Innovative impulses reducing the water footprint of the global cotton-textile industry towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Pakistan is the world’s fourth-largest producer of cotton. A major share of textiles sold Germany is produced in Pakistan. The irrigation of cotton plants as well as dyeing and finishing processes during textile production require tremendous amounts of water. In addition, rivers, soil and groundwater are polluted by salinization, intensive use of pesticides and fertilisers, and the discharge of untreated textile waste water.

In InoCottonGROW, Pakistani and German partners work hand in hand towards identifying technically, economically and institutionally feasible ways of increasing the efficiency and productivity of water use along the entire cotton-textile value chain in Pakistan. Our goal is to further develop the concept of the water footprint as a management tool that will support Pakistani decision-makers in managing scarce water resources and that will assist German consumers in making informed choices when purchasing textiles. This joint R&D project will contribute to sustainable water resource management by:

  • advancing the water footprint concept to become a meaningful regional steering instrument for national decision makers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike,
  • assessing strategies towards reaching the UN-Sustainable Development Goals,
  • surveying the current state of water efficiency, water quality, and concurrent usages in Pakistan using a combination of satellite remote sensing (M1), field-site studies (M2), hydrologic (M3) and hydraulic (M4) modelling, company surveys (M5), and monitoring (M7),
  • demonstrating efficient technologies along the cotton-textile value chain, including efficient cotton irrigation (D1), dyes and process chemicals (D2), textile machinery (D3), suitable wastewater treatment processes (D4), and analytical instruments for water pollution monitoring (D5),
  • supporting decision makers with roadmaps, documentary videos, and internet-based footprint tools, providing the base for a Water-Footprint Textile Label rising consumers´ awareness for sustainable consumption.