Purpose-Driven Brands: IKEA Backs UN on Refugees and Climate Change


IKEA purpose climate change better future

Reminding people what matters this holiday season is giving, IKEA is highlighting its work with the United Nations  on two fronts: supporting the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN’s upcoming COP21 summit on climate change.

Without presenting them as holiday campaigns per se, IKEA is gently reminding people that it’s a global brand with a global purpose. Consider its dual messages today—an update on how it’s dealing with the world’s refugee crisis and extending its partnership to help support the UNHRC and, as the UN’s COP21 global climate change summit gets ready to kick off on Nov. 30 in Paris, the red-hot issue of climate change.

Since 2014 the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees (BLFR) campaign has raised funds and awareness for the plight of displaced people as well as leveraged its DIY expertise by backing flat pack housing for refugees. Now, in a campaign running from November 29 through December 19 ,every LED product sold in-store or online at IKEA stores worldwide will generated a $1 donation by the retailer to help UNHCR.

As IKEA puts it in a new video that also supports its soft toys “good cause” holiday campaign, “Every year, millions of children and their families are forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict or natural disaster. With your help, families forced to flee their homes can have a brighter life.”

There are 19.5 million refugees worldwide today and half of them are children. The funds raised by IKEA help provide light and energy from renewable sources to refugee camp families in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Since its campaign began, BLFR has improved the lives of 380,000 refugees in Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia, and Jordan

“With the millions of people worldwide who are forcibly displaced today, the global context for our work is more challenging than ever,” stated UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.  “Finding innovative ways to help refugees is enormously important. The clean energy we’re able to provide with the support from the IKEA Foundation is both a practical solution to an essential need and transforms the quality of life for many.”

The IKEA Foundation is UNHCR’s largest private sector partner. “Sadly, the escalating refugee crisis caused by protracted conflict situations around the world does not seem likely to calm down any time soon, and lesser-known factors such as climate change-induced natural disasters could force even more people to flee for a safe place to call home,” stated IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes.


One challenge: Creating a safe place to call home is a concept in peril as the planet’s energy and climate crises escalate, which is why IKEA also strives to be a leader when it comes to taking care of our collective home, Planet Earth.

In a new trio of videos IKEA lays out the business case for taking action on climate change, as presented by IKEA Group chief sustainability officer Steve Howard. As he puts it in the third video below that focuses on solutions, “We’ve only just started.”

IKEA has pledged to take action on climate change because “People want their leaders to lead,” as IKEA CEO Peter Agnefjall has stated. As Heggenes added, “Tackling climate change is critical to achieving this goal. We’re working toward a world where children living in poverty have more opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their families.”

Proving their commitment to green living, the world’s largest furniture retailer announced it will allocate 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) toward renewable energy and ways to help poor nations deal with climate change. Further highlighting its sustainability commitment ahead of the Paris climate change talks, IKEA France is articulating its commitment to the circular economy in keeping with brands such as Nike, GM, 3M, Dow, P&G and Starbucks.

Additionally, the IKEA Group will invest 600 million euros in wind and solar power on top of the 1.5 billion euros already invested since 2009. Additionally, the IKEA Foundation is investing 400 million euros in supporting families and communities in nations vulnerable to floods, droughts and desertification.

The world’s biggest home furnishings outfitter wields substantial power as an influencer and donor, not only for its scope—with 368 IKEA stores in 28 countries—but for its reach, with an estimated 1.9 billion visitors in its fiscal 2015 year.

As its latest communications around climate change and refugees shows, it has an unprecedented platform and opportunity to help define, inspire and nurture home on a global scale and on a local scale, particularly for those who aren’t even sure where their next meal and sleeping quarters may be.