– Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of international consumer goods group Unilever, has been awarded the 2013 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal.
Paul Polman has led Unilever's drive to be more sustainable. Under his leadership, Unilever has built a new business model that enables responsible and equitable growth, embedded in the ambitious vision to double its size while reducing its overall environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.
"Through his bold vision and leadership, Paul Polman has provided a compelling example of how businesses can grow without harming the planet," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.
"Paul has shown what building sustainable supply chains – from raw materials to consumer goods – can mean in practice, and demonstrated that corporate leaders can be part of the solution to major environmental and social challenges."
This is first time the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal goes to the sitting CEO of a major multinational company.
Paul Polman is also deeply engaged in the international policy arena, leading private sector involvement in the G20 and serving on the high-level panel convened by the U.N. Secretary General to help shape development of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
"The sheer size and complexity of the issues we face today can only be resolved through large scale international partnerships and other forms of collaboration," said Paul Polman.
"It is a particular honour for me therefore to accept this award from an organization which has set the standard in driving these partnerships and in helping to make the world a better place for all. Unilever and WWF themselves have a long history of working together on transformational projects and I have been proud to build on that relationship during my time as CEO. This award gives us renewed energy and added confidence that Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is the right model at the right time".
WWF works with companies to drive conservation results at a scale that would not be possible without collaboration.
By challenging companies to reduce their ecological footprint, WWF encourages sector and market shifts towards sustainable solutions, lighter consumer impact on the planet, and accelerated policy changes that must happen if we are to shift to a more sustainable future.
The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was created in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment.
Paul Polman joins a long line of conservation leaders, and receives his award today from Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International, at the Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, Switzerland, during a cocktail reception sponsored by Grupo Codorníu of Spain.
Awardees receive a gold medal in a sustainably-sourced rosewood box donated by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, an Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch provided by Rolex, and a certificate signed by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.