Paul Polman wins top award for advocacy work

Paul Polman has won the Commitment to Development Ideas in Action award for his work to reduce tropical deforestation and his contribution to shaping the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.

CEO praised for making a difference

The award honours an individual or organisation for making a significant contribution to changing the attitudes and policies of the rich and powerful toward the developing world.

Award sponsors the Centre for Global Development (CGD) and the FP Group praised Paul Polman’s advocacy work to reduce the tropical deforestation associated with the production of consumer goods.

CGD president Nancy Birdsall says: “Paul Polman is making a real difference in both attitudes and practices of international businesses, especially those that rely on raw materials from tropical developing nations for the production of consumer products.”

Achieving a more sustainable future

Many of Unilever’s brands rely on tropical agricultural products, especially palm oil. Clearing tropical forests for palm oil production is a significant driver of deforestation, which reduces biodiversity, eliminates livelihood opportunities for people who depend on forest-based income, and increases the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

Paul, who is also the Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, says: “We have never had a better opportunity to eradicate poverty and at the same time achieve a more sustainable future. Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to act.

“Business has to be a part of the solution. It only takes a handful of sizeable companies to reach a tipping point and to transform markets – and that is exactly what we try to achieve through the Tropical Forest Alliance and others.”

Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

Since the launch of its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, Unilever’s use of sustainably sourced agricultural materials has risen to 36% while greenhouse gas emissions per Unilever consumer have dropped by 6% and production-associated waste per Unilever customer has decreased by 7%.

The Commitment to Development Ideas in Action award also honours Paul’s contributions to development in non-forestry fields including nutrition and his work as part of the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

He received the award at the CGD’s Washington headquarters on 11 February 2014.

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