Driving Behaviour Change is Critical

Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?

HUL is committed to operate and grow its business in a socially responsible way. Our vision is to grow our business whilst reducing the environmental impact and increasing our positive social impact. We have embraced Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) which is our blueprint for sustainable growth. The USLP has three global goals for Unilever:

– help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing,
– halve the environmental footprint of our products and
– enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.

Additionally, considering India is a water scarce region and that the water availability is expected to go down further, we have identified water conservation as a key area of intervention. In 2010, we set up Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) to help build capacities for water conservation. HUF along with its partners has initiated projects covering more than 4000 villages in 13 states across the country. On a cumulative basis, water conservation potential of nearly 100 billion litres has been created till date and by 2020, we expect to create water potential of 500 billion litres in a cumulative and collective way.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year, and how has your company overcome them?

The entire business operations of the company should be carried out in a responsible way. We believe that the operations of the company across its value chain from sourcing to consumer use should be sustainable. A sustainable business model is the only viable model of driving growth for companies in the long term.

Our sustainability initiatives span across the value chain of our business. We have seen good progress in our direct operations such as manufacturing. Driving sustainability outside of our direct operations continues to be a challenge given the complexity and scale. This is the reason we have a partnership approach for delivering viable solutions. We have made good progress as a result of this, e.g. sourcing agricultural raw materials sustainably. However, the challenge remains at the consumer end, where driving behaviour change is critical. Unilever has developed innovative behaviour change models e.g. in the area of health and hygiene.

The challenges that the world faces today cannot be tackled by any one entity alone. Therefore, we have always believed in working together through multi-stakeholder partnerships with governments, civil society, academia, peer group companies and citizens. Such partnerships harness the unique capabilities and expertise of each of the partners involved and help to deliver progress at scale. Thus, we truly believe that partnerships are the way forward.

What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?

USLP has clearly defined goals and targets to which all our sustainability initiatives contribute. Having said that, we do have certain priority areas which we are focussing on in 2016.

Firstly, we will work towards increasing water conservation potential further through multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Secondly, we will continue to accelerate and scale up our programmes to help address the challenges that our country faces in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Finally, we will strengthen our efforts to enhance the livelihoods of small holder farmers and Shakti entrepreneurs.

In conversation with Mr. Prasad Pradhan, Head Sustainable Business and Communications at Hindustan Unilever Limited. (Original Post)