The world is changing. Climate change is taking effect. Water and food supplies are increasingly scarce, while the population is growing rapidly. Meeting basic hygiene and sanitation needs is even more of a challenge – and all this is stretching the planet’s resources even further.
This is giving rise to innumerable social, environmental and economic issues that need to be addressed. In developing countries, for instance, extreme weather linked to climate change is causing damage to agricultural production.
This is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases, costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP.
The US coast and islands in the Atlantic, on the other hand, have felt the brunt of mother nature in 2017 and are still reeling from the impact of five major hurricanes – the highest number since 2010, and resultant damages to the tune of $184 billion.
As a company, we want to contribute to making a difference to those big issues that matter most to our business and to the world. In the belief that business growth should not be at the expense of people or the planet, we have set a vision that aims to reduce our environmental footprint and increases our positive social impact, while driving business growth. Our roadmap to achieving this is the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Tackling these large challenges and achieving transformational systems change however cannot be done singlehandedly by any single body. It requires the force of collaboration and collective action from all.
2015 was a crucial step in this direction, with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly. This was followed by the global climate deal at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December of the same year.
In our endeavor as an organization that wants to find long-lasting solutions, Unilever held a sustainability event in Dubai in September 2016. Held in partnership with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, this multi-sectoral event aimed to galvanize attention and action behind the SDG’s and the UAE 2021 goals.
The event focused on four key area’s – renewable energy and reduction in energy consumption; zero waste to landfill; health – with a focus on obesity; and youth entrepreneurship. The results of the discussions on the opportunities and challenges towards the achievement of the above four topics are outlined in this report. Please click here to download the report.
At Unilever, we are committed to making sustainable living commonplace. I hope this report provides you with meaningful insights which can be translated into collective action for a brighter and more sustainable future for all.