Perhaps ironically, Sally Uren believes the current coronavirus pandemic could help the Cotton 2040 initiative find a way forward towards more sustainable practices in the medium to long term. “I think COVID-19 is shining a really bright light on the inherent difficulties of cotton, and the broader apparel industry, in the global economy,” she said. “Going forward there is an opportunity, the system doesn’t work terribly well. As consumers come out of this crisis, are they going to vote with their wallets and stick with the brands looking after their suppliers or those running for the hills?
“There is an awareness now of the fragility of global supply chains, and the need to create a more resilient system, and not go back to what we had before. “This COVID-19 is a dress rehearsal for the next crisis, it could be a climate crisis or another pandemic, but it will come because that is the time we’re living in. It’s an enormous opportunity for the cotton industry moving forward. I’m actually getting positive about that.
“The question is how do we use this crisis to create something that’s better and more resilient, something that offers us all hope to navigate these difficult times that we’re living through.” To that end, Cotton 2040 is embarking on a new three-year programme of work with renewed financial backing from the Laudes Foundation, formerly known as the C&A Foundation.