The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (CBA), established in 2020 by His Majesty King Charles III, when he was the Prince of Wales, and gathering institutional and business actors is developing sustainable cotton production in Africa in a regenerative agroforestry system, which is part of the Great Green Wall project.
In addition to local government and research organizations, this collaboration brings together an exceptional diversity of partners with experience in multiple areas. By participating in this project, the world’s leading luxury group, LVMH, takes a further step in line with its environmental program, LIFE360, and its commitments to regenerative agriculture. This joint effort also includes the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Reforest’Action, European Forest Institute (EFI) and Pretaterra.
In a region particularly subject to difficult climatic conditions, Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% from 1963 to 2001, and at the current rate of recession could disappear about 20 years from now. Industrial water-intensive cotton production is one of the drivers for this loss.
To address this, the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance’s unique Living Lab in Chad puts forward new sustainable and regenerative methods of cotton production while restoring biodiversity and creating economic opportunities for the local population linked to sustainable cotton value chains. Thanks to the support of LVMH, the Living Lab will be able to focus on regenerative agroforestry and land restoration, working with 500 cotton farmers to plant fruit or timber trees alongside their cotton crops.
Introducing diverse trees into cotton farms helps with soil fertility and water retention, increases biodiversity, and also helps boost income for local farmers. For example, fruit trees like mango and ber can provide both food for the farmer’s personal consumption or be sold in local markets. Some tree species fix nitrogen, providing soil fertilization as well as fodder for livestock. Tall tree species can provide a protective forest cover and reduce evapotranspiration, reducing water requirements.
Working with the local community, the Living Lab will establish community tree nurseries to grow quality planting materials. It also supports access to planting and harvesting equipment, product storage, and sustainable irrigation technologies. At the other end of the process, the Living Lab also aims to improve existing cotton value chains, as well as creating markets for complementary crops like cassava, maize and pepper.
“This is a very special project for the CBA as we demonstrate how the need to decarbonise economic sectors like the fashion industry can act as a catalyst to restore degraded landscapes – turning them into regenerative ones while providing jobs, prosperity and hope to Africa. The climate-poverty-land degradation crisis affecting Africa requires holistic approaches, connecting regenerative landscapes to sustainable markets,” said Circular Bioeconomy Alliance Chair Marc Palahí.
“Through its LIFE360 environmental strategy, LVMH has committed to making the protection of biodiversity and fighting climate change an absolute priority, and to being an exemplary actor of change. LVMH has set the target to implement regenerative agriculture in all strategic supply chains and to preserve 5 million of hectares by 2030. Already supporting regenerative cotton production in Turkey, LVMH is proud to support its new project in Chad to preserve local biodiversity, fight climate change and desertification,” said Hélène Valade, LVMH Environmental Development Director.
“A core component of the global work of the IRC is to develop innovative, scalable and resilient solutions with local communities most impacted by the growing climate crisis. We are delighted to be doing just that in Chad in partnership with the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance – working together to restore biodiversity, heal degraded soil and strengthen local livelihoods through sustainable and resilient farming solutions. The IRC has seen first-hand the growing toll of climate change across Africa – and the significance of innovative programs like this one for the millions already living with the consequences,” said David Miliband, International Rescue Committee President and CEO.
The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance
It was established in 2020 by His Majesty King Charles III when he was the Prince of Wales. It provides knowledge-informed support as well as a learning and networking platform to connect the dots between investors, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations and local communities to advance the circular bioeconomy while restoring biodiversity globally. The European Forest Institute hosts the Secretariat of the Alliance.