The value of SDG-focused business models

What does the chief executive of the world’s largest consumer goods company have to say about the business case of the Sustainable Development Goals? Listen to Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman in this exclusive interview.

temasek ecosperity 2017 paul polman

On any given day, some two billion people around the world use Unilever products, making it the world’s largest consumer goods company.

It is also one of the most active players in a growing sustainability tribe of the world’s biggest retailers that promote and exemplify the idea that if a company wants to be prosperous in the long-term, then putting sustainability at the heart of its business model makes perfect sense.

At the sidelines of the recently concluded Ecosperity 2017 in Singapore, an annual conference organised by Singapore investment firm Temasek, Eco-Business interviewed Unilever CEO Paul Polman on his thoughts around how to align businesses with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Created and launched by the United Nations in 2015, the SDGs are a set of 17 global targets aimed at reducing poverty, combatting climate change, and achieving a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable society for all by 2030.

Aside from being chief executive at Unilever, Polman is also part of a high-level advisory panel to the SDGs, whose 27 members were picked in 2012 by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The panel is tasked to steer the SDGs’ direction as a global development framework. 

Here’s what Polman had to say about why SDGs matter to the private sector, and what the US$50 billion company which he helms is doing to promote these. 

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