People & communities

a group of female textile workers

Putting people first

We want to create a better life for people. That includes people and communities all over the world.


Portrait of Leila Pakkala from UNICEF

As IKEA co-workers and customers support Soft Toys for Education this holiday season, they can be sure they are contributing to making a lasting difference in the lives of children and their families. UNICEF would like to thank all IKEA customers and staff members around the world for their support.”

Leila Pakkala, Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships, UNICEF
Source: Save the Children press release
Photo: © UNICEF/NYHQ10 -1985/Markisz

8 million children

40 countries
A group portrait of some of IKEA's soft toys

47.5 million euros donated

Building a bright future $1 at a time

Soft Toys for Education is a global campaign that runs for around two months at the end of each year. It’s a collaborative effort between IKEA and the IKEA Foundation to raise money and awareness of how childhood education can break the cycle of poverty. And it’s all made possible by IKEA customers: for every soft toy or children’s book they buy at IKEA during the campaign, the IKEA Foundation donates 1 Euro (approximately $1.31).
Portait of Elisabeth Dahlin from Save the Children, Sweden

"The support of the IKEA Foundation has allowed Save the Children to help some of the most vulnerable and excluded children who would otherwise miss out on an education. Thank you.”

Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General, Save the Children, Sweden
Photo credits: Johan Jeppson

$1 is all it takes to provide five children in the developing world with books and pencils.

Some of the children we met on a recent trip to Madagascar

Project in focus:

UNICEF are using the money from last year’s Soft Toys for Education in their Schools for Africa program, working in seven countries on the continent including Madagascar. A number of issues, ranging from insufficient number of schools and resources through to the recent political unrest, contribute to high drop out rates. Currently, the average Malagasy adult has only completed 4.4 years of school and only 60% of children who start school complete the full primary cycle.

UNICEF is working to provide schools in communities where none exist nearby, and to help existing schools to offer the complete cycle of primary education.

Co-workers from IKEA and IKEA Foundation recently joined UNICEF on an IWitness visit to some of the schools and villages in Madagascar to see first hand how Soft Toys for Education makes a difference.

Find out more at the IWitness blog

100 million…the estimated number of children to benefit from programs currently funded by the IKEA Foundation.

Want to know more?

Save the Children

The IKEA Foundation


Kids in school in India thanks to IKEA Foundation and UNICEF.
IKEA Foundation and UNICEF mark 10 years helping the children of India

Ten years ago the IKEA Foundation began funding UNICEF projects in India. By the end of 2012 more than 74 million children will have been reached with programs that promote education, fight child labor and protect the rights of the child.

“IKEA believes children are the most important people in the world, so it was natural for us to partner with UNICEF.”

Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation
Anas Mohammed goes to school thanks to IKEA Foundation and UNICEF.
“Please promise us that you will let your children study.”

A plea from 11-year-old Anas Mohammed to the adults of his community.

Anas used to work in a metalware factory to help support his family. Now, thanks to IKEA Foundation funded UNICEF programmes, Anas goes to school and proudly promotes education in his community.

Find out more about Anas

UNICEF logo and IKEA Foundation logo

As part of a relationship that’s lasted 20 years (and counting), the IKEA foundation has funded UNICEF projects in India for a decade. You can read the stories of a few of the millions of children whose lives have been transformed by these projects at IKEA Foundation. Or, find out more at UNICEF.

By the end of 2012, the IKEA Foundation will have helped more than 74 million children by donating €108 million to UNICEF in India.


a group of IKEA co-workers in a store

A business is only as good as the people
it hires

As IKEA co-workers and customers support Soft Toys for Education this holiday season, they can be sure they are contributing to making a lasting difference in the lives of children and their families. UNICEF would like to thank all IKEA customers and staff members around the world for their support.”


“I want to become a lawyer because I want to work with justice.”

IKEA Foundation's annual soft toy campaign funds programs that send children to school

boy playing with IKEA soft toys

Building a bright future $1 at a time

IKEA customers contribute to a better future for children around the world through the annual soft toys campaign.

small IKEA soft toy teddy bear

During the holiday season at the end of each year, one euro (approximately $1.31) for every soft toy sold in IKEA stores worldwide is donated by the IKEA Foundation. The money is split between Save the Children and UNICEF projects aimed at improving education for children in Africa, Asia and Central and
Eastern Europe.

Since it started in 2003, the campaign has generated 47.5 million euro in donations to help over eight million children have a quality education in almost 40 countries. In 2011 alone, it raised 12.4 million euro.

Some of our co-workers have been able to visit projects that the campaign funds. You can read their stories here.

To learn more visit the IKEA Foundation website:

IKEA Foundation

$1 is all it takes to provide five children in the developing world with books and pencils.



IKEA employee meeting with suppliers

Together we can make a much bigger difference!

