Strategic sustainability partnership
Unilever and Solidaridad have announced a new strategic partnership to improve the lives of one million people in Unilever’s extended supply chains. The agreement was signed at Unilever’s annual Partner to Win Supplier Summit in London.
The partnership will be focused on promoting gender equity, improving agricultural and labour practices as well as supporting young agricultural entrepreneurs and land management. It will be targeted at sustainably sourcing key agricultural raw materials (tea, cocoa, sugar, palm oil, fruit and vegetables, soy and dairy) in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
This builds on Unilever’s and Solidaridad’s long track record in creating sustainable supply chains that already engage more than 150,000 smallholder farmers and workers in India, Mexico and Colombia.
As part of this new partnership agreement, both parties will share the responsibility to raise a mix of public and private grants, credit and investments to finance the smallholder farmer initiatives. Furthermore they will share the cost of three full time employees to deliver the joint programme.
Nico Roozen, executive director, Solidaridad Network, says: “We welcome this partnership on sustainable supply chains. Together with Unilever we will engage suppliers and support them to address current and future business challenges. Suppliers need access to resources and to markets. We need to change market conditions to shift sustainable production from niche to norm. Unilever and Solidaridad aim to leverage their resources with those of others to have large scale measurable impact.”
Dhaval Buch, chief procurement officer, says: “This partnership helps drive real change across our value chain. We are branching into new areas, which is why it is so important to have the experience and knowledge of an NGO like Solidaridad. This programme will also analyse and address gender issues in each project as well as providing access to training on agriculture, finance, health and hygiene and nutrition. These are all contributors to our company wide commitment to enhance livelihoods across our value chain.”
The partnership is also an example of how Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy will be brought to life. The policy, published earlier this year, stems directly from Unilever’s ambition to increase its positive social impact. The policy breaks new ground by defining a ‘continuous improvement ladder’ to help suppliers move from a base level of “do no harm” to “good practice” and ultimately up to “best practice”. It also now has new areas of coverage such as women’s rights, land rights and enhanced grievance mechanisms.