportunity for cotton stakeholders in Africa to engage with one another and explore partnerships needed to ensure market access and improved sustainability for cotton growers.