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New Partnership Helps Global Brands Know Where Your Cotton Comes From

The Sourcery and HAP are announcing a joint effort to bring to market a transformative new approach to supply chain engagement, transparency and assurance.

Through Sourcery’s Direct-to-Grower™ programme, which connects brands, retailers and suppliers directly with growers (farmers), and the HAP Dynamic Assurance Network brands, suppliers and governments will gain deeper insight, clearer accountability and responsive collaboration to address the well-known social and labour challenges at the textile industry farm level.

As the trail of where our favorite jeans, shirts or home goods come from continues to expand across the globe – consumers, government and global brands alike want more transparency, accountability and data integrity into where cotton is grown and how our products are made. Through this partnership, the apparel industry will for the first time be able to have a clear view into the labour conditions at raw materials, understand true social and environmental impact of their products and be empowered to intervene through partnership rather than punitive action.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 20 million people around the world are subjected to forced labor or modern slavery in the private economy, generating more than US $150 billion annually. While the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) annual report documents the presence of forced labor in 70 countries across a wide and diverse set of consumer products. This is especially the case in major cotton growing regions where an estimated 50 million farming households often have to rely on migratory and low-skilled labour pools to manage, pick and process cotton.

"Tracing where our cotton comes from in corporate supply chains is both a difficult task and supplier relationship conversation for companies" said Andre Raghu CEO of HAP, "However a shift to smart traceability paired with advanced incentivized engagement will break through the complexity by encouraging growers to embrace transparent and responsible operations as well as better ensure products produced under child or forced labor and/or false claims, are not making their way into our stores, shopping malls and other retail outlets."

In all too many parts of the global economy, workers’ rights violations are accepted as business as usual. In cotton specifically, child and forced labor continues to be a pervasive challenge today in many of the world’s leading growing regions. "Conventional approaches to facility-based auditing is not fit-for-purpose in the cotton agricultural supply chains." said Raghu. Despite the acknowledgment of modern slavery’s global pervasiveness, most of the sector is unable to identify workers’ rights violations and abuses at raw materials due to status quo assurance models. This is partly due to the complexities and opacity of the global commodity trade and the assumption that ‘sustainable’ cotton is immune to commercial, social, environmental realities at the farm level.

Most companies are not in a position to fully understand the challenges let alone engage and positively intervene to address these issues head on—now they can.

As governments ramp up their enforcement on the ban of imports produced by modern slavery, the financial sectors interest in where your cotton comes from has also intensified as sustainable investors grapple with questions around conflicting ESG ratings and who’s data can be trusted.

"The financial community cannot rely on a estimates and proxies when pricing risk, Direct-to-Grower enables the farmers themselves to demonstrate social and sustainability performance through direct engagement and primary data that directly substantiates fibre claims." said Crispin Argento, Director at the Soucery.

Starting today, brands, suppliers and governments can begin to work with The Sourcery and HAP through this partnership under the following three-step approach:

Sourcery: Direct-to-Grower™

Strategy development and hands on training and support to brands and suppliers who are committed to sourcing directly from farmers.

HAP: Dynamic Assurance

Accountable approach to social and environmental performance data verification at the farm-level through a technology driven Dynamic Assurance methodology.

Fibre Digitalization

Chain-of-custody guidance and traceability technology due diligence to implement viable and scalable on-product and blockchain traceability solutions from farmer to consumer.
All of us at the Sourcery and HAP believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the cotton sectors most pressing problems. The Sourcery and HAP together bring nearly 40 years of sustainability and social compliance experience and expertise in raw materials and textile supply chains and believe that through Direct-to-Grower engagement and collaboration along with the power of technology, the sector has the tools to address workers’ rights challenges head on and mitigate commercial and reputational risk. "This is not in any way an easy task, but it is the only way forward. Thankfully, these tools have already been proven effective—as brands, suppliers and farms continue to collaborate and deliver meaningful and measurable progress."

Call to action

If you are a brand, supplier or government agency interested in addressing modern slavery at the farm level, we invite you to contact us to begin your journey to the farm. Contact the Sourcery or HAP. The Sourcery: | HAP:

#WhosCotton #DirecttoGrower #DynamicAssurance

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