Paul Polman receives UN’s highest environmental accolade

Paul Polman has been awarded the UN’s highest environmental accolade – Champion of the Earth Award – for leading the business world towards a new model of sustainable growth.

Bold leadership

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is recognising Paul for his bold leadership, which demonstrates that the transition to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity to be seized, not a risk to be managed.

As CEO of Unilever, Paul introduced the Sustainable Living Plan that is helping us reduce our environmental footprint and increase our positive social impact. We have already achieved zero waste to landfill across our entire global factory network, reduced the amount of CO2 from energy and water in manufacturing by 37% and 32% respectively since 2008, and are sourcing more than half of our agricultural raw materials sustainably.

Influence beyond Unilever

This long-term perspective is mirrored in Paul’s leadership on UN and other sustainability boards. He is chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and co-chair of the Global Consumer Goods Forum Sustainability Committee, sits on the board of the UN Global Compact and is a member of the Commission on the New Climate Economy. Paul was also part of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda which helped come up with key recommendations on the new Sustainable Development Goals.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, says: “[Paul’s] leadership is directly influencing a sustainability shift in the corporate world beyond his own company. He has been an untiring advocate in both professional and personal capacity to make the world of business commit to being part of the solution to the manifold challenges of sustainable development.”

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

“I’m deeply honoured to accept this award,” comments Paul. “As the United Nations prepares to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals and agree a global climate deal, it is more important than ever that businesses take active leadership to show that growth and sustainability are not in conflict. Quite the opposite: in our experience sustainability drives growth.

“We have reached a tipping point for change in 2015, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end poverty and tackle climate change. But we need everyone on board – business, governments and NGOs. Now is the time to make this a fairer, more prosperous, more sustainable world.”

About Champions of the Earth

The annual Champions of the Earth award recognises visionary people and organisations that exemplify leadership and advocate action on sustainable development, climate change and a life of dignity for all.

This year’s edition aims to support the new Sustainable Development Goals by illustrating that the transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient, inclusive and sustainable economic models is not just possible, but already in progress.

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