Foreword: Collaboration for positive change

In this report, Essity and WSSCC partner to put global hygiene and health issues in the spotlight. The unprecedented pandemic has indeed underlined the importance of hygiene and health in our lives. How is this reflected in this report?

Magnus: We are highlighting two themes in this report – how hygiene and health can save and improve lives and how all of us collectively can contribute to more inclusive societies. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that millions of women, men and children face obstacles in their daily lives due to basic hygiene and health-related constraints. The right actions can improve hygiene and health conditions globally and benefit both individuals and society.

Sue: The COVID-19 pandemic is also a wake-up call to re-focus on what is essential for preventive health. The pandemic has underlined the importance of the fundamental practices learned since childhood, such as handwashing with soap, in promoting basic hygiene to combat infections all around the world. It is also times like these where we appreciate well-resourced and competent health services and count on them to save lives.

Magnus: The time for prioritizing and investing in hygiene and health is certainly now. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us and the full humanitarian, economic and social consequences are obviously to be seen. One thing is for sure: improved hygiene and health standards as well as awareness and education will be more important than ever.

Magnus Groth, President and CEO, Essity (portrait)

Magnus Groth
President and CEO Essity

Sue Coates, Executive Director, WSSCC (portrait)

Sue Coates
Executive Director a.i. WSSCC

Essity and the WSSCC have partnered since 2014 and both have been working on global hygiene and health issues for decades. What is the added value of collaborating and what role do the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play?

Sue: The SDGs provide an opportunity to accelerate progress on some of the world’s most critical issues: poverty, education, health, sanitation and hygiene, gender equality, etc. We know that many of these issues are cross-cutting, and that addressing them in silos hasn’t worked in the past. The SDGs are a call to action to stakeholders from all backgrounds: governments, UN, civil society, academia, private sector to work together to collectively implement solutions that benefit society and our planet. We continue to work with Essity to suggest actions, provide evidence and amplify messages, especially in the dialogue with key decision-makers.

Magnus: The SDGs create a structure for driving actions and partnerships, which are critical to success. As a UN-hosted entity, the WSSCC supports programs on the ground and collaborate broadly across sectors to accelerate progress on sanitation and hygiene at national, regional and global levels.

Sue: Essity brings power of innovation as well as customer and market knowledge for hygiene and health solutions. They are an ethical international business leader with a person-centered approach to research and development. With their network of professionals around the world they are able to reach audiences and question social norms. It is essential for large-scale progress on these issues, and we feel that our complementarity as partners strengthens our work.

What needs to be done and who should act?

Sue: The basic requirements to achieve good hygiene and health conditions are universal and the actions must be at all levels: individual, community, national, regional and global. We now need to work together to ensure policies that continuously drive an inclusive public health approach that focuses on prevention. Concrete preventive actions need to be planned for, prioritized, financed and implemented everywhere for the benefit of everyone.

Magnus: There is a renewed opportunity to prioritize hygiene and health for all, and the suggested calls to action for policy makers are outlined in this report. We continue to advance knowledge and facilitate solutions in order to support more inclusive societies and break barriers to health and well-being. We invite you to take part in this important mission.

Little girl with soapy hands (photo)

Essity in brief

Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company dedicated to improving well-being through its products and services. The company has sales in approximately 150 countries and employs about 46,000 people. Essity breaks barriers to well-being and contributes to a healthy, sustainable and circular society. Essity is committed to contribute to the UN SDGs and have specifically focused on the SDGs were its business and operation can contribute such as SDG 3, 5, 6, 12, 13 and 15.

WSSCC in brief

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is a global United Nations-hosted multi-stakeholder membership and partnership organization. It works with poor people, organizations, governments and local entrepreneurs to improve sanitation and hygiene at scale and is dedicated to advancing Sustainable Development Goal 6 and specifically Target 6.2 on sanitation and hygiene.

WSSCC advocates for improved sanitation and hygiene, paying special attention to the needs of women, girls and people in vulnerable situations. In 2021, the WSSCC will transform into the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF).