Paul Polman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unilever and transformative business leader, is the winner of this year’s United Nations Champions of the Earth Award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category.
"With his ambitious vision and personal commitment to sustainability, Mr. Polman has established a reputation for leading by example,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), while announcing the award.
UNEP recognized Mr. Polman’s “bold leadership” in proving that transitioning to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity waiting to be seized.
“As Unilever CEO, he is demonstrating the need for long-term corporate thinking that accounts for social and environmental concerns. In addition, his leadership on UN and other sustainability boards is directly influencing a sustainability shift in the corporate world beyond his own company,” said Mr. Steiner.
Mr. Polman has introduced plans to halve the environmental footprint produced by Unilever by 2020. Under his sustainable business models, Unilever has already achieved zero waste to landfill and reduced the amount of CO2sub> from energy and water in manufacturing by 37 and 32 per cent since 2008.
"I'm deeply honoured to accept this award,” Mr. Polman said in response to the announcement. “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.”
Mr. Polman also serves as Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and sits on the Board of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative, and other committees dedicated to pushing successful measures for sustainability for all businesses.
He was also a part of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel helped draft Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, which aims to ‘to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.’
The annual Champions of the Earth awards are the highest environmental accolade that the UN confers upon outstanding individuals and organizations. The awards will be handed out at a gala ceremony at the close of the Sustainable Development Summit, on 27 September in New York.