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About our reporting

Our aim is to provide a transparent account of progress against the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan through engaging, insightful and evidence-based reporting.

Scientists in lab

Our online reporting details performance against our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) targets for the period 1 January to 31 December 2018 (except where indicated otherwise).

Since April 2014, our annual Sustainable Living Report has been published online in the Sustainable Living section of our website as we want it to be accessible to as many people as possible. As in previous years, we have published a USLP summary which can be downloaded via Our Sustainable Living Report Hub. Sustainability information can also be found in our 2018 Annual Report and Accounts (PDF | 4MB).

Many Unilever operating companies around the world also produce their own country specific content describing their actions in support of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Please visit local websites for more information.

Our reporting is aimed at a broad range of audiences, including:

  • Specialist audiences, such as investors, analysts, NGOs, governments and opinion formers, who are typically interested in more technical sustainability information.
  • Generalist audiences, such as employees, job seekers and citizens, who are interested in content relating to their personal interests.

Understanding our sustainability impacts and priorities enables us to address the sustainability issues that matter most to our business strategy and to our stakeholders. It also allows us to tailor our reporting so it is aligned with audiences’ interests and needs. See Defining our materiality process for further information.

As part of our reporting process, we receive feedback from our USLP Steering Team, our Board’s Corporate Responsibility Committee and the USLP Council of external sustainability advisers, as well as our employees and opinion formers. Find out more about our sustainability governance here.

External standards

We adhere to the principles of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and many of the original GRI Framework indicators are embedded in our reporting.

We are a signatory to the UN Global Compact principles. We provide an annual update in our Communication on Progress on how we are living out the Compact’s ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption in our everyday business operations. We also report on our sustainability governance and leadership, including ways in which we support broader UN goals.

Through our USLP, Sustainable Living brands and our transformational change agenda we contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Boundaries and scope

Our impacts are far reaching, so we have identified and prioritised our most material issues to the business and to stakeholders across our value chain. Our report includes performance data for our direct operations and information on how we are managing the most material issues across our extended value chain, which encompasses both our supply chain and in some cases how our products are used by consumers.

Our online Sustainable Living Report 2018, including our USLP targets and metrics, cover all entities in Unilever’s 2018 Annual Report and Accounts (PDF | 4MB) unless otherwise stated (including acquired subsidiary undertakings such as Blue Air – although in most cases there is a lag between acquisition and the inclusion of data in our reporting).

Unilever consistently applies relevant metrics and targets to all relevant parts of its business operations. Even where a metric and target is only relevant to part of business operations (for instance our handwashing target which focuses on markets where we sell Lifebuoy soap), it still applies to 100% of those parts, globally. A number of our targets and metrics also apply to relevant parts of our value chain, such as our GHG, water and waste footprint targets.

Our manufacturing environmental and occupational safety indicators do not include contract production or outsourced support services. Operations and sites where we do not have management control and operations categorised as joint ventures or investments are excluded from the scope of all performance indicators, unless otherwise indicated in Unilever’s Basis of Preparation 2018 (PDF | 573KB).

When setting our targets, we use our knowledge of our business, the markets where we operate and the issues to determine the most relevant and materially impactful scope for each target. We report the material coverage for our targets so that our metrics cover 100% of the scope deemed to be material, unless specifically stated in our Basis of Preparation.

In some cases, the scope deemed to material is the same as the total scope. In others it is less because we have applied a management judgement as to what the scope should be. Previous years’ Basis of Preparations are available in our Reports & Publications archive.

Independent assurance

External assurance of sustainability performance indicators is an important part of our approach and our environmental reporting has been independently assured since 1996. Our social report was assured for the first time in 2004.

In 2018 we reappointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to provide independent assurance of the USLP and Environmental and Occupational Safety (EOS) performance indicators. PwC’s Assurance Report describes the work undertaken and their conclusion for the reporting period to 31 December 2018. Documents relating to independent external assurance in the years prior to 2017 are available in our Reports & Publications section.

Please see Independent assurance and our metrics for further information about our assurance process.

Our metrics

Our metrics enable us to measure and report progress on our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). We have a clear methodology for each metric as documented in each metric’s Basis of Preparation (PDF | 573KB). We have kept these under regular review since launching the USLP in 2010. Previous years’ Basis of Preparations are publicly available in our Reports & Publications archive.

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