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Three global focus areas chosen

An experienced advisory board picked the big challenges they thought the H&M Foundation should take on, but the final choice was up to the public.

Woman with a bucket of water

When the Stefan Persson family became the main donors to the H&M Foundation in 2013, we consulted seven experts – selected for their commitment to various development issues throughout the world – about which of the UN Millennium Development Goals we should focus our work on. When the advisory board had chosen five goals – Clean Water, Strengthening Women, Quality Education for all Children, Safeguarding Natural Resources, and Reduction of Poverty through Self-Empowerment – the public made the final choice.

Over the course of one week in October 2013, 120,000 people voted online. The three focus areas that were finally chosen for the H&M Foundation were:

  • Clean Water
  • Education
  • Strengthening Women
  • Saving Natural Resources (added in 2015)

Saving natural resources came in fourth place and in 2015, Planet was added as a fourth focus area.

“The H&M Foundation has long supported initiatives to make breakthroughs on these challenges, which are among the most important opportunities for this and future generations.”

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, part of the advisory board

Creating partnerships

Now, the H&M Foundation will partner with three world-renowned organisations to globally address these three issues and promote many important initiatives in countries where H&M operates. These partnerships are expected to be in place at the beginning of next year. Additionally, the H&M Foundation will initiate local programs with other organizations related to the three selected issues in countries where H&M operates.


Voting: Everyone was able to vote at between 22-29 October, 2013.

Five topics: H&M employees and customers could vote for one of these five topics: Clean water, strengthening women, safeguarding natural resources, education and reduction of poverty through self-empowerment.

The experts that were consulted about which global challenges they find most immediate are:

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Laureate and Honorary Elder
  • Prof Jeffrey D. Sachs – Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals
  • Ela Bhatt – Founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Founder Chair of the Cooperative Bank of SEWA and member of The Elders
  • Sir Richard Branson – Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group
  • Prof Johan Rockström – Professor in Environmental Science at Stockholm University and Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • Alek Wek – Supermodel and member of the US Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council
  • José María Figueres Olsen – Minister of State and elected President of Costa Rica (1994-1998) and President of Carbon War Room.

Funding: Thanks to the Stefan Persson family’s substantial donation of SEK 500 million in 2013, it is possible for the H&M Foundation to make real impact for people and communities.