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Published on: March 30, 2022, 12:09 p.m.
Business as a force for good
  • Creating an enabling environment for the best health outcomes

By Suresh Narayanan. The author is Chairman and Managing Director, Nestlé India

Food is a source of pleasure and nutrition, and good food is vital for a good life. Health and well-being of people is central to sustainable development, culminating in economic prosperity of individuals, families, communities, and the society. Businesses too have the propensity to play a significant role in shaping a sustainable future that has a positive impact on the planet and the people.

Corporates are not only expected to take the lead in delivering on SDGs but incorporating them as a guiding compass that can accelerate social impact. SDGs are a way to create shared value for all stakeholders and a commitment to humanistic social values and common good.

Sustainable development: The health of a company is intrinsically linked to the health and resilience of the society it operates in. Therefore, it is important that businesses adopt a holistic approach focusing on the well-being of consumers, customers, communities, and citizens. At Nestlé India, we take this seriously and sustainable development remains at the heart of our business.

In line with the SDG-3 that focuses on good health and well-being, we are committed to improving the health of individuals and families throughout peoples’ lives. SDG-3 is brought to life at Nestlé India by constantly improving the nutritional profile of our products and by offering consumers clear nutrition information and portion guidance so that they can make informed food choices based on facts. Recognising fortification as an effective strategy to combat malnutrition, we have dialled up the nutrient profile of our mass consumption products with micronutrients to make nutrition more widely accessible. 

We have taken several societal initiatives that focus on good health and well-being. Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme has been developed to raise nutrition, health, and awareness about active lifestyle among adolescents, by arming them with the knowledge that impacts them in a meaningful way. The programme is implemented in partnership with seven regional universities and Magic Bus India Foundation. Launched in 2009, the programme has expanded significantly. Till date, over 397,000 adolescents across 23 states have been encouraged to live healthier lives through this programme.

Our Project Jagriti encourages good nutrition and feeding practices, improving health at key life stages. It creates an enabling environment for the best health outcomes, involving the healthcare system and stakeholders from the community. Till 2020, the programme has reached out to 6.5 million beneficiaries across 8 States/Union Territories. 

Strengthening our commitment towards building a healthier society and positively impacting the lives of people in marginalised communities, we launched ‘Vriddhi’, an initiative towards village adoption. The project focuses on improving access to clean drinking water for communities, promoting water-saving irrigation practices, increasing awareness on nutrition, enhancing farm productivity, and providing healthy learning environment in schools by improving hygiene and sanitation practices.

Corporate compassion: Extraordinary times require extraordinary responses. As part of our Covid relief activities, we contributed through feeding programmes comprising cooked meals and provision of ration kits. These were provided to migrant workers, waste professionals, street vendors, and Mumbai Dabawallas. We also contributed towards PPEs, medical equipment, and ventilators. We also set up oxygen plants across 5 locations as part of our Covid relief efforts.

A future better together: As we forge ahead towards a sustainable future, there is immense work that still needs to be done. This can be achieved through collective action, meaningful partnerships, and a common goal. It is important that we catalyze support, the private sector, multilateral organisations, governments, NGOs, and academia stay committed and collaborate to pursue opportunities to solve global challenges.

We must summon our spirit of ‘Purpose’. We must harness new ideas and make SDGs a business imperative. Companies should anchor sustainability goals within different functions of their business, moving at both speed and scale and taking bold and transformative steps. It is important to create a monitoring framework and regularly assess the progress of the goals and its impact on environment and community. 

Youth across the globe value companies that are committed to the society, community, and planet. Employees take pride in being associated with organisations that have a strong sense of corporate responsibility and consumers seek products that are sustainable and good for the community and society. As we stride ahead, we must foster cooperation to carve a better and healthier future together, leaving no one behind. The corporate sector must lead with compassion and empathy, create an impact, have a legacy for the generations to act upon for the future. 

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