Driving transformational change

At Unilever we have been asking ourselves how we can make a transformational difference to those big issues that matter most to our business and to the world.

Handwashing with Lifebuoy soap

Through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we have set a bold ambition to achieve change within our own company - through our brands, innovation, sourcing and operations. But we are only one company among many and the change needed to tackle the world's major social, environmental and economic issues is big - and urgent.

What is really needed is fundamental change to the broader systems of which we are a part - whether that is in countering climate change, achieving food security or improving health.

So at Unilever we have set out to make a transformational difference to those big issues that matter most to our business. By combining our own actions with external advocacy on public policy and joint working with partners, we are seeking to create what we call 'transformational change' - that is fundamental change to whole systems, not simply incremental improvements.

We are focusing in three areas where we have the scale, influence and resources to make a big difference. These areas are:

  • Eliminating deforestation from commodity supply chains by 2020, to help combat the threat from climate change.
  • Making sustainable agriculture the mainstream, and so increase food yields and enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
  • Working towards universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

In all three areas, the role of women is crucial, both as partners in change and as beneficiaries. Empowering women is critical to eradicating poverty and accelerating global development.

To achieve change at scale, we need to go beyond what we can achieve in our own operations and with our suppliers. The two principal mechanisms to do this are advocacy on public policy and partnership working. So we are stepping up our engagement with governments, NGOs and others in our industry and forming partnerships to demonstrate the change we want to see. Often our partners become the best advocates of system-wide change.

By focusing on these three issues and working in this way, we believe we can help address the twin goals of combating climate change and promoting human development.

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