Over the past year, we’ve covered much of Unilever’s sustainability progress, including a goal to double it’s renewable energy purchases and a 40% reduction in its carbon emissions. Unilever recently announced additional goals aimed at magnifying its positive impact on the world. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the company announced the launch of the Unilever Foundation, a global charity that will be key to helping the company reach its goal of improving the health and quality of life of more than one billion people around the world. This is an ambitions goal, but it’s one that fits very well with Unilever’s brand and strengths.
“We live in a rapidly changing world. One where populations are growing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and where food security is a growing issue. Unilever is committed to addressing the unmet social needs that our business can play a unique role in helping to solve,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever. “This is especially true in developing and emerging markets where we have deep roots.”
The company plans to accomplish its goal of reaching one billion people through partnerships with several well-known humanitarian organizations on a number of global initiatives focused on hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem.
Unilever has also published it’s intention to double the size of the company while reducing its environmental impact and delivering increased social value. According to Weed, the company will work toward achieving these ambitious goals by delivering life-saving solutions with the help of its partners. Here is look at some of those partnership initiatives which strategically position the Foundation to address a wide range of very important issues across the globe:
Oxfam International: poverty and inequality
According to Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, the first program that Unilever will work on with Oxfam will be in the UK, “providing food parcels to the very poorest people and helping them move from surviving to thriving.” The partnership will then work to extend this initiative worldwide, focusing on two issues that are core to Oxfam’s efforts to tackle poverty and inequality – women’s rights and access to clean drinking water.
Save the Children: children’s health
The Unilever Foundation will work with Save the Children to improve the lives of children around the world. The partnership will increase access to health workers and life-saving vaccines, and ensure more children and mothers are reached with high-impact health and nutrition programmes. According to Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International, “The support from Unilever will bring us a step closer to ensuring that a health worker is within reach of every child, life-saving vaccines are available for all, and children have enough food to grow up healthy.”
UNICEF: health and sanitation
Unilever’s work with UNICEF will improve sanitation in developing countries through the Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (‘CATS’) initiative. This behavior change program promotes good hygiene practices and helps create demand for access to toilets. Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director, talked about the potential impact of this partnership: “Improved sanitation could prevent the deaths of over one million children each year so these investments have enormous potential for the future health and strength of their societies.”
PSI: hygiene and drinking water
PSI is a global non-profit organization dedicated to improving people’s health in the developing world. By supporting them, the Unilever Foundation is making a contribution to improving the health of children and families through behavioral change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water and sanitation. Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI, expressed excitement about working with Unilever: “By pooling ideas and resources, private companies and health organizations can improve the health of millions of children and families worldwide.”
The World Food Programme (WFP): nutrition and livelihoods
The WFP will use Unilever’s support to fund Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a sustainable, scalable model to improve health, nutrition, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said that, “With millions of children around the world suffering from malnutrition, there has never been a better time to take action on this truly solvable problem.”
Kara Scharwath is a corporate social responsibility professional, marketing consultant and Sustainable Management MBA Candidate. She is currently working as a Graduate Associate in Corporate Citizenship at the Walt Disney Company while pursuing her degree at Presidio Graduate School. Follow her on Twitter @karameredith.