Unilever - transforming lives

Unilever - transforming lives

Unilever-SoR-BannerUnilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, and home and personal care products with sales in over 190 countries that reach 2 billion consumers on any given day.

Its brands include Omo, Lifebuoy, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Signal, Lipton, Walls’ ice cream, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) has a vision to double the size of the business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. One major target is to improve the health of 1 billion people through helping them to adopt healthier behaviors; such as washing their hands with soap. This is a simple, cost-effective way of reducing the incidence of diarrhea and pneumonia that could help prevent 600,000 child deaths every year.

By the end of 2014, Unilever had reached nearly 400 million people with its health behavior change campaigns and Unilever R&D has played a key role in this ambition. It has helped to develop theoretically-driven approaches to changing behavior and led scientifically rigorous studies to assess their impact. However, Unilever cannot achieve these targets alone, it needs to form powerful partnerships with governments and NGOs, and bring in leading-edge thinking on behavior change from academia.

In September 2015, Unilever announced ‘Project Transform’, a Public-Private Partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID or UK AID) and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP).This £15m, five-year programme, will bring together the resources and capabilities of all three organisations to help entrepreneurs create radical new business solutions that provide for low-income households’ basic needs around water, sanitation, hygiene, and energy. Project Transform aims to have impacted the lives of 100 million people by 2025.

CGEP’s self-sustainable network for selling a broad basket of goods enables the organization to introduce new products in the areas of water, hygiene, sanitation, and energy, specifically targeted to improving the lives of low-income communities.

Project Transform benefits Unilever through helping to deliver their sustainable living, while DfID and CGEP get access to Unilever’s product distribution networks, and scientific and marketing expertise.

However, to be successful, Project Transform needs the capabilities of other parties. Through its Global Partnerships Team, it has strategic alliances with UNICEF; Oxfam; The World Food Programme; Population Services International; and ‘The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Unilever’s R&D team brings scientific and technology expertise through partnerships, such as with the Hygiene Centre at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The Hygiene Centre, led by Dr Val Curtis, is a world-leading centre specializing in the science of behavior change. The centre provides thought leadership in behavior change in developing countries, with interests as broad as hand washing, nutrition, breast-feeding, sanitation, and water purification.

The Hygiene Centre has provided Unilever with the latest thinking in behavioral science over many years, as well as access to their wider network of academics.

These unique partnership networks mean that Project Transform represents a huge opportunity to make a significant positive impact to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

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