By cooperating with companies, trade unions, non-profit organizations and communities, we can do much more to contribute to a better everyday life than we could ever do on our own.

happy girl raising her hands

This is why we partner with a number of different organizations on a global, national and local level.

Our global charitable commitments are managed by the IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IKEA. It works with strong partners such as the UN global development network (UNDP), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UNICEF and Save the Children to improve the lives of children and youth. On the environmental side, IKEA works at a global level with WWF on projects to promote more sustainable cotton and forestry, and to reduce carbon emissions.

Nationally and locally, social partnerships focus on children, the homeless, and victims of emergencies and
natural disasters.

When it comes to the environment, the focus is on the protection of natural resources, minimizing waste, helping to address climate change, and education and training in these areas.
happy children with backpacks in school

Working together for the most important people in the world

At IKEA, we see children as the most important people in the world. We believe all children have the right to a healthy, secure childhood and access to quality education, no matter where in the world they live.

We stepped up our actions to protect children in the mid-1990s when we became aware of the risks relating to child labor in the supply chain. It was the starting point of a journey where we learned and exchanged experiences with experts like the International Labor Organization (ILO), Save the Children and UNICEF.

We now have a long history of working successfully with UNICEF and Save the Children to improve the lives of children and their families. And today, the IKEA Foundation supports programs run by a number of well-regarded organizations to help children and youth in the developing world to create a better future for themselves and their families. Currently funded programs are expected to benefit 100 million children by the end of 2015.

IKEA supports the 10 Children’s Rights and Business Principles launched in 2012. This joint effort between UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children is a call on businesses to step up their efforts to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles encourage and inspire us. They build on our belief that our actions should always have the best interests of the child in mind, and will help us meet our responsibility to respect and support children’s rights.

Want to know more?
children waiting for vaccination

Lending a helping hand in times of need

We try to help when disaster strikes. The IKEA Foundation, or IKEA locally, may donate IKEA products like blankets, cooking utensils and comforting soft toys to support humanitarian relief efforts, or provide financial support.

To learn more, visit the IKEA Foundation website:

IKEA-supported cotton projects reach around 100,000 farmers in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey.

farmer standing in better cotton field

Working with WWF to improve cotton farmers’ lives

IKEA and WWF – one of the world’s largest and most experienced conservation organizations – have worked successfully together on forest issues for a decade.

In 2005, we partnered to make cotton cultivation more sustainable by collaborating with farmers in India and Pakistan, two of our main cotton sourcing countries.

It started with Farmer Field Schools for 450 farmers who received hands-on training in the field on how to reduce the use of chemicals and water. Today, IKEA cooperates with WWF as well as other local partners to reach even more farmers. As a result, an estimated 100,000 farmers in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey have started growing cotton in a more sustainable way, moving away from farming practices that pose a threat to both people and the environment.

By using less chemical fertilizers and more natural alternatives to chemical pesticides, small-hold farmers can cut their costs while crops remain as good as before. The money they save might be used to invest in water-saving drip irrigation or perhaps in education for their children.

We sat down with to talk with Tapu Kehar Rangapara at his small cotton farm in Gujarat in India two years after he started introducing more sustainable practices:

“My yield is 10 percent better than that of my neighbors since I started fertilizing exclusively with manure and compost. I have more money because I don’t buy chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And our health has improved a lot since we replaced chemical pesticides with plant extracts. Before, I always felt exhausted. I had a bad skin rash, and my wife and I both had constant headaches. The situation just kept getting worse because the pests became more and more resistant to the chemicals so we’d spray even more. Now life is much better. We are healthy.”

Stories like this have spread like ripples on water, inspiring more and more farmers to join our cotton projects.

Read more about our partnership with WWF
asian woman crouching between rows of plants

Sow a Seed brings the
rainforest back to life

The Sow a Seed project is helping to restore 45,700 acres of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo that had been damaged by logging and further affected by fire in 1983. The aim is to restore the rainforest by planting a diverse range of indigenous tree species while also supporting the local community.

Since the start in 1998, well over half of the area has been replanted. The project has contributed to the building of homes, community centers and field accommodations for local workers and their families, as well as research facilities so that scientists and researchers can study the rainforest’s biodiversity
and ecosystem.

The Sow a Seed foundation is a partnership between IKEA, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Yayasan Sabah Group and the Malaysian forestry company RbJ.

An estimated 100 million children benefit from programs currently funded by the IKEA Foundation.



the facade of an IKEA store

How we’re helping make a difference right here

While we work on a global level to improve the lives of people in places like India and Pakistan, we also want to be a good neighbor in our local communities. Here's how we're reaching out closer to home.

girl painting a picture

Early Steps to School Success; A Save the Children and IKEA Partnership Program

At IKEA, children are the most important people in the world, so it’s natural that IKEA places great emphasis on supporting children’s rights and education programs. Partnering with like-minded organizations such as Save the Children further supports IKEA’s dedication. One particular US program that IKEA has aligned with is Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success (ESSS); an early reading readiness program that IKEA supports through financial and in-kind product donations.

