Unilever calls for a hygiene indicator in global sustainable development goals

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever calls for a hygiene indicator in global sustainable development goals

Related tags United nations Sustainable development

Unilever CEO Paul Polman recently announced his support for a hygiene indicator to be added into the list of global goals which are set to shape the sustainability agenda for the next 15 years.

There are currently 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which seek to stimulate action globally up until 2030 in areas of ‘critical importance for humanity and the planet’, with special focus on ending poverty and promoting education and healthy lives.

Speaking at a recent panel discussion which accompanied the launch of the SDGs in New York, Polman made the recommendation of adding a minimum hygiene standard, which can be achieved particularly via handwashing with soap.

“A hygiene indicator will have a huge impact on our ability to achieve our health and development goals​,” Polman stated.

Hygiene: a helping hand

Polman’s recommendation is, he said, based on the fact that meeting minimum hygiene levels can play a key part in reducing newborn and child mortality.

Making his recommendation, Polman, a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel, said, “It is our duty to help protect the lives of the most vulnerable in society: our children. The simple act of handwashing with soap is essential to helping children to survive and thrive.

But it’s an area which has too often been overlooked. No business, government or UN agency can reduce child mortality alone, but by working together we can combine our expertise and resources to create real change.​”

Global goals

The SDGs, as inter-governmentally agreed targets, will inform how countries agree on funding and targets for sustainable development, and seek to improve the global quality of life.

Recognizing that the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. And we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first​,” the SDGs declaration affirms.

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