Paul Polman

Chief Executive Officer, Unilever

Champion of the Earth

Entrepreneurial Vision

About Paul Polman

2015 was a triumphant year. We now have the global policy frameworks provided by the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement to drive implementation and action. We must work in partnership to deliver our global ambition for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future. None of us can do it alone, and we can all be champions of the earth. At Unilever, we continue to play our part in driving sustainable business models, spurred on to even greater efforts by the honour of this award. I look forward to congratulating this year’s Champions and working together to change the path of human history.

For championing equitable and sustainable business practices for a better world

Under Paul Polman’s leadership, Unilever has developed an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from environmental degradation and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan—entirely consistent with his personal philosophy detailing the need for sustainable business models in a world of decreasing resources.

Not only does Mr. Polman set the example for other businesses, but his chairmanship of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development further takes the message across the private sector—as do his roles in the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, the B Team, and the Board of the UN Global Compact and the Consumer Goods Forum, where he co-chairs the Sustainability Committee.

Mr. Polman has been closely involved in global discussions on action to tackle climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He served on the International Council of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, whose flagship report ‘New Climate Economy’ demonstrates that lasting economic growth can be achieved while reducing climate change risks.  At the invitation of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Polman also served on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, Mr. Polman has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Atlantic Council Award for Distinguished Business Leadership (2012), WWF's Duke of Edinburgh Gold Conservation Medal (2013), the Centre for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award (2013), the Rainforest Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), the UN Foundation’s Champion for Global Change Award (2014) and the Oslo Business for Peace Award (2015).

In a year when the world aims to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals and sign a new agreement on climate change, such leadership sends a vital and timely message that sustainability and profit can, and indeed should, go hand-in-hand in any forward-thinking business that wishes to thrive in the years to come.

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2015 Laureates