Improving health and well-being

Unilever's work on improving health & well-being supports

8 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Select one of the goals to find out how we're taking action in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Find out how we’re realising the business opportunity from the SDGs
Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean Water and Sanitation

Nearly a billion people defecate in the open and around 2.5 billion people live without adequate sanitation. Addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs is a significant opportunity for Unilever. Several of our brands directly address these needs through innovative partnerships which drive growth and deliver positive impact at scale.

Domestos, which grew 10% in 2017, has committed to help 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet. Through our partnership with UNICEF, over 10 million people between 2012 and 2016 gained access to a toilet through behaviour-change interventions and capacity-building initiatives – contributing positively to consumer sentiment around the brand.

Pureit, our water purification business, is another brand that is well positioned to address clean water needs in India. It has provided 96 billion litres of safe drinking water since 2005 through the sale of water purifiers, well on its way towards its ambition of providing 150 billion litres by 2020.

Lifebuoy is the world’s number one antibacterial soap, sold in nearly 60 countries, which grew 6% in 2017. It has championed the message of better health through hygiene for well over a century. Since 2010, its programme has reached over 426 million people through schools, health clinics and community outreach – boosting sales in countries with high rates of diarrhoea-related child deaths, such as India.

Our Big Goal Improving health and well-being for more than 1 billion
By 2020 we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Improving health & well-being

Our performance: Health & hygiene

By the end of 2019, we had reached over 1.3 billion people through our programmes on handwashing, safe drinking water, sanitation, oral health, self-esteem and skin-healing.

Over 1.3 billion 615m via on-ground programmes 710m via TV reach
Over 2010-2019 Lifebuoy's handwashing programmes reached 1.07 billion people
55 million people reached with safe drinking water; 114 billion litres since 2005
Over 28 million people gained improved access to a toilet over 2012-2019
102 million people reached with oral health programmes since 2010
Over 60 million young people received help via Dove self-esteem programmes over 2005-2019
Over 5 million people reached through our Vaseline healing project since 2015

Our performance: Nutrition

56% of our foods met the highest nutritional standards in 2019, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines
70% of our foods met our 5g per day target for salt intake
-23% sugar across all our sweetened tea-based beverages reduced since 2010
93% of our packaged ice cream contained 250 calories or fewer per portion
% Of target achieved

Our approach

Lack of safe drinking water, and poor sanitation and hygiene, cause millions of preventable deaths each year – particularly among children. We achieved our target of helping more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene in 2018 – two years early. This will help reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea, which is one of the main causes of deaths in children under five.

The way the world produces and consumes food today is unsustainable. Malnutrition is unacceptably high and at the same time more than 1 billion people are obese. By 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the Highest Nutritional Standards – reducing sugar, salt and fat – based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet. Our aim is to provide products that taste good, make people feel good and are a force for good.

Our approach encompasses health and hygiene and improving nutrition. We are uniquely placed to deliver change at scale as we are the only multinational consumer goods company with a portfolio across Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, Foods and Refreshment. The business case is compelling – delivering our commitments is driving more growth, lower costs, less risk and more trust.

Our approach, which directly supports a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on:

  • Selling appealing products with health, hygiene and nutrition benefits
  • Encouraging people to take action on health, hygiene and nutrition through behaviour change programmes
  • Advocating to bring these issues higher up the national and international policy agenda
  • Working with partners dedicated to health, hygiene and nutrition, to broaden our impact.

 Independently assured by PwC

* Results are reported by UNICEF in accordance with its methodology and includes reach from direct and indirect initiatives over 2012-2019; and also includes Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Futures reach of over 70,000 children by the end of 2019.

  The Domestos reach reported in our Annual Report and Accounts 2019 was under-reported and should say “Domestos has built on its partnership with UNICEF, which helped more than 28 million people (between 2012 and 2019) access better sanitation and hygiene”.

Health & hygiene

Kids washing their hands

We’re helping to drive transformational change through our brands, and our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) agenda.

Improving nutrition

Hellmanns Mayonnaise

Our vision is of Sustainable Nutrition – foods and refreshments that taste good, feel good and are a force for good.