Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
is a voluntary, member-based, nonprofit organization headquartered in Geneva that has revised global standards of cotton production with the intention of reducing negative environmental impacts associated with cotton production and safeguard the livelihoods of cotton farmers. Consisting of global stakeholders, organizations, and individuals across the cotton supply chain, BCI intends to improve and transform cotton production on a global scale by focusing on social and environmental initiatives with the goal of establishing Better Cotton as a mainstream product. To do so, BCI developed the Better Cotton Standard System, which covers the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social pillars. There are six components to the implementation of the Better Cotton Standard System:
Production Principles Criteria: BCI created the universal definition of Better Cotton through specific criteria to include farmers who minimize the harmful impact created by crop-protection practices, incorporate water efficiency, care for soil health, conserve the natural environment, preserve the quality of fiber, and encourage decent work.
Capacity Building: BCI works with trained and endorsed Implementation Partners who directly assist farmers in creating change at the farm level. Implementation Partners are monitored regularly and provide BCI with a high level of efficacy.
Assurance Programme: To ensure advancement in the farming industry, BCI farmers are expected to continue learning and growing. Initially BCI farmers must reach the BCI minimum requirements to receive the BCI license to grow Better Cotton. After a farmer reaches a specified amount of Better Cotton growth, the farmer must continue to meet improvement requirements to remain a Better Cotton producer.
Chain of Custody: This stage develops BCI’s authenticity by requiring documentation for a change in cotton capital ownership. BCI’s Better Cotton traceability tools are available online for members to easily access.
Claims Framework: Aside from guidance on Better Cotton production, members also benefit from BCI by association with the initiative. BCI allows members to make credible claims regarding their production of Better Cotton and the activities involved. Claims can be applied at the corporate, brand, or in-store levels.
Results and Impact: BCI created the Results Indicator, a quantitative tool used to measure differences between Better Cotton farms and conventional farms. This information is used for the Assurance Programme. BCI also uses case studies to reference against the Results Indicator.
Currently, BCI is partnering with academic institutions to research and better comprehend the environmental and social impacts of Better Cotton implementation. The BCI Web site is http://bettercotton.org.
BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. Through its Consumer Products Industry Focus, BSR has conducted an analysis of Bangladesh’s ready-to-made garment sector. Through its Sustainable Luxury Working Group, BSR provides a forum for dialogue among luxury sector actors and stakeholders to pre-emptively identify, understand, and prioritize emerging sustainability issues in luxury-industry value chains. It acts as an incubator for co-creating broad-based sustainable solutions via collaboration including with relevant stakeholders and complementary initiatives. It coordinates common approaches for implementing solutions to avoid duplication, maximize economies of scale, and ensure applicability and usefulness for business. The BSR Web site is http://www.bsr.org.
Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) is the industry body for sustainable fashion representing more than 6000 members in more than 100 countries. EFF is a not-for-profit organization focused on poverty reduction, education, and the environment in relation to the fashion industry. It is run by a representative board.
The Ethical Fashion Forum aims to develop a collaborative movement that will transform social and environmental standards in the fashion industry within a decade. In line with its vision, the EFF goals are as follows:
The eradication of exploitation, hardship, and environmental damage from supply chains to the fashion industry and the practices of fashion businesses.
The creation of a movement led by the fashion industry, for the fashion industry, which upholds and practices more than doing no harm; it is actively striving to add value for people and the environment across the entire industry sector.
Industry training and resources made available that ensure that every single UK fashion business is aware of how they can become more sustainable, why it is important, and where to find the tools to do so.
The raising of consumer awareness in relation to sustainable fashion.
The creation of a clear and consistent system for communication of ethical standards by fashion businesses.
A system of standards and regulations ruling out exploitative practices in the fashion industry.
Broad and fundamental change toward better practices in the fashion industry within the next 10 years.
The creation of a model and precedent for industry change that can be drawn from and built upon by other industries.
To facilitate sustainability in the fashion sector, the EFF has developed the SOURCE: The Global Platform for Sustainable Fashion. Including a sourcing and business database, online network, business intelligence platform, and global programme of events, the SOURCE offers a sustainability tool kit for the fashion sector. The EFF Web site is http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/.
Natural Capital Coalition (NCC) has a mission of amalgamating the various approaches of natural capital preservation into one universal vision. The coalition is comprised of stakeholders in the government, financial and reporting industries. NCC’s focus is on research development and stakeholder engagement in order to establish standardized methods of accountability and valuation in business practices. Overall, NCC understands the value of preserving natural capital recognizing that natural capital is the foundation of all economic productivity and is thus necessary for sustaining operable businesses.
In an effort to develop a standardized approach of natural capital preservation, NCC developed the Natural Capital Protocol and Sector Guides, including the Apparel Sector Guide, which work to generate acceptable principles of natural capital accounting. The combined protocol and sector guide provide a compelling case for implementing natural capital valuation into an organization’s strategic planning process. The Protocol and Sector Guides are available globally and across various business levels including the organization/corporate level, the project/site level, and the product/process level.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development created NCC’s protocol along with a selected Technical Group consisting of various international businesses, NGOs, and academic institutions. The protocol provides companies with natural capital accounting counsel including a step-by-step guide to qualitative, quantitative and monetary valuation. The protocol measures the direct and indirect impacts that an organization may have on natural capital, the organization’s dependency level of natural capital, and methodology suggestions to help alleviate negative outcomes from natural capital overuse.
The Sector Guides develop the case for specific industries, such as the Apparel Sector, with compelling information that displays the relevance of natural capital to that industry as well as the benefits of developing strategic business approaches of measuring, evaluating, and valuing natural capital to further an operable industry. The guide also provides counsel for adapting NCC’s protocol to a specified industry. The Apparel Sector Guide is one of the first NCC sector guides to be produced due to the intricate and immense impacts from the fashion industry. The Apparel Sector Guide was developed by TruCost, with a team of experts to review the guides.
