The goal is for Better Cotton to account for 30% of global cotton production by 2020

The goal is for Better Cotton to account for 30% of global cotton production by 2020

The Better Cotton Initiative's global investment vehicle has been awarded EUR2m (US$2.14m) from Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to support its projects around the world.

The Better Cotton Initiative's Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) was launched at the beginning of last year to help BCI towards its goal of reaching 5m farmers and accounting for 30% of global cotton production by 2020. 

The fund, which is managed by BCI's strategic partner, The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), invested more than EUR5m in projects last year – and says the BMZ contribution will enable a significant scaling-up of the initiative for the next season.

The grant will be invested globally in training and capacity building to address sustainability issues in cotton farming, including pesticide use, water efficiency and severe working conditions such as child labour, gender issues and unfair pay.

"Making globalisation socially and environmentally fair – that is our common goal, both in our Textiles Partnership and in the Better Cotton Initiative," said Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"BCI is a leader in the effort to achieve better environmental and social standards in cotton production. Together with the private sector, civil society and producer country governments, we are defining standards."

Dr Müller is also the driving force behind the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles initiative, which aims to bring about social, ecological and economic improvements along the apparel and textile supply chain.

With members including around half of Germany's major retailers and garment companies, including Otto Group, C&A, Aldi, Lidl, KiK, Adidas, and Tchibo, the group has drawn up standards covering building safety, better industrial relations, achieving living wages, fibre production (especially for cotton), and reducing harmful chemicals.

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BCI currently has 66 retailers and brand members who contribute to the fund and according to Alan McClay, CEO of the BCI, "global institutional donors and government agencies are invited to match the contributions from the private sector to achieve a multiplier effect. We look forward to working closely with BMZ as a key partner in achieving our goals."

Private partners in the fund include some of the world's largest cotton buyers, including Adidas, H&M, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and M&S. They have agreed to pay a volume-based fee related to their use of Better Cotton.