Cotton production in context
World Resources Institute’s Roadmap to Net Zero in the Apparel Sector revealed that 39% of greenhouse gas emissions in the fashion supply chain are emitted at the farm and raw material processing stages. Therefore, as fashion brands focus on meeting their net zero carbon and nature positive commitments, they must transform how raw materials are produced and processed.
Brands typically work with a complex network of small and large suppliers across geographies, and as a result they often have very limited direct relationships with their material producers. This makes it challenging to encourage and incentives their suppliers to adopt the sustainability practices that will enable the fashion industry to transform so carbon emissions are reduced, nature is replenished and raw material producing communities thrive.
Pilio is leading the development of Village Insetting for cotton in partnership with HIMA^Verte, which aims to enable UK and global fashion brands to invest in the sustainability of raw material producing communities, demonstrating their commitment to producers, net zero and biodiversity.
Village insetting works by calculating a fashion brand's cotton sustainability impacts to then determine and facilitate an ESG investment that the brand is willing to make in order to create a resilient and sustainable cotton growing communities.
The brands in return for the ESG investment will receive a data-driven ESG impact report demonstrating the positive difference their investment has made to the cotton communities they source. This will result in building strong brand partnerships within their supplier chain networks, as well as strong brand relationship with their customers, who increasing want to buy their clothes from brands that can evidence their social and environmental integrity.
Village Insetting for cotton
The aim of the village inset for cotton is to reduce their carbon emissions, increase clean and afford energy, increase soil health and biodiversity as well as improve gender, equality and social inclusion of cotton producing communities. This will be achieved through brands investing in renewable energy infrastructure, regenerative agricultural practices as well as creation of social entreprises.
Village insetting takes a system's approach to sustainability and places the voice of local people centrally in decision-making process in the design and adoption of sustainable energy and farming solutions. The village inset model is being designed to enable brands to go beyond sustainable cotton certification.
To advance Village Insetting, Pilio and HIMA^Verte are undertaking a feasibility study. This entails ensuring the design of the village inset model aligns with brand sustainability commitments, structuring the financing of the solution, and overseeing the adoption of village-level renewable energy infrastructure and regenerative agricultural practices. In this feasibility study Pilio is looking at linking fashion brands with their suppliers in Pakistan, one of the world’s largest producers of cotton.
Pilio and HIMA^Verte is undertaking the following activities in 2022:
Engaging with sustainability managers of fashion brands to gather learning and insights as well as inviting these brands to help co-design the solution.
Piloting renewable energy infrastructure in five Better Cotton villages, including testing solar PV microgrids and setting up dhabas for selling energy savings equipment and services to farmers and households. WWF-Pakistan (a delivery organisation of Better Cotton) and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS, research expertise in microgrid technologies) are partners for testing these elements of the solution to gather insights for replicating and scaling the solution into the larger cotton growing region.
Growing natural coloured cotton in these five villages using regenerative agriculture practices and showcasing the potential of this fibre in the textile market.
Developing the service and technology platform for facilitating the management and reporting of Village Insetting to fashion brands.
Supported by the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst
Our feasibility study is supported by the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst, which aims to accelerate the innovations needed to end energy poverty and improve lives across Africa and Asia. Our 2022 Energy Catalyst project builds upon the initial work that Pilio and HIMA^Verte conducted 2021 in the Multan District of Pakistan investigating sustainable cotton growing and renewable energy solutions.