Unilever allies with British Government to help developing nations

Unilever has joined forces with the Department for International Development (DFID) to create jobs, improve water and sanitation, and improve sustainable supply chains in developing countries.

The International Development Secretary Justine Greening will sign a joint letter of intent with Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman which commits both organisations to work together to help improve the lives of millions of people in developing countries and end dependency on aid.

Greening said: “This partnership, the first of its kind, will combine our expertise and networks to help millions of the world’s poorest people find jobs, improve water and sanitation and, ultimately, end dependency on aid. This is not just good for the developing world, it is good for Britain. The frontier economies we will be working to improve are ultimately Britain’s future trading partners.”

Main areas of focus:


  • Improving the job prospects and economic empowerment of women and girls. 
  • Scaling up projects currently at the pilot stage using market-based solutions, particularly in water, sanitation and hygiene. 
  • Developing supply chain ecosystems for specific crops. 

DFID and Unilever will launch a joint initiative to improve health, hygiene and livelihoods for 100 million people by 2025. Each of them will also contribute £5m to a research and innovation programme focused on affordable sanitation and safe drinking water.

Sustainable Living

Polman said: “We’re committed to changing people’s lives around the world through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. This sets ambitious and measurable targets across our entire supply chain, such as empowering women, encouraging hand-washing to fight disease, and helping a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.

“It’s only through partnerships that we can achieve real scale. By working collaboratively with our suppliers, NGOs and governments, we can make the biggest difference and go well beyond what’s possible in our own operations alone.”

This latest project is another example of Unilever putting sustainability at the heart of its business model. Last week, edie reported that the consumer goods company is to hold a ‘hackathon’ event in which it will allow its data available to be used to encourage people to live more sustainably. In May, the firm launched a new project to develop natural secure international tea supply for the future.

Lois Vallely

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie