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New report calls for sustainable cotton farming
Feb '16
Seven leading global businesses have called on all actors in the cotton industry to accelerate action on natural capital to ensure a sustainable future for the sector. They joined forces with social and environmental initiatives and cotton experts to produce a report last week that demonstrates the positive natural capital impacts of specific cotton production practices.

The report 'Threading natural capital into cotton: Doing business with nature,' published by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), outlines the actions needed to ensure positive impacts on natural capital. It presents 15 different management interventions in the cotton supply chain, focusing particularly on water, biodiversity and soil.

An online cotton tool was also unveiled to help businesses identify the types of interventions that are most relevant to their cotton production contexts, the University said on its website.

Cotton is one of the world's most important crops. Last year, it was grown across 2.5 per cent of global agricultural land. Cotton is worn throughout the world, across socio-economic boundaries. However, the natural resources its production depends upon are at risk and must be safeguarded to ensure the long-term security of cotton supply chains, the report said.

The report concludes that natural capital must be recognised and understood by businesses and incorporated into their decision-making processes. By providing strong evidence of natural capital impacts, the report aims to inform a constructive dialogue and collaborative work between all actors, from farmers to retailers, and encourage progress towards sustainable and resilient cotton supply chains.

The report highlights opportunities to safeguard the natural resources the cotton industry depends upon while at the same time reducing business vulnerabilities and risk.

'Threading natural capital into cotton: Doing business with nature' is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between CISL's Natural Capital Leaders Platform and leading companies including Asda, Bayer, Cargill, C&A, Kering, Olam International and Value Retail, working together with experts and cotton initiatives as part of a Cotton Action Research Collaboratory (ARC).

Gemma Cranston, Senior Programme Manager at the Natural Capital Leaders Platform, hosted by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, said: “The challenge facing businesses around cotton is that there is not enough evidence around best management practices for natural capital. This is why we convened a group of leading businesses, experts and representatives from sustainable cotton initiatives to begin assessing the evidence for cotton-based management interventions on natural capital. By making it accessible to key decision-makers and influencers within cotton supply chains, more informed decisions can be made to support cotton's sustainable future.”

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