Skip to content

Five big announcements we made at Davos this week


The World Economic Forum provides an opportunity for us to further our advocacy objectives and discuss some of the crucial work we’re doing around the world with our partners.

Unilever announcements at Davos

The World Economic Forum (WEF) – which is drawing to a close in Davos, Switzerland – brings together heads of state and government, as well as business leaders, young entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations to discuss global political, economic, social and environmental issues.

With so many key policy-makers and influencers gathered in one place, it is a hugely important platform for us to further our advocacy objectives, such as climate action, sustainable sourcing and women’s empowerment.

It is also an ideal environment for us to launch new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. Which is particularly relevant this year, as WEF’s focus for 2018 is on global efforts to co-design, co-create and collaborate.

Here are five major announcements we made at Davos this week:

Elevating the importance of ‘real’ play

Our Dirt is Good (DiG) brand has been working for many years championing real, shared experiences for people: the kind that get you dirty. Critical to this are children, who have always been the focus for the brand’s purpose.

Children learn through play and when they play with others, they learn more. They build emotional intelligence, an ability to be creative and a capacity to problem-solve. These fundamental skills can’t be gained through a book or a search engine, but are crucial to the development of a child’s future.

Globally, however, play is at crisis point, as children’s lives are out of balance. As highlighted in DiG’s Free the kids campaign, children now spend less time outside than maximum security prisoners.

Even with the success and increasing scale of Outdoor Classroom Day, there is only so much a single brand or organisation can achieve globally. So, working with Edelman and world-renowned education and child development expert, Sir Ken Robinson, we established the Real Play Coalition – with the Lego Foundation, IKEA and National Geographic – to scale our collective mission and impact.

We want to create a movement that elevates the importance of real play. To achieve this, we need to look at two areas: schools and cities. In schools, we aim to provide opportunities for more and better-quality play. And in several major cities, we will commission research to explore the impact on children of the provisions for play that are available or lacking.

Helping to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

Unilever and the Global Fund are combining forces to improve health, reduce infections and save lives in key geographies in Africa and Asia. The Global Fund is a partnership organisation designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. It raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programmes run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.

As part of the strategic partnership, Unilever, the Global Fund and in-country partners, are finalising the roll-out of a first pilot in South Africa to build self-confidence and empower adolescent girls with the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s school programme, Confident Me. This supports Global Funds’ integrated programme to prevent new HIV/AIDS infections in young people.

Unilever and the Global Fund are also already exploring how to leverage Unilever’s hygiene behaviour change expertise to support Global Fund’s work on preventing critical diseases. For example, using Lifebuoy’s proven methodology to teach children and mothers to wash their hands with soap at key moments during the day.

Accelerating sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia

Unilever and Indonesia government-owned palm oil plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support local mills and smallholder farmers to produce palm oil according to NDPE standards. This means no deforestation, development on peat, or exploitation of people and communities.

PTPN will provide Unilever with access to its mills and smallholder farmers, who we will support to achieve sustainability certification through resources, funding and technical expertise. This will better position the smallholder farmers to enter the palm oil supply chain and enable them to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods, while helping protect people and planet.

We are involved in various partnerships to help smallholder farmers, but the MoU with PTPN is the first time we can apply the ‘produce-protect’ model at scale. It will have a positive impact in Indonesia from an environmental, social and economic perspective which makes it unique to the industry.

Calling for more action on packaging waste

Unilever is calling for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics.

A year after we made an industry-leading commitment to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, 10 companies have made similar pledges. But we need to do more.

Companies must innovate new delivery models that promote reuse. More companies must commit to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025, and set stretching targets for using post-consumer recycled content. There should be a Global Plastics Protocol that defines what materials the industry uses, to ensure they can be recycled. And companies must engage in policy discussions with governments on improvements to waste management infrastructure.

Unilever is making progress on a technical solution to recycling multi-layered sachets through CreaSolv® technology. A pilot plant in Indonesia is being built to assess its commercial viability. We intend to make this technology open source, so others – including our competitors – can use it.

CreaSolv® is a registered trademark of CreaCycle GmbH

Increasing our support for social enterprises

We are expanding our commitment – in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) – to support social enterprises through our TRANSFORM joint initiative. This will quadruple the size of the programme, from £10 million to £40 million, to support market-based solutions that meet low-income household needs in developing countries.

Through financial and business support for social enterprises and behaviour-change interventions, the aim is to help 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia gain access to products and services that are shown to improve health, livelihoods, the environment or wellbeing by 2025.

DFID and Unilever founded TRANSFORM in 2015 to bring private sector creativity and commercial approaches to solve global development challenges. To date, it has benefited over 250,000 people through 19 projects in nine countries. These include a portable handwashing station in Bangladesh and a mobile platform that encourages Kenyan shopkeepers to become change agents in their communities.

Back to top