Better Cotton has introduced a comprehensive plan called the Roadmap of Sustainability Developments in collaboration with Uzbekistan stakeholders in a bid to drive further improvements within the country’s cotton sector, which is the sixth largest in the world.

The sustainability roadmap will offer recommendations for adopting sustainable practices throughout cotton-growing communities in Uzbekistan, benefiting the environment, communities, and the economy.

The collaborative agreement was signed during Tashkent Textile Week by prominent figures including Tanzila Narbayeva, chairperson of Uzbekistan’s senate and chairperson of the National Commission to Combating Human Trafficking and Forced Labour, as well as Ilkhom Khaydarov, chairperson of Uzbekistan’s Textile and Garment Industry Association.

Under the roadmap, national stakeholders, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Employment, and Textile and Garments Association, have pledged their support for its implementation.

With the support of Uzbekistan’s key stakeholders Better Cotton believes it is well-positioned to address current and future concerns while continuously supporting cotton farmers across the country.

Better Cotton senior programme manager Rachel Beckett said: “Better Cotton sees its work in Uzbekistan as an opportunity to create value and drive improvements for the environment, producers, and workers in the country’s cotton sector, and to bring us closer to our vision of a world where all cotton is more sustainable.”

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Better Cotton states that as Uzbekistan is the sixth-largest cotton producer globally, its involvement is crucial in advancing the cotton initiatives objective of promoting sustainable cotton production on a larger scale.

The roadmap outlines a comprehensive action plan encompassing four main objectives:

  • Establishing effective management systems for the Better Cotton Programme in Uzbekistan, raising awareness among cotton stakeholders about sustainability pillars
  • Promoting labour rights in the cotton sector through appropriate labour systems and safe working conditions, effective management of employer-worker relations as well as productive social dialogue
  • Disseminating best practices for environmental sustainability in cotton production
  • Formulating a three-year strategy for managing, funding, and scaling the Better Cotton programme.

Narbayeva expressed her optimism about the partnership and stated: “We believe that our partnership with Better Cotton will support the creation of effective management systems in cotton fields, encourage the broader application of modern, energy-saving technologies and reduce the impact of production on the environment. This roadmap serves to strengthen social protection, improve labour relations based on international standards, and create decent and safe working conditions for workers.”

This roadmap builds upon the foundation of the Better Cotton Programme in Uzbekistan, which was launched in 2022.

Taking place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 21-22 June, Better Cotton says its annual conference will discuss all four issues identified for their impact on the sustainability of the cotton sector.

In March last year global textile and apparel trade bodies and campaign groups, hailed Uzbekistan’s reform of its cotton harvest system to eliminate forced labour as a “historic achievement” with fashion sourcing executives being encouraged to explore sourcing cotton from the region.