The organic cotton sector stands at a crossroads. The crop can become a cornerstone of apparel brands’ sustainability and sustainable cotton portfolios, meeting a growing market demand for sustainable clothing while offering substantial benefits to farmers and the environment alike. Achieving this would mark a key achievement on the path towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
However, a number of enduring challenges cripple the sector, undercutting the business case for farmers, creating sourcing- and reputational risks for brands, and leading to a scattering of stakeholders’ initiatives across the sector landscape. If no action is taken soon, this situation will progressively erode the public image of organic cotton, and with it the willingness of stakeholders to invest in the sector, sending organic cotton into a terminal decline.
The good news is that the industry players retain a strong trust in the promise of organic cotton, and that it is possible to meet these challenges to ensure the continued vitality and sustainability of the organic cotton sector. To turn this game around requires the development and realization of a unified sector vision and agenda, to fix the business case throughout the value chain, from farmer to brand, and unlock the potential for a robust and growing organic cotton sector.