Global OCRT 2019, Vancouver

Global OCRT 2019, VANCOUVER 1

When & Where


Textile Exchange’s Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) is a global stakeholder platform that supports and brings together the organic cotton community to be inspired, mobilized, and equipped to act. Each year, we hold a Global OCRT Summit alongside Textile Exchange’s annual Textile Sustainability Conference, in addition to Regional OCRTs held through the year. The 2019 Global OCRT Summit took place under the crosscutting theme Greater Together | SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals. The day highlighted some of the most inspiring partnerships emerging in the world of organic cotton and celebrated the progress being made, particularly in the areas of production, integrity, and seed. Read on to catch up on the day’s highlights.

Graphic recordings by Textile Exchange Ambassador, Carlotta Cataldi. Click to expand.


The day kicked off with a warm regional welcome from Jimmy Wedel of TOCMC, followed by a heartwarming story told by Textile Exchange’s Managing Director La Rhea Pepper of the letters she and her late husband wrote to each other with their vision for the organic cotton sector. Cara Chacon of Patagonia followed with a heart-stopping reminder of the issues facing our planet and the urgency with which we must act.

“Keep the vision, build the bridges, and be willing to take the journey.”

Simon Cooper, Global Communications Lead, UNDP GCP| MC for the day

Jimmy Wedel, President, Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative

La Rhea Pepper, Managing Director, Textile Exchange

Cara Chacon, VP, Social and Environmental Responsibility


Members of the Organic Cotton Collective Impact (OCCI) initiative then presented the progress being made and the next steps of the collaboration between Textile Exchange, OCA and the wider organic cotton sector.


Kathleen Wood Organizational Development Consultant


Arun Ambatipudi, Co-Founder and Advisor, Chetna Organic
Crispin Argento, Executive Director, Organic Cotton Accelerator
Cara Chacon,VP  Social and Environmental Responsibility, Patagonia
Sabrina Mueller,Lead Manager Sustainability, Tchibo
Liesl Truscott, Director of European & Materials Strategy, Textile Exchange


This session provided insights from key regional representatives on each region’s production trends, future outlook, and the progress of key regional initiatives. Each regional representative posed a challenge that the region is currently facing and invited attendees to join them in co-creating a solution during the lunch break.


Simon Cooper, Global Communications Lead, UNDP GCP | MC for the day


Amish Gosai, South Asia Manager, Textile Exchange
Hammad Khan, Director General, WWF Pakistan
Lakshmi Poti, Programme Manager | Sustainable Raw Materials, C&A Foundation
Sandra Marquardt, Regional Ambassador – USA, Textile Exchange
Silvio Moraes, Regional Ambassador – Latin America, Textile Exchange
Evonne Tan, Regional Data Management & China Strategy Director, Textile Exchange
Silvere Tovignan, Regional Ambassador – Africa, Textile Exchange
Aydin Unsal, Owner, Egedeniz


Each organic cotton producing region had a dedicated Regional Hub on the outskirts of the room. All attendees were invited and encouraged to take a virtual “tour of the regions” during the lunch break and then join a table discussion at one of the regions to participate in the co-creation of a manifesto for organic cotton.


Manifesto statement: “Make organic cotton an accessible choice”


  • Make a platform to connect producers & suppliers
  • Finding ways to encourage brand engagement: e.g. labelling transitional cotton
  • Explaining benefits by
    • Farm level: e.g. training farmers to organic principles (beyond a checklist)
      • Invest in farmer to farmer extension services
    • Building the value case
    • Addressing price barriers – working with the supply chain:
      • closer collaboration -> price clarity right back to raw material stage
      • addressing efficiencies and risks – identifying clearly the issues and the interventions needed
    • Right relationships – alignment between the different parts of the supply chain
    • Innovate to address issues – answers/interventions may be different/at different scales – not-site-fits-all.
    • Working with government (e.g. taxation, regulation or subsidies)/both in producing and consumer countries:
      • Aligning strategy of sector
      • Lobbying on key issues
    • Honest conversation and reflections on what we can do to be part of the value chain (don’t blame others for what is going wrong and take responsibilities for what you can change)
    • Direct support between brands & farms to connect producers and suppliers (facilitated by initiatives like C&A Foundation, Cotton Connect, etc.):
    • General point:
      • Interventions must be multiple. No single answer (holistic problems need holistic solutions).
      • Learn from what has worked somewhere else. E.g.: India government support driver demand.
        • Innovate-share best practices (more the whole bell curve)
        • Look at what has worked with other successful schemes and replicates.
OCRT 2019 Flipchart Global 1
OCRT 2019 Flipchart Global 2

