sustainable growth:value + values

At Unilever, we believe business growth should not be at the expense of people and the planet.

That's why we’ve changed the way we do business, and why we want to change the way business is done.

Scroll to continue

At Unilever, we believe business growth should not be at the expense of people and the planet.

That's why we’ve changed the way we do business, and why we want to change the way business is done.

Our business model drives growth that is consistent, profitable, competitive - and responsible.

It is why we created the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), and seven years on it is still core to everything we do.

The USLP is driving growth through brands with purpose, taking out costs from our business, reducing risks and helping us to build trust - creating long-term value for the multiple stakeholders we serve. Tweet this

We have achieved or are on track with more than 80% of the time-bound targets which focus on improving health and wellbeing, reducing environmental impact and enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people.

  • More growth

    Research shows that consumers are actively choosing to buy brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good. This is why we are developing our 'sustainable living' brands.

    We now have 18 ‘sustainable living’ brands including Dove, Lipton, and Hellmann’s, which all have a clear purpose relating to a social or environmental concern and contribute to the USLP. In 2016, they delivered 60% of our growth and are growing over 50% faster than the rest of the business.

    50% fast growth rate
  • Lower costs

    By cutting waste and reducing the use of energy, raw materials and natural resources, we create efficiencies and cut costs, while becoming less exposed to price volatility.

    We have achieved a cumulative cost avoidance of over €700 million through eco-efficiency measures in our factories since 2008.

    €700 cumulative cost avoidance
  • Less risk

    Operating sustainably helps us to future-proof our supply chain against the risks associated with climate change and sourcing materials.

    In 2016 51% of our agricultural raw materials were sustainably sourced.

    51% agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced
  • More trust

    Placing sustainability at the heart of our business model helps us stay relevant to consumers, and strengthens our relationships with stakeholders.

    Our USLP inspires current and future employees. We have maintained our status as the Graduate Employer of Choice in the fast-moving consumer goods sector in 34 countries.

    Graduate employer of choice in 34 countries

Sustainable development – the greatest economic opportunity of our lifetime

According to latest estimates, nearly 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty. One in nine of us is undernourished, yet one in ten is obese.

Many regions are experiencing political and social unrest, and we’re overstepping many of the natural limits of our planet.

These are huge challenges.

Sunrise seen from space

But in tackling them, there are also huge opportunities for people and business to grow and succeed.

In September 2015, the world agreed 17 United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) – a global ‘to do’ list to combat climate change, fight injustice and inequality and end poverty for good. Business played a key role in shaping the goals and will continue to be a critical player in delivering the goals.

Business played a key role in shaping the goals and will continue to be a critical player in delivering the goals. Tweet this

The SDGs offer business an unprecedented economic opportunity. Pursuing these Goals could deliver valuable market opportunities, unlocking economic growth of up to $12 trillion and creating 380 million jobs, according to estimates from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

Sustainable growth takes teamwork

Beyond the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we use our scale, influence and resources to make a real difference to issues that matter. Tweet this

We know we can only do this by working together with other businesses, civil society and governments.

Collective action is the most powerful tool we have to drive positive change.

  • Eliminating deforestation

    Together with others in our industry, we have committed to achieving zero net deforestation associated with four commodities by 2020 – palm oil, soy, paper and board, and beef.

    In Indonesia 40% of palm oil production comes from smallholder farmers. Through a partnership with the provincial government of Central Kalimantan, the district government of Kotawaringin Barat and Yayasan Penelitian Inovasi Bumi (INOBU), we have started working with 600 independent farmers cultivating 1,400 hectares of land towards certification. We will create a village-by-village approach to producing palm oil sustainably while improving livelihoods and protecting forests.

  • Mainstreaming sustainable agriculture

    As one of the largest purchasers of crops such as tea, palm oil and vegetables, we’re working with partners to help to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition.

    As smallholder farmers often sell their most nutritious foods, we launched a nutrition programme - Seeds of Prosperity - with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). Working across commodity supply chains, the programme promotes the importance of nutritious foods, a diverse diet and handwashing with soap. Families are also given the means to grow their own kitchen gardens. A successful pilot reached 2,600 farmers in Tamil Nadu, India and it will now be rolled out to benefit a further 300,000 people.

  • Clean water & sanitation

    Our ambition is to achieve universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

    Tackling these issues together with others can achieve a fundamental impact on the diseases that cause ill health and cost lives.

    A third of the world’s population do not have access to a clean, safe, toilet. One way Domestos and its partners are trying to address this is through its Domestos Toilet Academies (DTA’s) scheme. This trains local entrepreneurs to supply, install and maintain hygienic toilets and educate local communities on the importance of sanitation. With the help of our partners, since 2014 over 500 entrepreneurs have been trained, and over 116,000 toilets commissioned to reach an estimated 619,000 people in India and Vietnam.

  • Opportunities for women

    The role of women in sustainable development is crucial, both as partners in change and as beneficiaries. Unlocking women’s economic and social potential could add $28 trillion to global annual GDP by 2025.

    In partnership with TechnoServe, we have set up ten Sunlight Water Centres to provide clean, affordable water to communities in Nigeria. The Centres double-up as the village shop and offer the women who manage them business skills and a salary. The aim is to create 1,000 sites, which presents an incremental business opportunity of up to €20 million to Unilever.

We do not underestimate the scale of the challenges, but we’re optimistic.

Combined with the evidence of our own growth, we have renewed confidence that we’re on not just the right path, but the only path to consistent, profitable, competitive and responsible growth. A brighter future has already begun.

Sunrise seen from space

A brighter futurehas already begun.

Back to top