Interview with Paola Geremicca

 Paola Geremicca
Paola Geremicca
Director of Communication & Fundraising

Income from BCI’s tracer service set to grow
BCI verification is a trust mark for cotton growers across the world. Paola Geremicca, director of communication and fundraising at BCI discusses the verification process in detail along with company highlights with Fibre2Fashion.com

What precautions need to be taken to be BCI verified?

The Better Cotton Standard System comprises three pillars. Firstly, farmers or groups of farmers (depending on their categorisation in the BCI programme) conduct a self-assessment against the requirements of the Standard. We then conduct a ‘credibility check’ of this information (known by specialists as ‘second party checks’) either through our local country offices, or designated ‘implementing partners’. Finally, we organise third party verification visits by BCI-approved verification organisations. One hundred per cent of large farms are verified. In the smallholder and medium farm context, a sample of farmer groups in each country are third party verified. Farmer groups are chosen for verification based on a combined methodology of risk-based sampling and random selection. This approach to assurance allows for corroboration across up to three forms of assessment performed by a breadth of stakeholders. The Better Cotton Standard System is a holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. Each of the elements–from production principles and criteria to monitoring mechanisms which show results and impact–work together to support the Better Cotton Standard System and the credibility of Better Cotton and BCI. The system is designed to ensure the exchange of good practices, and to encourage the scaling up of collective action to establish Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. In order to become licensed to produce Better Cotton, a farmer must meet a series of minimum criteria and commit to continuous improvement. The production principles and criteria provide a global definition of Better Cotton through six key principles. Better Cotton is produced by farmers who • Minimise the harmful impact of crop protection practices • Use water efficiently and care for the availability of water • Care for the health of the soil • Conserve natural habitats • Care for and preserve the quality of the fibre • Promote decent work.

How is BCI-verified different from other sustainability certifications?

The characteristics which set BCI apart include the following: » Leverage and scale: BCI’s assurance model enables reliable data gathering at a much more extensive scale than conventional compliance standards. » Market transformation model: BCI was set up to achieve market transformation within the cotton sector and make Better Cotton a responsible mainstream commodity. » Continuous improvement: One of the fundamental tenets of the BCI movement is the principle of not focusing on a compliance checklist but on expecting regular and monitored progress. » Benchmarked standards: BCI works with other standards on benchmarking with the Better Cotton Standard System, ultimately allowing the cotton produced under these benchmarked standards to be sold as Better Cotton, increasing global supply.

What is the growth percentage in the demand for BCI-verified cotton?

We surpassed our membership target in 2015, closing the year with 706 members, including 46 retailers and brands. Last year, our retailer and brand members more than doubled their declared uptake of Better Cotton, year-on-year. In 2014, they declared 117,000 MT of Better Cotton lint, and in 2015 they declared 251,000 MT.
Published on: 08/06/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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