By Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Unilever
"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace."
Today is Universal Children’s Day, and these words spoken by Kofi Annan have never sounded more relevant. Every day, on the news and on social media, we see pictures and read stories of famine and floods, droughts and demonstrations; confronting us with the effects of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, food security, civil unrest and poverty. We are increasingly aware of the people left behind.
Many people wonder how we are going to address these challenges, which can feel overwhelming, confusing and insurmountable.
At Unilever, we think that the answer is in our children.
A recent piece of research, especially commissioned, shows that children’s awareness and values with regard to sustainability have never been stronger. Seven out of 10 children are aware of key global issues (to the surprise of their parents), but nine out of 10 are still optimistic about their future. Importantly, nine out of 10 parents are inspired by their children to live more sustainably.
Seeing the world through the eyes of their children is increasing parents’ desire to lead a more sustainable life. So, the answer is not leaving these challenges for their generation to solve, but rather to start addressing them now, to give our children a better world in which to live.
We have extensive experience and research into what drives – and what limits – mass behaviour change. We know people all over the world want to adopt more sustainable behaviours, but these need to be easy and to fit with the way they live their lives.
We also know that parenthood creates a profound shift in people’s view of the world and what the anticipated future will mean for the lives of their children. It is a key moment in life in which people are open to change behaviours.
Based on these insights, today Unilever launches Project Sunlight, a new initiative that builds on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and which aims to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Through Project Sunlight, our intent is to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people to look at the possibilities of a world where everyone lives well and within the natural limits of the planet. It aims to galvanise and build momentum behind a movement that is already happening.
Project Sunlight invites people to get involved in doing small things which help their own families, others around the world and the planet. Simple, small, everyday actions, which can add up to make a big difference.
And to mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping two million children through its ongoing partnerships, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; supporting Save the Children to provide clean, safe drinking water; and improving hygiene through UNICEF.
Children today have not known anything other than this world. They see the problems, but they retain hope and still feel that they will be able to make things better, to create a better world for themselves and for those around them. We owe it to them to try and give them a brighter future, to make sustainable living commonplace.
Join Project Sunlight at www.projectsunlight.com