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
Life on Land

Life on Land

Globally, biodiversity is in decline. According to the IUCN Red List, more than 23,000 species are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds. Deforestation is a particular threat, as forests support 80% of terrestrial biodiversity, and around 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on them for food, medicines, fuel, shelter, jobs and livelihoods.

As one of the world’s largest users of agricultural raw materials including tea, vegetables and vegetable oils such as palm and soy, we rely on the ecosystems in which crops are grown – and on the prosperity of communities who are also reliant on these ecosystems. So, the business case for protecting biodiversity is quite simple: without biodiversity, there is no business. Yet agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation. That means we need to change the way agriculture works.

Protecting biodiversity is central to our Sustainable Agriculture Programme, which drives our work with suppliers and farmers, and is at the heart of our USLP commitment to source our agricultural raw materials sustainably. At the same time, we've joined others in our industry in a commitment to zero net deforestation associated with four commodities – palm oil, soy, paper and board, and beef – no later than 2020. We have extended this commitment to our tea businesses and supply chains.

Our particular focus is on palm oil sourcing, where we have the scale to make a difference – and where dedicated work with suppliers and smallholders is at the heart of our commitment to source 100% physically certified palm oil for our core volumes by 2019.

Explore how Unilever is taking action

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.