Manifesto statement: Leverage manufacturing capacities for organic cotton in Africa. Need to develop the issues in concrete work streams:

  • Promote local existing advantages and build connections at regional level, e.g.: OC yarn available in Burkina for local handicraft, existing manufactures in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast)
  • Convince brands to take commitment, e.g. small brands with specific products
  • Work on the quality
  • Start with the worldwide supply chain. See what is already possible, invest locally after
  • Engage with the government to promote investments in the OC manufacturing sector


OCRT 2019 Flipchart Africa

Manifesto statement: One name for organic in China

  • Chatham house rules and anti-trust – Social issues around Xinchang. Not a lot of transparency, need to have a safe space to talk about it. To our knowledge happening at factory level and not at farm level, OC supply chain apparently not affected by it.
  • Need for organic seed and greater research. Lot of investments in India but not in China. Huge barrier for smaller farmers, need to encourage smaller farms to grow OC. Very small number of producer groups
  • Awareness raising at government level: OC too small component at supply chain level, more on making higher part of supply chain sustainable. Water good entry point. In Xinchang, desert area and salty lands. Education on better water use practices
  • Price: OC much higher rest of world. Focus on higher end. Target new products (blends) x specific market.

Lot of terms behind organic (eco, bio, etc.) at local level certified with national Chinese program. Agree on what term to use when selling organic certified as OCS and GOTS to grow domestic demand. Make brands agree on a term for OC.

Manifesto statement: Dreams for the US: increasing production and manufacturing products of organic cotton

  • Supply chain infrastructure: a big part of the supply chain currently stops at the gin. Need to develop the post-gin stages including the spinning, dyeing etc.
  • In/external costs: need to internalize the external costs of outsourcing in the products particularly the costs that are not in the US price
  • Raise consumer awareness: need to further educate consumers
  • Corporate initiative: not wait have companies move e.g. Patagonia
  • Full apparel line in GOTS: develop full OC fashion lines to allow people to wear only OC (Europe more advanced)
  • Have data-backed evidence for change: to help companies make decisions.
OCRT 2019 Flipchart USA

Manifesto statement: Scaling-up production in Latin America & the Caribbean

  • Replicating/adapting the Chetco model from India taking into account the specificities of the region
  • Creating a WG on OC at the Sustainable Fashion Lab (now broadly on sustainable textile) to promote OC and to help farmers scale their production (as a first step to develop a Regional-OCRT in Latin America)
  • Build strategic partnerships at regional level and learn from success (Bergman/ Rivera model): Brazil x Peru
  • Work with governments: policy making x advocacy specifically on issues of certification and integrity -> need to be discussed
OCRT 2019 Flipchart LatAm

Manifesto statement: Happiness important for each player

Start with farmers:

  • Not only price but empowerment
  • Understanding ground reality: quality x integrity
  • Support in-conversion farmers (first 3 years): buy x sell
  • Giving comfort and security is important to improve integrity
  • Pay the extra cost of sustainable production (not a premium) –> securing future

Supply chain: work on demand side -> get commitment of partners for sustainable material to bring more volume and uptake to secure on the long run and recognize effort

Brand and retailers:

  • make consumers happy with providing OC
  • secure supply chain longer run, support efforts farmers and key stakeholders by incentivizing with money x recognition with marketing tools to help them increase productivity and scale up
  • need to get commitment from CEOs with sourcing % of OC

Building the trust together for a bigger impact (sell story in a better way)

Implement tools x technology (Textile Exchange)

OCRT 2019 Flipchart South Asia

Manifesto statement: 10% increase in OC of cotton production share in Turkey, EMENA & CA, work along the chain:

  • Start from change makers and brand commitment
  • Consumer demand from awareness and education
  • Supplier loyalty/commitment x collaboration -> all along the supply chain
  • Government subsidies/import tax for organic products to stimulate production.
  • New price mechanism to limit multiplication extra costs linked to organic to end products and allow affordable products
OCRT 2019 Flipchart Turkey EMENA_CA


The afternoon started back with a lively role play session in the style of a court case. A dual-fishbowl set up saw one side argue that suppliers should be walked away from if integrity issues were found, while the other argued that the issues should be worked through together.

