The need for a decade of action

We all have a part to play in making the 2020s a decade of action and to achieve results. The UN Secretary General’s 2020 Progress Report1 stated that even if progress in many areas of health continues, the rate of improvement has slowed down. Additionally, the start of the decade has been plagued by COVID-19, and we share the concern that the pandemic threatens progress on health made in recent years. However, we believe that together, we can break health and hygiene barriers and support the empowerment of people in order to achieve an inclusive society that releases both individual and societal value.

The year 2020 marks the tenth Hygiene and Health Report and six years of collaboration between Essity, WSSCC and our other partners to raise awareness on global hygiene and health issues. The continuous learnings made now and in recent years add value and have the potential to contribute toward a decade of action to bring about positive change and achieve the SDGs. It is time to accelerate action to improve hygiene and health for all.

SDG Target 17.17 (icon )

SDG Target 17.17: Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

Action on global challenges

Globalization, digitalization, population growth, urbanization, climate change and increasing resource scarcity continue to affect us all in different ways and our attitudes toward global hygiene and health. We are faced with a less secure world based on political, social and financial instability, while at the same time, the SDGs must be met by 2030. The full humanitarian, social and financial consequences of COVID-19 remains to be seen but it has further underlined the importance of hygiene and health in our everyday lives.

Much progress has been made, for example in reducing poverty and increasing child vaccinations, but progress in hygiene and health is lagging.

There are many global challenges related to hygiene and health. In this report, we focus on issues where there is a clear need for accelerated action and we provide policy makers with concrete calls for actions after each of the two chapters Hygiene and health saves and improves lives and More inclusive societies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced this message more strongly than ever. We belong to each other. We stand together, or we fall apart.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary General²

1 United Nations: Economic and Social Council (2020) Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Report of the Secretary-General. Visit source

2 United Nations Secretary-General (2020). Secretary-General’s Nelson Mandela Lecture: “Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era” Visit source