Unilever launches Project Sunlight – a new initiative to inspire sustainable living

London/Rotterdam, 20th November 2013. Unilever is following up its Sustainable Living Plan with the launch of Unilever Project Sunlight, a new initiative to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Project Sunlight aims 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.

Project Sunlight, which launches today, on Universal Children’s Day, in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the US, is designed to appeal to people everywhere, and in particular parents, encouraging them to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations. To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping 2 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 improved hygiene through UNICEF.

Unilever Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Keith Weed, explains: “Project Sunlight aims to galvanise and build momentum behind a movement that is already happening. We know people all over the world want to adopt more sustainable behaviours, but need these to be easy and to fit with the way they live their lives. As a global consumer goods company, we have the means to help people realise this ambition. We have extensive experience and research into what drives – and what limits – mass behaviour change. From this experience, we 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.”

“In the first stage of Project Sunlight, we are inviting people to take three simple actions. We want to help people SEE a brighter future; in order to do this, we are inviting people to watch a film online which aims to inspire and motivate people. We want to encourage them to ACT by doing small things which, added together, contribute to a better society and environment. Ultimately, we want people to JOIN the movement and become part of a growing community of likeminded people and organisations who all want to play their part in building a brighter future,” adds Weed.

The film, especially commissioned by Unilever working with Ogilvy & Mather and DAVID Latin America, and directed by Academy Award winning director Errol Morris, will inspire people to see the future in a more positive and optimistic way. The film can be watched at www.youtube.com/ulprojectsunlight(Link opens in a new window).

Project Sunlight will initially live in an online hub – www.projectsunlight.com(Link opens in a new window) – which brings together the social mission stories of Unilever’s brands across the world, and invites consumers to get involved in doing small things which help their own families, others around the world and the planet.  Some of the brand programmes featured include Lifebuoy soap, which helps protect millions of children in Asia, Africa and Latin America from pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease, which kill 2 million children under five each year; Dove, which helps girls across the world improve their self-esteem; Omo, Persil and Surf, whose detergents help families cut their utility bills and CO2 emissions;  Comfort One Rinse, which helps families in water-scarce countries in Asia reduce their water use; and Lipton, Magnum and Knorr, whose use of sustainably grown ingredients helps small farmers grow better crops and improve their livelihoods.

Project Sunlight has been informed by the wealth of Unilever’s consumer insight, including a new international piece of research commissioned by Unilever. This shows that children are key to motivating adults to want to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and a powerful influence on parents changing their behaviour. 9 out of 10 parents say children’s natural optimism and enthusiasm inspires them to make the world a better place, and 7 out of 10 parents say their main motivation for wanting to live in a greener way is their children’s future. The research also shows that there are key child-related moments, particularly around the birth of a first child, when people are more open to changes in their own behaviours and lifestyles.

“We chose the name Sunlight as a tribute to our founder William Lever, whose audacious vision 130 years ago to ‘make cleanliness commonplace’ with Sunlight soap inspired Unilever’s equally ambitious purpose today: to make sustainable living commonplace. Sunlight also reflects the sense of possibility and optimism which characterises Unilever’s approach,” adds Weed. “We believe that large companies like ours have to be part of the solution to the problems the world is facing. Adopting sustainable lifestyles and people using their purchasing power to make consumption choices that are good for them and good for the world are important factors in the drive to reducing social inequality and averting the worst climate change predictions – to make sustainable living commonplace.”

Jay Aldous, head of WFP's Private Partnerships Division, comments: "With Unilever's ongoing support, the World Food Programme is playing a vital role in protecting the next generation by providing nutritious food to pregnant mothers or women of child-bearing age and delivering the right food to growing children so that they can realise their full intellectual and physical potential. For the next generation, a sustainable future is the only kind of future worth living.”

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children: “Together, Save the Children and Unilever are helping to save children’s lives through improving access to life-saving health care, training health workers and delivering high-impact nutrition programmes. Through Project Sunlight, our ground breaking work together continues to save lives.”

Tim Hunter, UNICEF Deputy Director of Fundraising, concludes: “Unilever’s support to UNICEF’s sanitation programmes has already made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of children, and the funding from this new initiative will help reach a further 500,000 children.  By supporting us in providing handwashing facilities and promoting group handwashing programmes across 3,500 schools in India, Project Sunlight will be helping these children to have a healthy start in life.” 

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About Save the Children

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. They save children's lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential. For more information visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk(Link opens in a new window) Through Project Sunlight, Unilever’s funding will help Save the Children to give clean and safe drinking water for up to 500,000 children in emergency response programmes.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit www.unicef.org(Link opens in a new window). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About World Food Programme

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance. Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media.

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