Agriculture Business Development

ITC Celebrates UN resolution on World Cotton Day

Cotton

The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee commend the United Nations General Assembly resolution (A/RES/75/318) of officially recognizing 7 October as World Cotton Day.

It is a historical moment to acknowledge the importance of cotton as a global commodity as well as its vital role in several countries. Cotton generates income and subsistence for millions of people worldwide and has broader economic and social impacts around the world.

The cotton sector provides income for millions of people in Africa, especially those living in rural areas, women and youth working throughout the cotton value chain. Additionally, it is an essential source of foreign exchange earnings.

World Cotton Day contributes to raising awareness in the international community about the valuable contribution of sustainable cotton in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The International Trade Centre’s efforts in this sector focus explicitly on sustainable development and its eco-friendly potential, contributing to making Africa a stronger player in the international trade of cotton and cotton-based products.   

To celebrate World Cotton Day, the International Trade Centre and the World Trade Organization today organized a webinar to discuss the potential of African value chains for the cotton, textile, and clothing sectors (see more details below).

The public event included high-level authorities H.E. Harouna Kabore, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Handicrafts of Burkina Faso, and Jean-Marie Paugam, Deputy Director-General, WTO, among other cotton and textile experts.

The International Trade Centre coordinated the second part of the event that focused on the economic opportunities emerging under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and how to reinforce the efforts for increased African regional trade along the cotton to clothing value chain. The panel also discussed the possibilities that a regional supply chain offers to expand textile and clothing exports to the world while adding value to African cotton.

The webinar will be available soon on the ITC and WTO YouTube channels.

Quotes

Cotton is one of the world’s most actively traded commodities. This simple crop touched the lives of millions of people globally. Cotton has tremendous trade potential, ranging from fibre to clothing or cattle meal to oilseed; cotton is a strategic crop for many African economies, generating income and employment for millions of rural families, women producers, as well as export revenues for producing countries.’

‘At ITC, we have seen the benefits of our work for small scale farmers in Africa. And we have witnessed the changes it has made in their lives. We’ve helped them to grow sustainably and add value to their products. Cotton embodies the heart of our work. We strive to empower small businesses throughout the cotton value chain for better lives while creating a more sustainable future.’

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre

‘The theme for World Cotton Day 2021 is ‘Cotton for Good’ and provides us with an opportunity to shout about the positives of cotton. Not only does cotton provide a livelihood and food security to millions of small farm holders in Africa and Asia but it can be recycled and reused and returned to the earth to biodegrade naturally unlike synthetic fibres. Cotton also sequesters more carbon in the soil and its biomass than it produces as it grows, making it a critically important ally in the fight against climate change. In fact, clothing and bedding are literally only half the story when it comes to cotton as many things that we touch may also have a by-product of cotton in it from cooking oil to animal feed to lipstick. No other natural product can boast of such versatility and World Cotton Day is the perfect time to recognise not only the positives it brings to our lives but especially to the hundreds of millions of people in least-developed countries who depend on cotton.’

Kai Hughes, Executive Director, International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)

Background

On 30 August 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/75/318). The proposition to officialize the date was led by Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali – the Cotton Four or C4, leaders in the cotton production. However, prior to the UN decision, the date was already unofficially celebrated as, in 2019, the International Trade Centre together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Trade Organization and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) launched World Cotton Day to reflect the importance of cotton as a global commodity.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende