Unilever’s Gold Medal submission was evaluated in a global competition with companies in multiple business sectors by WEC’s independent Gold Medal Jury chaired by Dr. Joel Abrams, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh. The Jury found that Unilever earned the award on the merits of its long-term dedication to integrating sustainability into its business products and operations, its deep history of improving global environmental standards, and its comprehensive Unilever Sustainable Living Plan business strategy that contains specific performance goals and more than 50 targets.
This Unilever Sustainable Living Plan addresses environmental improvements not only in Unilever’s direct operations but with its suppliers, distributors and, most innovatively, in how consumers use its brands. Half of Unilever’s raw materials come from either farms or forests, and the company has committed to the sustainable sourcing of 100% of its agricultural raw materials within eight years. In addition, the initiative commits to helping more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well being, and finally, it promises to cut the environmental footprint of Unilever products in half while doubling the size of its business.
“On behalf of the independent Gold Medal Jury, I extend my sincere congratulations to Unilever for its extraordinary commitment to sustainable business throughout its operations. The scale and depth of Unilever’s impact across sustainable farming, logistics and consumer behavior has raised the bar for global businesses,” stated Gold Medal Jury Chairman Joel Abrams.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, “I am delighted that WEC has recognized Unilever with its Gold Medal. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is at the heart of our new business model for sustainable, equitable growth and, excitingly, is inspiring people inside and outside the company. We’re 18 months into the Plan and we’ve already achieved much, but it will all be for naught if we can’t persuade others – consumers, NGOs, governments, businesses – to each take small actions individually to make a big difference collectively and to work in partnership to help solve some of the big issues the planet faces.”
The World Environment Center’s Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development was established in 1985 to recognize significant industry initiatives in global environmental excellence and sustainable development. Recent recipients of the WEC Gold Medal Award are: IBM (2012), Nestl (2011), Wal-Mart Stores (2010), The Coca-Cola Company (2009), Marks & Spencer (2008), Alcan Inc (2007), ABN AMRO Bank (2006), Starbucks (2005), Johnson Controls Inc. (2004), and the Ricoh Group Ltd. (2003).
The WEC Gold Medal Jury is independent of WEC and its programs, and is composed of international leaders from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and retired industry professionals.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011. More than half our sales are generated in emerging markets (56% in 2011). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands such as Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Radox, Sure and Lifebuoy.
Our ambition is to double the size of our business, while reducing our overall environmental impact (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal). We are also committed to doing what we can to improve health, nutrition and hygiene, with goals to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, as well as to source all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. Supporting our three big goals are more than 50 time-based targets in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
The World Environment Center, headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices and operations in emerging and developed markets, is unique in its direct application of sustainable development strategies and practices to the business operations of global companies. WEC creates sustainable business solutions through individual projects in emerging markets; convenes leadership roundtables to shape strategic thinking across a range of sustainability topics; and honors industry excellence through the annual awarding of its Gold Medal Award. An independent non-profit organization, WEC conducts no advocacy activities.