Annual ICAC Meeting on cotton’s sustainability
Switzerland is acting as host of the annual conference of ICAC International Cotton Advisory Council in Interlaken Switzerland and the motto is “How to make the value chain of the cotton sector sustainable”.
Switzerland delegated the director of SECO (the Office for economic cooperation and development), Secretary of State Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, and she delivered the opening speech on October 8, 2012, stating that sustainability along the cotton supply chain is not only creating added value in an ethical sense but offering also new and lucrative business ideas. She pointed out that there are many examples in Switzerland where sustainable cotton textiles have conquered the shelves of retailers.
Over 500 participants of governments, production and trade and NGO’s are discussing up to October 12, 2012, how the global added value chain in the cotton are could be made more sustainable and if the existing criteria are sufficient and they exchange their experiences with sustainability initiatives in the cotton area.
Switzerland is a turntable for the international cotton trade and the government has also a kind of tradition and leadership in sustainability aspects and human rights. SECO supports the professionalising of the negotiations of the Cotton Four-Countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad) and this allows also cotton exporters to express themselves within the WTO World Trade Organisation. Seco is also financing projects in Kyrgyzstan and West Africa, with the aim to make local value chain more sustainable through quality, environmental and social criteria of a biological agriculture and fair trade. Also supported are various global initiatives and innovative multi-stakeholder programmes such as the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
ICAC was founded in 1939 and is one of the oldest international commodity organisations. Under its roof there are 41 cotton producing, user and trader nations and ICAC assists the government of these countries to enhance a solid world cotton economy by sensible international cooperation. At the same ICAC elaborates statistical data and technical information and provides estimates of cotton and textile markets. ICAC serves also as a discussion forum for cotton aspects of international significance.