Unilever publishes Sustainable Living Plan update

9 August 2016

Unilever has published its 5-year progress report on its Sustainable Living Plan in Australia and New Zealand. It gives a snapshot of the big gains the company has made around the world in its bid to achieve a zero carbon, zero poverty world, and shows how sustainability is helping drive growth, cut costs, mitigate risks and build trust with consumers and the community as a whole. 

The report, which is the halfway point of the company’s sustainable growth journey, backs up its aim of “making sustainable living commonplace”.

To mark the report, the company held a ‘Mobilising Collective Action’ panel event – with Australian experts from Westpac, Energy Australia, City of Sydney, World Wildlife Fund, The Climate Institute, Male Champions of Change, The Ethics Centre, and Sustainable Business Australia – to discuss ideas and actions that will enable Australia to step up and maximise the opportunities the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). They focused on five of the 17 global goals: Gender Equality, Life On Land, Climate Change, Responsible Consumption, and Partnerships.

They concluded that Australia must step up efforts to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and low-carbon economy to guarantee its future prosperity.

Clive Stiff, Chairman and CEO of Unilever Australia and New Zealand, talking about the goals, said: “At Unilever, we have seen there is no trade-off between profitable business growth and sustainability. In fact, it is creating real value for Unilever, inspiring our consumers who are also seeking responsibility and meaning as well as high quality products at the right price. 

“Many Australian businesses are also taking a lead and recognising the economic case for action on key social and environmental issues.”

Unilever says it hopes to be able to extend this conversation into New Zealand next year and engage the wider business and NGO community as well as the Government on how action on the goals can be leveraged to drive benefits and opportunities for New Zealand.

Download a copy of the report here.

Key insights from the panel included:

  • Clive Stiff, Chairman and CEO of Unilever Australia and New Zealand, said profitable business growth is tied to the development of sustainable long term practices. The discussion highlighted just how important it is for businesses to now use their reach, expertise and resources on the areas where they can have the most positive impact.
  • Gender Equality – Elizabeth Broderick, Founder of Male Champions of Change: "We must redefine what normal looks like in Australia and we must ask "50/50, if not, why not". We should ask for transparency about gender statistics at the point of making buying decisions and continue to educate Australians about gender parity by building the principles into education curriculums."
  • Responsible Consumption – Andrew Petersen, CEO of Sustainable Business Australia: "We need to inspire and educate consumers to make more informed decisions and understand how the products they purchase can have a positive impact on the world. It is also really important that the Australian territories and states comes together on resource use and create a national plan rather than having individual strategies that don't speak to each other."
  • Partnerships – Trent Moy, Senior Consultant, The Ethics Centre: "We need to re-think how we partner. From creating more visibility of existing partnerships and discussing what worked so others can learn, to taking the competitiveness out of partnerships and allowing business to politely steal from each other where it is beneficial to society."
  • Life on Land – Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF: "We need to start with traceability and certification, looking at the supply chain and solving the problem of how to make it business as usual across the whole sector. Then we must change consumer behaviour. Food waste might be the best starting point as it will be a critical issue."