Human Cities: A human CSR initiative from AkzoNobel

January 31, 2017 | 08:00
The role of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives has increased in importance in recent years, especially for multinational corporations. AkzoNobel – a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of speciality chemicals – has provided a prototype for this trend with the Human Cities initiative, which is being employed around the world.
human cities a human csr initiative from akzonobel
AkzoNobel volunteers beautified Vietnamese schools

Using business strengths to make people’s lives more liveable

The Human Cities initiative relies on AkzoNobel’s three key strengths – essential ingredients, essential protection, and essential colour – to energise and regenerate urban communities across the world, making them more liveable and inspiring. This initiative started in Amsterdam, the home of both AkzoNobel and the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. The Rijksmuseum is known as one of the world’s must-see museums, with one million invaluable artworks dating back to the 13th century.

Over its 100 years of existence, the museum’s exteriors and ceilings had lost their lustre. AkzoNobel provided approximately 8,000 litres of Sikken paint in a mission to take Rijksmuseum back to its heyday. Through the restoration, it recovered the look of the colour palette that architect Pierre Cuypers meticulously developed more than a century ago.

In Brazil, AkzoNobel has provided access to sport, helping thousands of poor children living in the favela communities by the riverbanks of Rio de Janeiro. To an extent, this healthy outlet has helped these children stay away from the drug cartels and violence that are common there.

Using the key strength of essential colour, the Decorative Paints business unit of Latin America transformed messy corners in the favelas into colourful, lively playgrounds for children, using thousands of litres of paint. More than 300 slums in the Santa Marta favela have also been given lively new coatings, which have shaped the appearance and environment of one of the most crime-filled areas in Brazil.

Delivering happiness across Vietnam

From 330 cities in 94 countries across the planet, Danang was the first city chosen by the Rockefeller Foundation to be on the list “100 Resilient Cities”. Based on that, a series of resilience-enhancing projects has been kicked off to help the city deal with the environmental challenges and social stresses that it faces.

In 2015, AkzoNobel donated 4,720 litres of paint to renovate Pham Hong Thai Elementary School and Huynh Ba Chanh Secondary School in Ngu Hanh Son district, as they had both been significantly damaged by the impacts of climate change. In 2016 the project evolved, and 100 storm-resilient civil buildings and four community houses in Lien Chieu and Hoa Vang districts were repainted in order to provide a more sustainable and safer life to hundreds of local citizens in monsoon season.

Throughout 2016, AkzoNobel Vietnam also delivered humanitarian help to other cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai. Within the framework of Community Day 2016, more than 300 AkzoNobel Vietnam staff from a range of business units made an effort to join in on the work, recoating and renovating selected schools and social centres right before the new school year started, which brought an increased quality of life to nearly 2,000 local students and teachers. Recently, AkzoNobel sponsored to recoat the two iconic and historical buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, that are City Hall and Fine Art Museum.

The above projects show how a community initiative can be integrated into business operation and contribute value. This gives support to the irreplaceable position of corporate social responsibility in today’s sustainable business development model.

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