Skip to content

Unilever New Zealand discusses the Sustainable Development Goals


Average read time: 8 minutes

Monday 21 May, Auckland, New Zealand: Unilever convenes first New Zealand discussion on the role of business in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.

Australia SDG

‘Sustainable living’ brands growing 46 per cent faster then the rest of Unilever’s business – delivering 70 per cent of its turnover growth

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 business.

Unilever New Zealand Managing Director Nick Bangs says, “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.”

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,” says Mr 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 per cent 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.

More detail on the progress of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan can be found online here. Highlights include:

  • Unilever now has 26 sustainable living brands (up from 18 in 2016). New entrants include household names such as Vaseline, Sunlight, and Sunsilk.
  • The list also includes Unilever’s top six brands – Dove, Lipton, Persil), Rexona, Hellmann’s and Continental – and its B-Corp certified brands such as Ben and Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and Pukka Herbs.
  • Over the last four years sustainable living brands have outperformed the average rate of growth at Unilever. In 2017 sustainable living brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of Unilever’s turnover growth.
  • By the end of 2017, 601 million people had been reached through Unilever’s programmes on handwashing, sanitation, oral health, self-esteem and safe drinking water. Lifebuoy soap alone has reached over 426 million people with their handwashing programme;
  • By the end of 2017, 109 of Unilever’s manufacturing sites across 368 countries were using 100% renewable grid electricity, accounting for 65% of total grid electricity consumption;
  • By the end of 2017, 56% of Unilever’s agricultural raw materials were sustainably sourced. In February this year Unilever became the first company to publicly disclose the suppliers and mills the company sources palm oil from both directly and indirectly;
  • In 2017 Unilever enabled around 716,000 smallholder farmers to access initiatives aiming to improve their agricultural practices or increase their incomes.

New Zealand initiatives:

  • Unilever Young Entrepreneur Awards: In 2013 Unilever started the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards to recognise and support brilliant young innovators tackling the planet’s biggest environmental and social challenges, and to help them achieve scale for impact. Since then the Awards have reached over 3,500 inspiring young sustainability entrepreneurs and their organisations and provided tailored support and funding to 29 winners.
  • Food Collective NZ: Food Collective is a partnership between Unilever Food Solutions, KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh and the public. Together they are on a mission to rescue food within the New Zealand hospitality industry. Unilever joined Food Collective, to become part of the solution, by assisting with funding to help KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh redirect quality surplus foods to those that need it. The program has donated 7360 meals to date.
  • Dove Self Esteem Project: The Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) aims to ensure that the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look and help them reach their full potential. In 2017 the DSEP partnered with New World in an aim to reach young Kiwis by being the first market to globally link a donation to the DSEP through an in-store activation. The campaign raised $40,000 in donations, helping Life Education reach 18,000 kiwi kids to help them grow up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look and reaching their full potential. By 2020 DSEP aims to double its social impact by reaching a total of 1.5 million lives in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Continental Sustainability Partnership: Is a programme that helps Continental farmers develop their ideas and fast-track implementation of sustainable farming practices in both Australia and New Zealand. David Oudes, a New Zealand pumpkin farmer, was recognised for championing agricultural sustainability and responsible land use and is certified against Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Code.
  • Unilever NZ is an active member of the Sustainable Business Council, who aim to mainstream sustainability within the New Zealand business community.
  • Unilever NZ contributes to the New Zealand Packaging Forum Soft Plastics Scheme through its Continental and Streets brands, where packaging from the products can be deposited at soft plastic recycling stations across New Zealand.
  • Vaseline Healing Project: A global initiative and partnership with Direct Relief to provide dermatological care and medical supplies to people affected by poverty and emergencies around the world – providing Kiwis with an opportunity to contribute to higher cause through purchasing behaviour.
  • Domestos and UNICEF Partnership: Domestos partnered with UNICEF globally in 2012 and helps provide sanitation products to women around the world and help people gain access to a toilet through behaviour change interventions and capacity building initiatives. The programme has been running in New Zealand since 2016.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 161,000 employees and generated sales of €53.7 billion in 2017. Over half (57%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. The company’s sustainable living brands are growing 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of the company’s growth in 2017.

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2017 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the seventh year running, and achieved four A ratings across Climate Change, Water, Forests and Supplier Engagement in CDP's 2018 Global Supply Chain report.

Unilever has pledged to become carbon positive in its operations by 2030, and to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit For more information on the USLP:

Back to top