CmiA and the Sustainable Development Goals


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set up by the United Nations in 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all – on an economic, social and environmental level. They address the global challenges we face and define goals to fight poverty, inequality, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation by 2030, and to bring peace, justice and more prosperity to all. The work of Cotton made in Africa also has a direct influence on the Sustainable Development Goals. To get to more about about the impact Cotton made in Africa, in close cooperation with partners, has on achieving the goals, please scroll down.

SDG 1 No Poverty: Reducing poverty is a central concern of CmiA. Through trainings, smallholder cotton farmers can improve their farming practices. This aims at enabling them to generate higher yields and thus higher income. Following its core principle ‘aid by trade’, Cotton made in Africa establishes sustainable trade relations with smallholder farmers in Africa on the one hand and with brands and textile companies worldwide on the other. As a social business, all partners benefit – especially the currently more than one million smallholders and their families who profit from trainings in efficient and sustainable cotton business techniques as well as from further projects.

SDG 2 Zero Hunger: An alliance of textile companies and brands built up by CmiA specifically demands for CmiA cotton and pays a nominal license fee back to CmiA. With income from licensing fees, CmiA trains smallholder farmers in the sustainable and efficient management of their fields. According to the World Economic Forum, economic growth in the agricultural sector has an eleven times more positive impact on poverty reduction than growth in other areas. Investing in sustainable farming methods consequentlly offers great potential for creating rural prospects, especially for young people, and fighting hunger. The rotation between food crops with cash crops such as cotton is another element to fight hunger. To foster improvement in this area, CmiA will be one of five pilots to test the Food Security Standard developed by Welthungerhilfe, WWF and ZEF.

SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing: The CmiA standard aims to protect the health and wellbeing of smallholder farmers as well as factory workers in the cotton ginneries, the first step of processing cotton. This includes the prohibition of particularly dangerous pesticides for farmers and regular working hours for factory workers.

Additionally, CmiA initiates projects that give access to clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation. These so-called WASH projects help to prevent diseases and are essential when it comes to increasing health and well-being in the rural areas of cotton farming in Africa with limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Girls in particular usually have to walk long distances to get to the next borehole. These projects are part of the CmiA Community Cooperation Program.

SDG 4 Quality Education: Training for small-scale farmers in simple business management skills as well as modern and efficient agricultural knowledge help farmers help themselves and their families. In order to especially protect children in the cotton-growing areas and to defend their rights, CmiA initiates projects that improve the school infrastructure in rural areas and draws attention to the importance of education through special awareness-raising activities.

SDG 5 Gender Equality: Especially women are true multitalents when it comes to cultivating the cotton fields whilst taking care of their whole family’s well-being. Against this background, CmiA is committed to supporting women in their role in society and sensitize for their rights. In addition to the principles set out in the standard criteria, CmiA initiates various activities to implement gender equality: The training in the sustainable cultivation of cotton are adjusted to the needs of female participants and CmiA helps women to become so-called Lead Farmers for their training groups, which further strengthens their position as role model for others. Special projects under the CmiA Community Cooperation Program further support women and generate additional sources of income. The cotton companies’ employees receive trainings on gender equality and establish female representatives as permanent contact persons within the company.

SDG 6 Clean Water: Water is a precious good. In many parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is an absolute exception. Droughts, especially in Southern Africa, highlight the importance of water for people and nature. Cotton is artificially irrigated in many parts of the world. Not however with Cotton made in Africa. CmiA cotton is rain-fed only and ‘saves’ over 500 liters of water per shirt compared to the global average. The CmiA standard also requires the protection of water sources from contamination by pesticides and fertilizers. Under the CmiA Community Cooperation Program, Cotton made in Africa supports various projects that improve access to clean drinking water in cotton-growing regions and rebuild sanitary facilities, for example in schools. This has a positive effect on the general health situation, because diarrheal diseases are significantly reduced. Women and girls who provide water to their families benefit in particular, as they are traditionally responsible for supplying their homes with water.

SDG 8 Decent Work: According to the CmiA standard, the ILO core labor standards must be met to ensure decent work for smallholder farmers as well as for workers in the cotton ginning factories.

SDG 12 Responsible Consumption: More and more people are wondering where their clothes come from, who produced them and under which conditions. Consumers’ interest in getting to know the people and the stories behind our products is rising. Through its product label and communication, CmiA gives consumers the possibility to get to more about the work and people and the origin of our clothes.

SDG 13 Climate Action: The impact of climate change in the face of extreme weather and environmental disasters is becoming increasingly clear and perceptible. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly in recent years. Cotton made in Africa works against climat change. CmiA cotton causes up to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions for one kilogram of cotton than conventional cotton. This equals the amount of cotton needed for 4 shirts. Active climate protection measures taken were i.a. tree planting actions (for organic pesticides – one measure, multiple effects). Training that teaches adapted agricultural techniques to smallholder farmers gives them the knowledge they need to adapt their cultivation methods and make their crops more resilient.

SDG 15 Life on Land: CmiA is actively involved in the protection of soil and biodiversity through various agri-technical measures. By default, it prohibits the intervention in primary forests and protected areas.

SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals: Cooperation is an important key to sustainable textile production. This is why Cotton made in Africa is part of a large network of non-governmental and governmental organizations, textile companies and small fashion brands. Supporting partners include the WWF, Welthungerhilfe, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), OTTO, Tchibo, the Rewe Group, and many more. By establishing a demand alliance for CmiA cotton, CmiA creates partnerships for a sustainable future in the textile industry.

Read more about the criteria and requirements of the CmiA standard for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals here.

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