Workers in a Maharashtra, India gin collect raw cotton from an outdoor supply site. 

Workers in a Maharashtra, India gin collect raw cotton from an outdoor supply site.


Companies face mounting pressures from consumers, regulators, and their own ethical and sustainability commitments when it comes to upholding workers’ rights. Through two pioneering field pilots in the Indian cotton supply chain, Verité’s U.S. Department of Labor-funded Supply Chain Tracing and Engagement Methodologies (STREAMS) project is testing innovative approaches that combine supply chain traceability with robust labor rights due diligence. These pilots represent efforts to develop an evidence-base and resources that will help companies strengthen human rights due diligence efforts proactively, rather than reactively.

On March 1, 2024, STREAMS hosted a workshop in New Delhi, India to validate findings from the traceability field pilots to gather perspectives from supply chain actors and sustainability-focused organizations on key successes and challenges for enabling and scaling traceability and human rights due diligence. Through these efforts, STREAMS and project partners Better Cotton and the Responsible Sourcing Network’s initiative for Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced (RSN YESS) have worked to identify insights and concrete use cases for using traceability in support of labor sustainability and due diligence.  

The workshop consisted of presentations by Verité, Better Cotton and RSN YESS, as well as panel sessions and group discussions on pilot learnings. Panelists included representatives from Cotton Connect, Fairtrade India, ISEAL, Omax Cotspin, Shahi Exports and Sree Santhosh Garments. Thirty-seven participants attended the workshop in all, representing certification and sustainability initiatives, civil society, retailers and brands, fabric and spinning mills, cotton ginners, and audit firms.   

Workshop discussions made clear that there is a shared interest across stakeholder groups in understanding how traceability technologies and approaches can be leveraged to support sustainability and human rights due diligence goals. There was also widespread agreement that traceability technologies are not a silver bullet, and that people and systems-change are central to effectively implementing traceability systems that can meaningfully contribute to human rights.    

As the STREAMS project progresses this year, it will develop a set of tools and resources that leverage learnings from the field pilots to meet the needs and interests of stakeholders seeking to use traceability to help meet due diligence objectives. The project will also translate the learnings from the pilots and the feedback from stakeholders into a comprehensive public report. 

Led by Verité, together with core implementing partners Better Cotton and RSN YESS, the STREAMS project is supporting the piloting of various traceability technologies and due diligence approaches in cotton supply chains in India.   

Working at the nexus of traceability and due diligence, the STREAMS project aims to help companies, advocates, and government officials leverage innovative approaches to increase the downstream and upstream tracing of goods made by child labor and forced labor in order to combat labor abuses throughout global supply chains.   

About the author: Erin Klett is Director of Verité’s Research and Innovation Lab and the Supply Chain Tracing and Engagement Methodologies (STREAMS) project. She has 20 years of experience in research and stakeholder engagement to combat forced labor and human trafficking in global supply chains, with expertise in apparel and electronics. 

STREAMS is supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more about the STREAMS project. Check out the STREAMS Traceability Matrix here