NGOs Launch Forum for Dialog on Sustainable Cotton

23.01.2014

WWF and Welthungerhilfe: “Cotton made in Africa offers textile companies practical alternatives for using sustainable raw materials”

At the kick-off of the Berlin Fashion Week, WWF Germany, and Welthungerhilfe invited leading textile companies to Berlin. The goal was to provide information about the use of sustainable cotton fundamental for a responsible clothing industry and to discuss possibilities to increase transparency in the textile supply chain. More than 30 guests attended the event to have the opportunity to learn about the views of both major non-governmental organizations on socially and environmentally sustainable cotton production and about potential alternative courses of action for companies.

Bärbel Dieckmann, President of Welthungerhilfe, stressed the key role that sustainable raw materials can play in improving the living conditions of smallholder farmers in southern countries in her opening speech. She thus pointed out the responsibility companies take on with their demand for these raw materials. WWF, Welthungerhilfe and Bremen Cotton Exchange held informative talks on a wide range of issues from land use, genetically modified seeds to world market prices for African cotton. In addition, the Cotton made in Africa initiative introduced itself as an alternative for textile companies. Of particular interest was the question of how companies can integrate the African cotton into their supply chain. This was followed by a lively discussion among the participants on transparency in the value chain and the shared responsibility of trade in enforcing sustainability standards.

This first joint event organized by WWF and Welthungerhilfe on sustainable cotton was very well received. All participants agreed that further exchange on this topic was needed. “In the medium term we are planning on establishing a forum for dialog on sustainable cotton. Our goal is to discuss with a number of stakeholders these key issues in sustainability of raw materials for the textile sector and to develop alternatives together,” says Martina Fleckenstein, Director Agriculture & Sustainable Biomass at WWF Germany. The next event has already been scheduled for early summer 2014.