Since 2009, IDH has built partnerships with leading global textile brands and retailers. This has enabled us to address some of the key issues in the cotton value chain. IDH is now broadening and deepening engagements within the textile sector, focusing on three material categories: cotton, polyester, and man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCFs), which have been prioritized based on an in-depth understanding of their socio-economic and environmental impacts from global consumption and production figures.
By focussing on interventions in cotton, polyester and MMCFs, IDH will be able to cover the vast majority of global fibre production and accelerate a transition to preferred fibre and materials. By 2025, we aim to tackle the key environmental and social challenges embedded in their production and through that provide better incomes for smallholder farmers, and a better environment through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
IDH will achieve these impacts by convening the private sector, and by utilising innovative delivery mechanisms such as impact investing and through our strategic partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative.
Promoting sustainable cotton production
IDH invests in and supports the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an independent standard based on agronomic, environmental, and social criteria to create long-term change.
IDH is a strategic partner to the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund (Better Cotton GIF or the Fund), a global program designed to support the BCI in scaling.
The focus of the Fund is field-level – investing in more sustainable farming practices, better training and capacity building, more efficient data collection and research to benefit farmers and the environment in key cotton-growing countries.
As a strategic partner to the Fund and plays multiple roles including fund manager, funder, and partner to deliver innovations for farmer capacity building on more sustainable production practices.
Climate-Smart Cotton Landscapes
IDH’s Climate-Smart Cotton Landscapes implements an innovative jurisdictional model to address smallholder vulnerability to climate change through public-private action. Through the programs, IDH aims at de-risking farmer’s exposure to climate change through a multi-pillar strategy, anchored around water management, agricultural practices & tools, alternative livelihood, gender empowerment, and community building.
In India, the CCL are being implemented in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, IDH is working with 6,300 farmers through an integrated, participatory and gender-inclusive approach of agrometeorological advisory services, training on good agricultural practices, and community-based watershed management. The program also implements an Agri-Entrepreneur model, under which a rural youth is trained to handhold 150-250 farmers in a cluster of 4-5 villages and act as a one-stop resource provider for the agricultural needs of small and marginal farmers including providing access to finance, agricultural inputs and supporting with market linkages.
IDH is extending its focus on alternatives for cotton including polyester and man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCFs) to identify innovative solutions addressing key sustainability challenges.
IDH will deliver a package of material interventions across the cradle-to-gate life cycle from farm to production, by leveraging existing network in key cotton-growing countries as well as major garment manufacturing hubs including China, Vietnam, Pakistan, and India, to solve potential cross-value chain barriers and by continuing to work closely with 90+ brands and retailer partners in the EU and USA to drive systemic changes.
In 2020, the cotton production sector was not immune to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, 2020 underwent a reduced demand for more sustainably produced cotton as a direct result of the COVID pandemic. The apparel sector was severely impacted due to store and factory closures, cancellation of orders placed with suppliers, and worker redundancies. The reduced need for new products sparked a domino effect on the need for raw materials such as Better Cotton. The threat of a significantly lower financial contribution by private-sector partners had the potential to compromise the level of investment in smallholder capacity building activities.
Due to global demand recovery towards the end of 2020 and the on-boarding of new BCI Retailer and Brand Members, the private-sector contribution to the Fund increased to €12.7 million.
IDH supported the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) by convening leading BCI Retailer and Brand Members to illustrate the potential negative impact of reduced financial contributions at the field level and on smallholder farmers.
IDH demonstrated the value of maintaining investment in capacity building with a view to improving smallholder profitability, thereby supporting vulnerable populations already facing challenging circumstances. As a result, in 2020, the Better Cotton GIF reached 1.8 million farmers across 3.3 million ha, producing 2.6 MT cotton lint. The total investment was €12.7 million, including a financial contribution of €1 million by IDH directly into the Fund.
Private-sector (sustainability) investments in the program (in million euro)Target 2020 10Result 2020 14Cumulative target 2020 55Cumulative result 2016-2020 61
Volume of sustainably produced cotton (in million metric tons)Target 2020 7Result 2020 6Cumulative target 2020 23Cumulative result 2016-2018 24
Smallholders, workers and community members trained (in millions)Target 2020 4Results 2020 3
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