After the Rana Plaza disaster, the world of fashion seemed to change forever. The industry realized they could not wait for another such catastrophe before taking sustainability to the next level. This was the verdict of the sector experts invited to the Tchibo Sustainability Innovation Lab in March 2017, which NewForesight attended on behalf of the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA). Yet, despite the far-reaching sustainability aspirations of many driven professionals, as well as a number of investments and initiatives geared towards sustainability, the sector’s issues are far from resolution. Tchibo’s Innovation Lab was set up to address this challenge by inviting sector frontrunners to exchange ideas about how we can collaborate to strengthen empowerment and sustainability in global supply chains.

As bringing about such systemic change is the core work of NewForesight, we had much to offer from our experience in a broad selection of sectors, including in the apparel industry. OCA was set up in 2015 by a group of sector frontrunners dedicated to tackling root causes and accelerating the shift towards a prosperous organic cotton sector. Based on NewForesight’s thinking and solutions, we provide ongoing support to OCA to help the sector develop a common Vision, Mission and Theory of Change and a roadmap towards implementation. To realize OCA’s shared vision, we are rolling out targeted interventions this year designed to improve the business case for actors across the organic cotton supply chain, using fit-for-purpose credibility mechanisms to ensure impact. In our experience with OCA as well as with our other projects, a sector platform which convenes key stakeholders around a shared vision and which enables collaboration, increased impact and shared learning, is the key to unlocking systemic change in a sector.

Connecting with like-minded organizations at this innovation lab also gave us the opportunity to share OCA’s Call for Collective Action (available soon on the OCA website); inviting key players to collaborate and organize the sector around a shared a vision and sustainability agenda.  NewForesight has issued similar calls in the coffee and cocoa sectors in the past which were successful in breaking the stalemate in the sector, and enabling systemic change.

“We welcome the continuation of Tchibo’s innovation lab series,” notes Hilde van Duijn, OCA’s Executive Director. “We believe this will allow the industry’s change-makers to continue to exchange ideas and connect different sustainability initiatives. Ultimately, this will aid the sector’s collaborative approach to tackle shared sustainability challenges.” Frontrunners in the organic cotton sector are invited to react to the Call to Action and join the movement for sustainable change in the organic cotton sector by contacting Hilde van Duijn.

Picture Copyright © Tchibo GmbH