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Friday, February 23, 2024

World Cotton Day

The significance of World Cotton Day can be judged by the fact that a single tonne of cotton provides year-round employment for 5 people on average, often in some of the most impoverished regions.

This natural fabric is a life-changing product worldwide that sustains 32 million growers (almost half of them women) and benefits over 100 million families across 80 countries in 5 continents. The United Nations that celebrates World Cotton Day wants to raise the visibility of the cotton sector and awareness of the critical role that it plays in economic development, international trade, and poverty alleviation.

The initiative of World Cotton Day was born in 2019, when four cotton producers in sub-Saharan Africa– Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali, known as the Cotton Four -proposed to the World Trade Organization a World Cotton Day celebration on October 7.

A rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, fair, inclusive, predictable, and transparent international cotton trading system is key to providing a livelihood to hundreds of millions of vulnerable people around the globe.

UN agencies have worked for years towards this mission. For instance, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have helped C-4 to optimize production and improve local processing capacity, as well as to discuss the trade reforms needed to address high trade barriers and inequalities for cotton producers in developing countries. These efforts date back to 2003 through the Cotton Initiative.

Another UN agency, FAO, has long offered developing countries technical and policy support for boosting productivity and creating more opportunities in the cotton value chain. As an example, the +Cotton project is a cooperation initiative with Brazil (another leader in the industry) that helps Latin American producers introduce innovative farming methods.

The FAO on its Website states that the World Cotton Day 2023 took place on 4 October 2023 at the Vienna International Centre in Austria. It was jointly hosted by Secretariats of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and is organized in cooperation with Secretariats of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Trade Center (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).

2023 Theme of World Cotton Day: “Making cotton fair and sustainable for all, from farm to fashion”. The objective of this global celebration is to raise the visibility of the cotton sector and awareness of the critical role that it plays in economic development, international trade, and poverty alleviation.

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

From Cotton Initiative Jacky Broomhead, Senior Traceability Manager discussed ‘Traceability as an innovation for the cotton sector’ – a topic CA has been focusing on as it prepares to launch our Traceability Solution next month and continue to explore how we can create more opportunities, for farmers and the rest of the sector.

The CEO of Cotton initiative Alan McClay spoke at The Economist’s Sustainability Week in London, participating in a panel called ‘Word on the High Street – Making Fashion and Cosmetics Sustainable.’ Cotton Initiative stated that this is a movement and not a moment, and it hopes everyone – brands and retailers, manufacturers, producers and consumers – will join them and be part of something better.
During 2 consecutive years, the World Cotton Day offered an opportunity to share knowledge and showcase cotton-related activities. The key messages during the celebrations include that cotton is an important means of livelihood for millions of smallholders, workers, and their families, providing employment and income.

Cotton exports represent an important source of foreign exchange earnings for several low-income countries, helping to cover their food import bills. Cotton faces several uncertainties on both the production and demand sides that need to be properly addressed if the sector is to realize its full potential in supporting economic growth and sustainable development. The cotton sector at all levels of the value chain represents a way to address wider development concerns to empower women and boost youth employment while ensuring decent work for all.

The mobilization of innovative technologies and resources is vital to ensure that the sector remains viable and sustainable. Greater investments are needed to expand the sector beyond raw cotton production and create new income opportunities, especially for farmers, by adding more value to cotton fiber and developing by-products from other parts of the cotton plant.

A rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, fair, inclusive, predictable, and transparent international cotton trading system is key to providing a livelihood to hundreds of millions of vulnerable people around the globe.

It is critical to reduce trade-distorting domestic support measures for cotton and any other market distortions hampering the benefits of trade liberalization.

Cotton-based filaments are appealing to 3D printers because they conduct heat well; become stronger when wet; and are more scalable than materials like wood. In addition to its fiber used in textiles and apparel, food products can be derived from cotton, such as edible oil and animal feed from the seed.

The top five cotton-producing countries are China, India, the United States of America, Brazil, and Pakistan, which together account for more than three-quarters of global production. It is estimated that about 32 million farmers produce cotton globally and nearly half of them are women.

Around 80 percent of cotton is used in apparel, 15 percent in home furnishings and the remaining 5 percent mostly accounts for non-woven applications, such as filters and padding.

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