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Unilever’s Sustainability Program positively influences 32.2 million people across MENA

The ‘Unilever MENA Sustainable Living Plan’ calls for growing Unilever’s business, while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact. The plan has so far delivered growth for Unilever’s brands that have a social purpose, and delivered savings via cost avoidance by reducing the environmental impact of its operations and enhancing the livelihoods of those within its value chain.

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – 3rd year Update event drew attention to the need for concerted effort and long-term partnerships between public and private entities for achieving transformational change.

“The Unilever MENA Sustainable Living Plan is our way of driving business growth in a responsible manner that also creates socio-environmental change. We recognise that sustainable business success requires equitable behaviour that preserves the environment and empowers stakeholders. We are proud to have made considerable progress towards our 2020 goals of improving the health & hygiene of 50 million people, halving our environmental impact and improving the livelihoods of thousands in collaboration with our Sustainability Partners.

We will continue reaching out to create powerful momentum resulting in meaningful action,” said Sanjiv Kakkar, Unilever’s Executive Vice President - North Africa Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Health & Hygiene Programs

Since the introduction of the Plan in 2012, Unilever MENA’s Health and Hygiene programme has reached up to 19 million consumers. Sustainability initiatives have helped deepen brand equities, while driving increased consumer preference, thus generating an Incremental Turnover (iTO) of EUR 7 million (AED 28.65 million) for Unilever’s Signal and Lifebuoy brands.

Environmental Programs

On the Environmental front, while Unilever has increased production volumes by 31 percent since 2008, its eco efficiency measures have led to a 26% GJ/per tonne reduction in its energy use. This is equivalent to 75,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, or getting 16,270 cars off the road, which has saved the business EUR 5 million (AED 21 million).

Unilever MENA has also reduced the water consumption in its manufacturing units and some office sites in MENA and has thus achieved a water consumption reduction of 5% m3/tonne.

Unilever’s “Water Savers” campaign, which was launched to educate consumers on water conservation, has reached close to 13.5 million consumers, resulting in an iTO of EUR 2,278,744 (AED 9.54 million) for its “Water Savers” brands such as ‘Lux Shower Gel’, ‘Lux Sunlight’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Lifebuoy Hand Wash’. Brand sales have crossed 5,300 tonnes in terms of volume since the introduction of the program in 2013.

All 9 Unilever MENA factories have achieved the goal of “Zero Waste to Landfill,” as has the Unilever MENA HQ in Dubai. Non-hazardous waste going to landfill has also been reduced 64 percent overall when operations are included.

Enhancing Livelihoods Programs

Unilever MENA has also been running several “enhancing livelihoods” programs as part of its Sustainable Living Plan. These programs have resulted in an incremental turnover of EUR 13,919,780 (AED 58 million approximately). Project ‘Baqala’, the Gulf-wide programme that trains small grocery owners and budding retail entrepreneurs to manage their shops has trained 17,681 grocers between 2012 and 2014 in the science of retail and small business management.

In Egypt, Project ‘Zineb’ has improved the livelihoods of 2000 disadvantaged females by proving them with literacy, sales training, microloans through an NGO partner, and the opportunity to sell Unilever products.

Project ‘Safeer’, which is Project Zineb’s counterpart for men, has trained 550 young and educated, yet unemployed men to seek earning power by selling Unilever products.

Panel Discussion, MoU Signing & Sustainability Partners Recognition ceremony

The ‘Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – 3rd year Update’ event agenda included an engaging panel discussion on the importance of partnership building for concerted positive action. The panel comprised Laila Abdullatif, Deputy Director General, EWS- WWF; Wafaa Ayesh, Director of Clinical Nutrition, Dubai Health Authority; and Sultan Al Zaabi, Engineer for Conservation and Outreach Management, DEWA. The discussion highlighted the need for collective effort to create transformational change, and the opportunities and challenges of formulating effective partnerships.

A highlight of the event was the signing of a MoU between Unilever MENA and the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA). The agreement, which calls for SEWA and Unilever MENA to collaborate in educating consumers towards water conservation, was signed by Unilever’s Executive Vice President - North Africa Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus Sanjiv Kakkar and SEWA’s Chairman Dr Rashid Al Leem.

“We are proud to be working with influential partners in the public, private and civil society space to marshal resources towards creating positive change while also spurring business growth. We will continue exploring ways to make these partnerships even further reaching and effective. I would like to thank all our Sustainability Partners for helping us achieve our Sustainable Living goals,” Kakkar added.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan – 3rd year Update concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing Unilever’s sustainability partners. “We are well aware that our success in the MENA region, and the wide reach of our messages have been achieved by the trust, support and collaboration with our sustainability partners. We wanted to take the opportunity in our 3rd Year Update to thank and recognise them for their continuous support in helping creating a future that looks very different to today’s world,” concluded Kakkar.

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About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has more than 172,000 employees and generated sales of €48.4 billion in 2014. Over half of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets (57% in 2014). With more than 400 brands found in homes across the world, its portfolio includes Omo, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Sunsilk, Signal, Magnum and Axe.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) aims to double the size of the business whilst reducing environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. Its three goals are:

Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being

Decoupling their growth from their environmental impact

Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index Series, it attained a top environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the fourth year running, and in 2015 was ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard.

Unilever has been named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers across all sectors. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

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