NCC’s efforts for sustainability—including the production of a high-level guide for senior management teams to review and adopt, which will provide leaders with a clear understanding of the relevance of including natural capital preservation in their business strategy—are still in progress. NCC’s Web site is http://www.naturalcapitalcoalition.org/projects/the-natural-capital-protocol.html.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a San Francisco-based coalition founded by sustainability leaders with the goal of directing the apparel, footwear, and home textile industries toward those that do not negatively impact the environment or the people and communities associated with such production. SAC addresses specifically targeted environmental issues including water use and quality, energy and emissions, chemical and toxicity, waste, and social and labor sectors. The coalition’s membership is comprised of nearly one third of the global market share for clothing production and is a self-initiated organization. SAC’s intention is to create an industry-wide shared vision of sustainability by developing a common language in the industry that can serve to alleviate negative environmental and social impacts through a common evaluative approach of product sustainability performance.
SAC developed a qualitative analysis index called the Higg Index, which is a publicly available self-assessment tool used by textile producers to measure the environmental and social performance of apparel products and to identify ways to improve products and production processes. SAC’s theory is that with effective self-assessment and modifications to the production process, an organization can strengthen their company value with innovative, sustainable practices. Since the emergence of the Higg Index 1.0 in 2012, SAC has enhanced the Higg Index’s measuring effectiveness and introduced the Higg Index 2.0 in 2013, which expanded the scope from measuring solely environmental concerns to a scope that includes social concerns and footwear production as well. Overall, the Higg Index is designed with three assessment tools, called “modules,” which evaluate the impacts of three textile-supply sectors: facility, brand, and product.
Facility Tools: These ready-to-use tools are appropriate for facilities, vendors, or manufacturers in both environmental and social modules to assess the performance of material, packaging, and manufacturing facilities.
Brand Tools: The brand tools assess product-specific environmental and social practices at the brand level.
Product Tools: The product tools assess product-specific impacts. The two product tools include the Rapid Design Module (RDM) and the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) Data Explorer. RDM is used as a prototype to help guide an organization toward sustainable product design with accurate information and the use of the decision-support framework. MSI is an online platform that expands on the RDM methodology allowing users to understand the data collected from RDM and the scoring of the quality of materials.
The modules allow for increased efficiency and transparency in sustainable practices throughout the supply chain due to rapid understanding of an organization’s practices and environmental hot spots for improvement. SAC also provides companies with a platform for engagement with the coalition’s stakeholders to create decisive and innovative measures toward alleviating current environmental and social instability. To date, the Higg Index 2.0 does not include an assessment of retail activity; however, such consideration may be included in future versions of the Higg Index. The SAC Web site is http://apparelcoalition.org.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization uniting progressive companies with a mission to develop sustainable solutions for various global challenges. Headquartered in Geneva, the Council consists of CEOs and board executives of more than 200 participating companies. The overall goal of WBCSD is to lead businesses to valuable sustainable solutions and recognize businesses for implementing such efforts. Council members work across a range of industry sectors, geographies, and value chains, thereby activating diverse discussions and perspectives on sustainability issues and experiences.
WBCSD is one of the most respected and leading voices for sustainability due to its multilateral collaboration with considerable involvement from the UN, World Bank, and UNFCCC. The involvement of such organizations allows the conversations generated from WBCSD to reach influential global platforms such as the UN Climate Summit and COP negotiations. WBCSD Global Network includes more than 65 participating companies and partner organizations with two thirds of the participants representing developing economies.
The two programs developed by WBCSD, Vision 2050 and Action2020, work together to promote the long-term sustainable goals of the organization. The Vision 2050 report is a sustainable report compiled by 29 leading global companies across 14 varying industries and includes dialogue from more than 200 companies and stakeholders representing approximately 20 countries. From the Vision 2050 report, WBCSD generated the long-term sustainable goal of developing a pathway for a livable world for 9 million people and within our planet’s resources by 2050.
To strategically meet the Vision 2050 goal, WBCSD and Action2020 member companies developed Nine Priority Areas with specific goals, known as the societal “must-haves” that can be attained by adopting specific business solutions. The Nine Priority Areas are Climate Change; Release of Nutrient Elements; Ecosystems; Exposure to Harmful Substances; Water; Basic Needs and Rights; Skills and Employment; Sustainable Lifestyles; and Food, Feed, Fibre, and Biofuels. The WBCSD Web site is http://www.wbcsd.org.
World Economic Forum is an independent and impartial not-for-profit organization operating as an officially recognized foundation for public and private sectors to cooperate on global sustainable solutions. Headquartered in Geneva, the World Economic Forum provides an integrated platform for international politicians, businesses, academia, and other society leaders to engage in discussion regarding challenges and solutions to the world’s most critical issues.
The forum fosters collaboration through integrated meetings, research networks, and digital discourse focusing on the 10 categorized projects—Agriculture and Food Security; Employment, Skills and Human Capital; Future of the Global Financial System; Global Gender Parity; Long-Term Investing, Infrastructure and Economic Development; Economic Growth with Social Inclusion; Environment and Resource Security; Future of the Internet; International Trade and Investment—as well as other forum projects.
World Economic Forum also developed the World Economic Forum Academy. The online platform and collaborative peer-to-peer community of innovators, experts, and practitioners provides a holistic view on the topics of sustainable intelligence and strategic foresight. The subscription-based academy also acts as a navigational guide for applying and taking action on sustainability. The World Economic Forum Web site is at http://www.weforum.org.