Better Cotton Signs UN Pledge for Traceability and Transparency

Better Cotton, the world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative, has signed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Sustainability Pledge ahead of the launch of its Traceability Solution at the end of 2023.

The Sustainability Pledge is an open-source suite of policy recommendations, guidelines and standards that enable industry actors to authenticate their sustainability claims. The aim of the Pledge is to create a Community of Practice that would together develop traceability and transparency as key enablers for sustainability and circularity.

The UNECE launched the framework to convene credible solution providers in knowledge exchange, with the belief that companies, academics and topic experts can collectively advance supply chain transparency by engaging in open discourse.

By recognising legitimate tools and projects that aim to advance industry traceability, the pledge stands to benefit policymakers, companies, workers and consumers alike.

Alia Malik, Senior Director of Data and Traceability at Better Cotton, said: “We are signing UNECE’s Sustainability Pledge not only to affirm our commitment to improving traceability and transparency in Better Cotton supply chains, but also in support of traceability and the use of more credible sustainability claims across the industry.”

Elisabeth Türk, Director, Economic Cooperation and Trade at UNECE, commented: “Once we know the provenance of the clothes that we buy, and the path they have travelled in global value chains, then we can make informed decisions as consumers about the sustainability claims of those goods. We welcome Better Cotton’s pledge and call on other players to join and make traceability and sustainability the new normal in the textile industry.” 

As a signatory, Better Cotton joins more than 90 businesses to have committed to the pledge, including Inditex, Vivienne Westwood, WWF, Retraced and FibreTrace.

Better Cotton’s submission accounts for the development of its Traceability Solution, which has been developed as part of its 2030 Strategy. With over 2,500 Members across the world, Better Cotton is well placed to develop a solution that could be scaled globally.

It will offer Retailer and Brand Members the opportunity to verify the country of origin of the Physical Better Cotton in their products and enable farmers and suppliers to continue accessing increasingly regulated international value chains. All this will support Better Cotton’s work to improve lives and safeguard livelihoods in cotton farming communities.

The development of Better Cotton’s Traceability Solution has been based on extensive consultation with over 1,500 stakeholders including Suppliers, Members, and industry consultants.

In signing the Sustainability Pledge, Better Cotton has outlined key actions and a timeframe within which the solution will be launched. A phased roll-out will follow, enabling all supply chain actors the opportunity to align with the new chain of custody requirements that will enable traceability before 2025.

The fashion and textile sectors face increasing regulatory pressure, particularly around ‘greenwashing’ – the use of unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumers about a company or product’s sustainability credentials.

Better Cotton’s soon-to-be-launched Traceability Solution will serve to verify the provenance and chronicle the lifecycle of cotton, starting at a country-level with the aim to improve the granularity of data in the future.

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