Unilever CEO Paul Polman this afternoon addressed 1,300 young leaders from 182 countries during the third annual One Young World Summit, challenging them to remake capitalism. The three-day summit brings together delegates focused on creating lasting and positive global change.
Polman called on the audience to start businesses that create opportunities for others to get involved and that drive positive social change—and not to rely on government or international consensus to solve issues like climate change – harnessing their youth and leveraging movements for good that are happening already.
“A 21 st Century form of business [is] where the everyday consumer is helping to shape the social contract—moving from a val ue-based transaction to a val ues-based partnership,” he said.
The challenge is one that Unilever itself is undertaking. In 2010, the company pledged to decouple business growth from its environmental impact and launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, an ambitious blueprint for a new business model underpinned by a set of around 50 goals aimed at halving the company’s environmental impact, sourcing 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, and helping one billion people improve their health and well-being.“We want to show that it is possible to do well and do good on a mass scale. We want to show that big doesn’t have to be bad and that it’s not only small that’s beautiful,” Polman said to the assembled audience at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Polman is a second-year counsellor to the young delegates—part of an esteemed group providing inspiration and assistance, including: musician Bob Geldof, KBE; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus; former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan; Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey; musician Joss Stone; model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova; and campaigner Jamie Oliver. Access a full copy of Polman’s speech here. About Unilever Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011.