Knowledge Note

"The cotton sector faces a variety of sustainability issues, often due to unfavourable trade terms, excessive water consumption, pesticide use, and the use of forced labour"

Cotton is the most widely used natural fibre in textiles, accounting for one-third of total fibres manufactured worldwide. The sector faces a variety of sustainability issues, such as low farm prices, often due to unfavourable trade terms, excessive water consumption, pesticide use, and the use of forced labour. Cotton producers are increasingly using voluntary sustainability standards to address the sector’s sustainability challenges.

Key Messages

  • From 2009 to 2016, the production of cotton compliant with voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) grew to account for at least 14% of the sector.
  • Sustainable sourcing commitments are helping drive demand for VSS-compliant cotton.
  • 100 million people work in cotton farming, about 90% of which grow cotton on less than two hectares of land in developing countries.

 

About Report: This report is the seventh in the International Institute for Sustainable Development's (IISD) Sustainable Commodities Marketplace Series, which presents market information and analysis on agricultural commodities to foster transparency, knowledge, and strategic decision making for sustainable development. You can find complete information on the report HERE.