ESSS is designed to assist children with language, social and emotional development to equip parents with the skills and knowledge to successfully support their children’s growth, and to develop strong home-school connections. In one recent project, IKEA supported the ESSS program with a redesign at the Pleasant View Elementary School in Pleasant View, CA. Specifically, the focus was on an Early Childhood Development classroom, a place that serves as the base for Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success Program.

Save the Children is dedicated to lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children works directly with communities in the US and globally to support children in need with a focus on literacy, nutrition, education and physical activity programs. In emergency and crisis, this organization works for and with children at risk of hunger and malnutrition, and those affected by natural disaster, war and conflict.
forestry photo

IKEA Celebrates Planting 1.9 Million Trees Across America

The message is plain and simple. Improve your Life. Plant a Tree. Why? Because planting trees will help to clean the air and cool the globe. Since 1998, IKEA US, in partnership with American Forests, has been dedicated to improving the lives of the many people through its national in-store ‘Plant A Tree’ program, a campaign that asks customers to donate $1 to plant one tree. These contributions, together with money donated by IKEA, have resulted in the raising of almost $2 million dollars to plant almost 2 million trees across America. On October 1, 2011, IKEA stores across the US, thanked their customers for their great participation and support for climate change by giving away free tree seedlings at each IKEA store location.
Life Improvement Project logo

The Life Improvement Project

The Life Improvement Project is an initiative designed by IKEA US to educate, inspire and empower people to improve their lives at home, as well as the lives of others in their community.

In 2010, IKEA US launched the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest as part of the company’s Life Improvement Project. The grand prize winner of that first IKEA contest was Kyria Henry of Round Hill, VA. After a month-long, online public vote, Ms. Henry had won a year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000) to improve the lives of others through her paws4vets program. Additionally, IKEA donated $46,844 to Save the Children’s U.S. Programs, $1 for every vote cast in the contest.

Understanding that people have a desire to be a positive force within their community, IKEA kicked off this unique contest in the fall of 2010 to give one deserving winner the opportunity to pursue their passion of helping others. The contest had nearly 2,000 entrants and more than 46,000 votes were cast by the public for the five deserving finalists, including the winning entry, Ms. Henry’s paws4vets program (, which trains and pairs service dogs with veterans needing assistance.

In addition to the external Life Improvement Project Contest, IKEA also ran an internal Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge to provide $10,000 to 4 IKEA store locations to support community projects suggested by teams of IKEA co-workers across the country. This challenge gives IKEA co-workers the opportunity to win additional funding and support for a local charitable organization/cause of their choice.

The Life Improvement Project continues in 2011. While there will continue to be a national program for one US winner with a $100,000 donation to their charity, IKEA will also give $10,000 to each of the 38 IKEA US stores to support a worthy community program. IKEA is the Life Improvement Store with a vision and mission of creating a better everyday life for the many people. Information on the program is available on
Charging stations

Most IKEA Stores in West Now Hosting Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

IKEA now has electric vehicle charging stations operational at seven stores in the Western U.S., at the locations in Renton, WA; Portland, OR; Emeryville, CA; Covina, CA; Carson, CA; Costa Mesa, CA; and San Diego, CA. Units also are being installed at the IKEA stores in East Palo Alto, CA and Tempe, AZ. This program involving a combined total of 33 charging stations represents a partnership between IKEA and ECOtality, a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies.

ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project, a public-private partnership funded in part by a federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the deployment of EVs. ECOtality is overseeing the installation of approximately 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 18 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia. IKEA stores are in four of those states.

In order to use the charging stations, EV drivers only need to pull into a designated parking spot, swipe their Blink InCard (RFID card), plug the charger into the EV, and then shop and eat at their leisure in the IKEA store while the vehicle is charging. Drivers can get a Blink InCard at
light bulb

IKEA Pulls the Plug on Incandescent Light Bulbs

Switch On. Switch Off. Switch Over. In January, 2011, IKEA made a change for a brighter, more energy efficient future by stopping the sale of all incandescent light bulbs in all US IKEA stores. This placed the focus on selling a comprehensive range of energy saving bulbs including CFLs plus LED and Halogen lamps.

Committed to helping IKEA customers live an everyday sustainable life at home, IKEA is the first major retailer to stop the sale of incandescent light bulbs. And this was done in advance of The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; a legislation that will phase out most incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014.