#1. “Our side would walk away from a supplier if we discovered integrity problems”
#2. “Our side would work with our suppliers if we found integrity problems”

Each thoughtstarter had been assigned to one side of the argument and an expert Jury gave their input before going to a full audience vote.


Rhett Godfrey, Co-Founder & Lead Coordinator, Chetna Coalition
Tobias Meier, Senior Project Manager Green Economy, ecos
La Rhea Pepper, Organic Cotton Farmer, Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative
Brad Boren, Director of Innovation & Sustainability, Norrøna
Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President, Regulatory & Technical Affairs Organic Trade Association
Lori Wyman, GOTS Representative for North America


Prama Bhardwaj, CEO, Mantis World | Chair of Textile Exchange’s Pan-Africa Sourcing Working Group
Eric Ducoin, Managing Director – Sourcing, Biocoton
Aydin Unsal, Owner, Egedeniz Tekstil A.S.
Bruno Van Steenberghe, Founder, KALANI S.A.


Commercializing non-GM cotton hybrids

Subindu Garkhel, Senior Cotton and Textiles Lead, Fairtrade Foundation
Shivraj Singh Raghuvanshi, Seed Expert, Pratibha Syntex Pvt. Ltd.

Panel discussion

This session began with a short introduction from Subindu Garkhel, session moderator, to introduce the broad topic and the issues the industry is facing. The focus was on celebrating the progress and investments that are being made, particularly in India where the problem is most critical.


Subindu Garkhel, Senior Cotton and Textiles Lead, Fairtrade Foundation



Nandakumar Rajagopalan, Co-Founder & CEO, CHETNA ORGANIC, India
Zach Rees, 
Cotton Lead, Gowan Seed Company
Shivraj Singh Raghuvanshi, 
Seed Expert, Pratibha Syntex Pvt. Ltd.
Christa Suter
, CEO, bioRe Foundation
Bart Vollard, Program Director, Organic Cotton Accelerator


Kering Logo
GOTS logo
Mantis World

Thanks also to the 2019 conference sponsors supporting this Round Table:

supply shift logo
Global OCRT 2019, VANCOUVER 2
ChainPoint Logo
Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Coop (TOCMC) Logo



Series 1: Business as if People Mattered. Filmed during the 2016 OCRT in Hamburg, Germany.

Series 2: West Africa’s otton Trailblazers. Filmed during the 2018 Regional OCRT in Koudougou, Burkina Faso.


“Excellent global insight and education”

“Very comprehensive, interesting and informative”

“Inspiring, dedicated people with one common goal”

“Rich day with a lot of experience shared between organic cotton actors”

“The OCRT is very important to educate all value chain actors”

“The dialogue was content rich”

“Especially good to hear from South America and Turkey”

“Great to hear so many voices, very democratic”

“Very well organised round table, many good topics discussed”

“We need to look at livable incomes in a specific geographical region and determine the true cost of production, making sure that there is a sustainable margin on that.”

- Heinrich Schultz Organimark, & Chair of Textile Exchange Catalyst

“We believe now is the time to embed a common agenda through a connected community, to drive meaningful adoption of organic cotton, and to solidify our role in the sustainable cotton continuum.”

- La Rhea Pepper, Managing Director, Textile Exchange

“Being a first timer at the OCRT was incredibly inspiring. The access to industry thought leaders from Burkina Faso to Jaipur helped me gain a clearer picture of the challenges and immense promise of Organic Cotton. I walked away from the day feeling well informed and part of a larger ecosytem of smart and dedicated people committed to organic cotton and sustainability. It made me proud to be an OCRT sponsor. Thank you!”