Unilever recently launched their ‘brightFuture’ campaign, intended to engage people from all walks of life to ensure that:
- Everyone has enough food to eat and no child goes to bed hungry
- Children reach their fifth birthday and have the right to a happy childhood
- Every home has enough clean water to drink, cook with, clean and wash
- Everybody can enjoy life today while protecting the planet for future generations
In partnership with government and NGOs, Unilever and other large corporates have the opportunity to eradicate poverty and deal with the issue of climate change. In order to tackle climate change and ensure global growth, future leaders must be engaged and encouraged to heed the call and take climate action now.
“There has never been a better moment than the present to protect the planet for future generations,” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, speaking at the Unilever’s ‘brightFuture’ Gala Dinner in Johannesburg. In his call to action directed at business, government and NGOs, he continued by saying: “Now is the time to join hands as a global community to work together towards finding and committing to solutions for climate change.”
Trade trees for hampers
NGO Wildlands has developed a unique model which involves the trade of indigenous trees for hampers that are made up of a prescribed list of Unilever’s health and well-being products, such as Sunlight, Lifebuoy, Domestos, Rajah, together with a few products purchased through its partnership with MassCash, providing tinned fish and baked beans.
According to Nakagawa Marcos, Vice President Brand Building, “Unilever aims to create sustainable societies, and through our partnership with Wildlands, communities are empowered and given a purpose.”
Wildlands aims to pack and distribute 10 000 hampers across their communities over the course of 2015. The premise of the system is to change the perception of getting a ‘hand-out’, and show these communities how they can better their lives through entrepreneurial ventures. Said Wildlands’ CEO, Dr Andrew Venter, “We promote entrepreneurship with our barter–reward model, based on national greening activities. When partners like Unilever come forward with items that can add value to the lives of our hard working Tree-preneurs, we are extremely appreciative and grateful.”
Peter Cowan, Chairman of Unilever South Africa made it known that with the collective power of people, input by government and interest by all companies, big and small, the human race can undo the damage it has caused on the planet. “Roads in India are actually melting as we feel the brunt of global warming. Gone are the days where global warming was a future notion; an issue for the next generation to handle. It is our time to act now or there may not even be an earth, a planet to sustain our progeny. The time to act is now,” he reiterated.
Mr Polman emphasised Unilever’s commitment to sustainable business practice. “We don’t just create campaigns for the sake of looking good and ticking CSI boxes. At the core of our business we strive to decouple the company’s growth from its environmental footprint and increase positive social impact. We aim to help more than a billion people by improving their health and well-being as well as enhancing their livelihoods by 2020,” he added.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies said the Green Economy had been identified as a key focus area in the Industrial Policy Action Plan and it provided significant opportunities for job creation and economic growth.
He added that in the Climatescope 2014 report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, South Africa was ranked third, after China and Brazil, for investment in clean energy, accounting for more than 90% of these investments in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Also, in 2013, South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP) won the Green Infrastructure project of the Year at the 6th Global Infrastructure Leadership Conference in New York. Over the REIPPP’s first three bid windows, the renewable energy sector has committed investments totaling R120 billion, of which R23 billion was committed to local content,” said Minister Davies.
He said the South African government was extremely pleased that the investments made by Unilever were advancing “Green Technology” and that their plants serve as a model for future Unilever global operations. Mr Polman concluded: “Unilever cannot solve the world’s climate problems alone. Worldwide in every country, every citizen, company, government and NGO has a role to play. Together we can make significant strides in ensuring a better future for the leaders of tomorrow.”