Did You Know?
IKEA offers lighting solutions that are more efficient and have less negative impact on the environment.
• CFLs last from 6-10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs (6000 - 10,000 vs. 1,000 hours) and use 80% less energy. Due to this lower energy use, they can save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime. ( **
• If every American household replaced 1 incandescent bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for 1 year. (
• According to, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL, we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than two million cars. And families would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs. The average American family spends $1,900 on energy bills each year. (
• Lighting expenses account for almost 25% of electricity costs of customers’ homes.
( Halogen bulbs use 30% less energy and last 2-4 times longer than conventional bulbs. (IKEA Group). IKEA LED lights use 70% less energy and burn at least 20 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb. (IKEA Group)
solar panels

IKEA Continues to Grow U.S. Solar Presence, with Plans Already for 75% of Locations

As part of its global initiative for locations to shift towards renewable energy, IKEA has been evaluating all stores, distribution centers and offices for their potential to harness solar power. The result of this effort is the installation of thirteen solar energy systems now operational with twenty more projects underway. These locations represents 75% of the U.S presence of IKEA and are geographically dispersed too – with 12 in the west, 10 in the south, and 11 in the east – demonstrating that successful programs are not limited to just one region of the country.

This investment by IKEA reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability, confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology, and plan to reduce its US carbon footprint. IKEA will own and operate each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement). These energy systems will produce more than 20 MW of electricity, and is the equivalent of, the equivalent of reducing tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of thousands cars, or powering hundreds of homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at Additionally, in most instances, the projects contribute to the local utilities’ renewable portfolio goals and lower the carbon intensity of the electrical grid. Since this is an ongoing initiative, IKEA is still evaluating other U.S. locations for potential too.


female co-workers at an IKEA suppliers

Building stronger relationships with our suppliers

IKEA relies on good, long-term relationships with suppliers
who share our values and take responsibility,
so that our products can be produced with respect for people and the environment.

co-workers having a coffee on a sofa at a suppliers

We want to motivate and support our suppliers’ continuous efforts to improve. IKEA co-workers are often in the factories and work with suppliers, using our guiding principles. They include:

  • What is in the best interest of the worker?
  • What is in the best interest of the environment?
front page of the IKEA IWAY document

A way-better way to do business

Our supplier code of conduct, IWAY, plays an important role in positive developments. Since it was first introduced in 2000, it has contributed to many large and small improvements in our supply chain. Many suppliers have also experienced that investments in working conditions and the environment often lead to more orders, better productivity and improved profitability – and in turn, improved competitiveness.

One part of the code of conduct, the IWAY Standard, specifies our minimum requirements relating to the environment, social impact and working conditions. Requirements include:
  • No child labor, no forced or bonded labor
  • No discrimination
  • Freedom of association
  • At least minimum wages and compensation for overtime
  • A safe and healthy work environment
  • Prevent pollution to air, ground and water
  • Work to reduce energy consumption

Around 80 IKEA auditors as well as independent third party auditors monitor compliance with our requirements. They make both announced and unannounced checks at suppliers and their sub-suppliers.

Want to read more?

Around 1,000 audits are performed at IKEA suppliers each year. Approximately three quarters of these are unannounced.

Protecting child rights in the supply chain

We believe that children have the right to be protected from exploitation, abuse and neglect. This is why child labor is unacceptable to IKEA and why we work actively to prevent and eliminate it. Our child labor code of conduct, introduced in 2000, was developed in close co-operation with Save the Children and with advice from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.

Independent third-party auditors complement our own audits to help us check for child labour at suppliers and their sub-contractors. On the rare occasion we have concerns about child labour in the IKEA supply chain, we always move quickly to address them. We take a responsible approach and ensure that the supplier addresses the problem and creates schooling opportunities for the children – not letting them simply move to another factory – always with the best interest of the child in mind.

Preventing and eradicating child labor is a big challenge, which can only be tackled by addressing the root causes with a holistic approach. That’s why the IKEA Foundation supports UNICEF and Save the Children child rights programs in 25,000 villages in a number of states in India and Pakistan, reaching a total of 15 million children by the end of 2017. The aim is to create child-friendly communities, where the idea of every child attending and staying in school is fully embraced and encouraged by all parts of society.

The work we have done with suppliers since 2000 has contributed to more than 165,000 large and small improvements to working conditions and the environment.

Sustainable life at home
woman and children in IKEA kitchen
Discover products that help you live more sustainably, whether it’s saving energy or
sorting waste.
Sustainable life at home
Energy & resources
black chair in forest
Check out how we are working behind the scenes to protect some of the world’s most important resources.
Energy & resources
People & communities
a group of female textile workers
See what we do to try to help create a better life for people and communities.
People & communities
Find out
front page of the IKEA sustainability report 2012
Want to dig deeper? Want to see who we work with? Here’s where you’ll find even more.
Find out more