London/Rotterdam/Davos, Friday 27th January 2012 — Unilever today announced the launch of The Unilever Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem. To help achieve the Foundation’s mission, Unilever has formed partnerships with five leading global organizations that are committed to creating sustainable change worldwide: Oxfam, PSI, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.
The Unilever Foundation is a key action that Unilever is taking to help achieve its goal of helping more than one billion people improve their health and well-being, and in turn, create a sustainable future.
“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. This is especially true in developing and emerging markets where we have deep roots,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever.
“We aim to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and deliver increased social value. Together with our partners, we will deliver life-saving solutions as we work toward achieving these ambitious goals,” he added.
The challenges of the 21st century are increasingly complex:
- Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
- More than 3.5 million children under 5 die annually from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.
- One child dies every four seconds from preventable and treatable diseases.
- 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
- An estimated 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger.
“Two billion times a day, somebody, somewhere, uses a Unilever brand. Our global reach and scale, coupled with a deep understanding of what triggers consumer behaviours that can lead to a sustainable future, uniquely enable us to drive long-term scalable and systemic change,” added Weed.
The Unilever Foundation will be working with its Global partners on a number of live-saving initiatives:
- The Unilever Foundation’s partnership with Oxfam will improve lives around the world through programmes designed to empower individuals and deliver good nutrition and clean, safe drinking water. According to Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, “Unilever and Oxfam have been working together across the world for quite a number of years so we are pleased to be working with Unilever with the new Foundation as it is set up. The first way that we are going to work together is in the UK, providing food parcels to the very poorest people and helping them move from surviving to thriving. We are looking forward to extending that worldwide, focusing on two pillars core to Oxfam’s work on tackling poverty and inequality – the rights of women and access to clean drinking water.”
- In supporting PSI, the Unilever Foundation is making a tangible contribution to improving the health of children and families through delivering behavioural change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water and sanitation. “The launch of the Unilever Foundation represents the best of what is possible in Davos,” said Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI. “By pooling ideas and resources, private companies and health organizations can improve the health of millions of children and families worldwide. PSI is excited to be working with Unilever, a company that recognizes – and values – the economic impact of good health.”
- The Unilever Foundation is working with Save the Children to save and improve the lives of children around the world. This will involve improving access to health workers and life-saving vaccines, and ensuring more children and mothers are reached with high-impact health and nutrition programmes. The partnership will also provide a platform to catalyse a global movement and generate the public and political will for a global breakthrough on child survival. Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International, said “Save the Children is proud to be selected as a partner for the Unilever Foundation. This partnership will help us to deliver transformational change to millions of children’s lives around the world through our EVERY ONE campaign. Each year 7.6 million children die needlessly of preventable illnesses. 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. Combining our global reach and joint ambition – we can give children the chance to fulfil their potential.”
- The Unilever Foundation and UNICEF are partnering to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (‘CATS’) initiative, a behaviour change program that promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets, and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. “By investing with communities in sanitation, this partnership is helping us break one of the last taboos in public health – open defecation – and demonstrating real leadership for the private sector,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “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.”
- The Unilever Foundation is also partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a scalable and sustainable model to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. “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,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Project Laser Beam is investing in the next generation by ensuring that our children grow up healthy and strong. The knowledge and expertise of partners like the Unilever Foundation help make this goal a reality.”
Additionally, the Unilever Foundation is also working with other organizations worldwide by providing a combination of direct funding, expertise, products and employee support that help to help address country-specific needs primarily aligned with the Foundation’s mission.