Achieving the UN’s Global Goals: How Nestlé Plays its Part

by Chavanne Hanson
Jul 18, 2017 9:00 AM ET

As a participant of the UN High Level Political Forum this week, I’m sharing some Nestlé initiatives aligned with the SDGs but also learning about what more can be done, how we can work with others and can continue to contribute with tangible business solutions.

At Nestlé, we understand that for our company to be successful in the long term, we have to create value not only for our business, but for everyone we touch. Those include billions of people from the farmers who grow our ingredients and the families that enjoy our products to the communities where we live and work and the natural environment upon which we all depend. It is our business to deliver food and enhance the quality of life, but we want to ensure that the people we work with on that journey also benefit.

While there may be difficulties to achieve the ambitious UN agenda by 2030, many of us in the global business community are committed to doing our part to meet the goals. But we can’t do it alone. Governments will need to tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation at a national level, but they will not be achieved without meaningful action by business. We all have a role and can continue to inspire each other by sharing best practices, mobilising others to join us and work together to leverage our expertise and experiences.

Earlier this month, the company hosted an extraordinary gathering of industry and civil society experts to discuss ways that Nestlé can help shape the future of food systems which in turn can contribute to the SDGs. It was clear from the discussion that the food system needs to change. From farmer to consumer, we are all part of a network and can take meaningful actions to support the SDGs and in particular SDGs 2 (to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture) and 3 (to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages).

Nutrition, health and wellness are at the core of our business. It’s in our DNA. Our purpose is to enhance the quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. In fact, we have defined three overarching ambitions to support the 2030 Agenda through the following activities:

  • help improve 30 million livelihoods in communities directly connected to our business activities,
  • help 50 million children live healthier lives and
  • strive for zero environmental impact in our operations.

In support of SDG 2, we have some concrete initiatives to help our farmers, especially women. Through our Farmer Connect programme, we engage directly with 719,000 farmers globally to source our raw materials. For example, we are designing programmes to support these thousands of farmers, especially women and their families to improve food availability and diversity. We are training them on activities related to nutrition, promoting intercropping (growing two or more crops on one field), developing and maintaining kitchen gardens and livestock. With these tools they can better succeed as farmers and enhance their livelihood. In turn, we also benefit from the supply of high-quality agricultural materials to make the foods that provide good nutrition for our consumers. It’s a win-win situation which we call creating shared value.

Complementing our work with farmers, Nestlé is also contributing to SDG 3 by committing to helping tackle malnutrition in countries where there is a high prevalence. We believe we have a responsibility as well as a unique opportunity to improve the nutritional status of people by adding relevant micronutrients to foods and beverages they regularly consume. Ideally these important nutrients should come from a balanced varied diet but this is not always possible. So, we improve nutrition by fortifying foods and beverages such as condiments, children’s milks and cereals to provide additional nourishment including for vulnerable groups such as school-age children and expectant mothers.

These products are all effective carriers for micronutrient fortification because they are consumed widely and frequently, building on existing eating habits. Products can be fortified with one or several micronutrients and we focus our efforts on regions that face some of the greatest burden of micronutrient deficiencies such as Africa and South East Asia. Of the 207 billion servings provided in 2016, 121 billion were fortified with iron (an annual increase of 23%), 113 billion with iodine (an 8% increase), 27 billion with zinc and 42 billion with vitamin A.

I’m honoured to be participating in this week’s inspiring dialogues and activities to hear about how others are contributing to the SDGs but also to learn about what other opportunities there are for Nestlé to contribute. The 2030 ambitions are our collective responsibility. After all, health, wellness and sustainable development is important to all of us.

As we strive to meet our own 2030 ambitions, we will continue to partner with governments and civil society to leverage our collective knowledge and expertise and to find innovative ways to contribute to the 2030 Agenda.

Find out more about how Nestlé is enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future in Our Stories