Improving health and well-being

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

7 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 2018 we had reached 1.24 billion people through our programmes on handwashing, safe drinking water, sanitation, oral health, self-esteem and skin healing.

653 million people reached
Over 2010-2018 Lifebuoy's handwashing programmes reached 459 million people
55 million people reached with safe drinking water; 106 billion litres since 2005
16.5 million people gained improved access to a toilet over 2012-2017
83.5 million people reached with oral health programmes since 2010
Over 35 million young people received help via Dove self-esteem programmes over 2005-2018
Over 4 million people reached through our Vaseline healing project since 2015

Our performance: Nutrition

48% of our foods met the highest nutritional standards in 2018, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines
66% of our foods met our 5g per day target for salt intake
-20% sugar across all our sweetened tea-based beverages reduced since 2010
92% of our packaged ice cream contained 250 calories or fewer per portion
% Of target achieved

Δ In 2018, 48% of our portfolio by volume met the highest nutritional standards. This is based on an assessment of every single product in all countries, and across our total retail and foodservice business.

Our approach

Lack of safe drinking water, and poor sanitation and hygiene, cause millions of preventable deaths each year – particularly among children. By 2020 we will help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene. 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.

Today, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight – that’s 39% of the world’s population – with 40 million children classified as obese. At the same time, micronutrient deficiencies are estimated to impact over 2 billion people. By 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

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

Improving health & well-being pillars

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.

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