Turkey, and the wider region, has huge potential to accelerate growth in organic textiles. Geographically and technically the region has much in its favour. Over 120 motivated stakeholders came together with optimism and vision for an organic future to Think Global, and Act Local.

As part of the collaboration with the Izmir Municipality (İZFAŞ), Textile Exchange commissioned Change Agency to conduct a Market Opportunity Scoping Project (MOSP) for Turkey, Egypt, Central Asia and the wider region. The MOSP involved a series of interviews with companies and organizations representing each section of the region’s value network to explore the market opportunities and identify any blockages or mis-perceptions that need to be dealt with.

On April 28th, İZFAŞ, Textile Exchange and Change Agency orchestrated the first ever Regional Organic Cotton Round Table (R-OCRT) during the EKOLOJİ İZMIR Organic Products Fair at Fuarİzmir to discuss the findings of the MOSP and work with stakeholders to progress the regional strategy. The program for the day can be downloaded here.

The Headlines

The day started with a welcome from Mrs. Z Gül Şener, Executive Board Member of Fuarİzmir, who spoke of her ambition that Izmir should claim its place as the capital of organic cotton.  Heinrich Schultz of Organimark brought positive news from South Africa, where the Sustainable Cotton Cluster is building a model that other countries should learn from.

Then the MOSP findings were presented as catalysts for productive discussion. After hearing reactions to the findings from a number of panelists including Timberland, Egedeniz, Swiss Fair Trade and the local Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the R-OCRT was joined on a live video link by Claire Bergkamp, Head of Sustainability & Ethical Trade of Stella McCartney. She urged the meeting to build on the many strengths of the region – encouraged by her words, delegates spent the afternoon Action Planning along four themes; Governments and NGOs, Sustainable Ecological Regions, Value Chain Opportunities, and the Role of The Market.

The day closed with a fertile harvest of progressive ideas from all four Action Planning groups. These will be brought together into a final report to trigger work in the region.

There was strong interest in taking the Izmir outcomes into a focussed working group to further build out the strategy and convert to a detailed plan to take forward.

“With government officials and civil society willing to act alongside experienced textile processors, farmers and brands, Turkey and its neighbouring organic cotton growing regions are set to step up in organic and take the textile market to new heights in sustainability” Liesl Truscott, European and Materials Strategy Director, Textile Exchange

“We are excited about the next steps for the region, Turkey started as the biggest producer of organic cotton. The region produces good quality cotton and has a highly skilled manufacturing base. It feels like the time is right to move ahead as front runners in cotton and textile sustainability.” Atila Ertem, Textile Exchange Ambassador for Turkey and the wider region.

We would like to extend our thanks to the MOSP sponsors who made this project possible – İZFAŞ, Control Union, KERING, Sanko and Williams-Sonoma.