Unilever NZ has provided a New Zealand update on its global and local progress on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), hosting more than 90 leaders across business, NGO, academic and government organisations to discuss the importance of businesses leading for trust in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

Unilever provided an update on the progress and challenges of its seventh year of delivering the USLP, including hosting its first New Zealand panel event with sustainable business leaders to discuss sustainability, trust and transparency within the business.

“We are delighted to host this important discussion in New Zealand with such depth in the panel and audience, who can help drive the ongoing conversation around sustainable business," said Unilever New Zealand Managing Director Nick Bangs.

The panel for the New Zealand event included Nick Bangs; Abbie Reynolds Executive Director, Sustainable Business Council; Peter Hardstaff, Environmental Campaigns Manager, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Adriana Christie, Waitemata Local Board and Social Enterprise Auckland.

“Improved cross-sector collaboration is a key element for all industries to increase transparency and ultimately trust. With this in mind, we are proud to share how we are progressing with our Sustainable Living Plan – the foundations from which we aim to create trust across every aspect of our value chain,” said Bangs.

The panel discussed the role businesses can play to drive better collaboration and more progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) here in New Zealand, and the ways to help encourage individual behavioural change within the sustainability space.

“We have seen four years of consecutive growth for our ‘sustainable living’ brands, which last year grew 46 percent faster than the rest of our business and delivered 70 percent of is turnover growth. This tells us the USLP is making a difference, and that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact the products they are purchasing have,” says Mr Bangs.

Unilever has long recognised that the only acceptable business model is one in which the planet and society thrive. In 2010 Unilever launched the USLP – the company’s blueprint for sustainable growth which responds to the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly resource-constrained and unequal world.

Unilever is already looking beyond its current USLP targets by carrying out its largest ever listening exercise on the future of sustainable business. Over 40,000 employees and 250 stakeholders responded to the ‘Have Your Say’ project, setting out their views on the priorities they would like Unilever to focus on and what future success would look like.

Globally the top three themes were; access to water, clean air, and health, hygiene and nutrition. The New Zealand market has slightly different priorities – led by zero food and packaging waste, access to water and climate change, which were above protecting the natural world and mental health and wellbeing.

The USLP covers over 50 targets grouped under three pillars of improving health and well-being for more than 1 billion, halving environmental impact and enhancing livelihoods for millions.

As well as providing a progress update on the USLP, Unilever also launched the Young Entrepreneur Awards today. The awards recognise and support brilliant young innovators tackling the planet’s biggest environmental and social challenges, and to help them achieve scale for impact. Since the launch of the Awards in 2013, it has reached over 3,500 inspiring young sustainability entrepreneurs and their organisations and provided tailored support and funding to 29 winners.