Business impact statement
“Impact” can bear different meanings to specific people and context. Particularly at Unilever, the impact statement that the business is pursuing is "making sustainable living commonplace".
"Our compass is to bring sustainability to every home. This is our corporate DNA. Because sustainable development does not only appear at Unilever, but a country and society also need to develop sustainably to drive the growth of businesses", Ms. Bich Van shared at the conference.
|Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Bich Van (right) speaks at the summit|
Putting its first step in Vietnam since 1995, Unilever has accompanied and grown with the country in both economic and social aspects through the mission of improving hygiene, health and beauty for millions of Vietnamese people with purposeful products, as well as creating more positive impacts on the environment and people’s lives.
Sustainable development is the driving force for the business growth. Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman shared an example to demonstrate this. When Unilever’s Sunlight brand implements the program "Women do business" to help women – especially in rural areas – equip themselves with business knowledge and revolving capital to improve their livelihoods, the company is not only contributing to the social development but also helping raise consumers' brand love – this drives the growth of business.
"Talent is seeking employment with responsibilities for the society and environment", emphasized Ms. Bich Van. And talent, in certain, is the driver of the business growth.
Sustainable consumption prospect
As a leading consumer goods company with purposeful brands embedded to the lives and lifestyles of billions of people around the world and millions of those in Vietnam, Unilever is paying much attention to the sustainable consumption prospect.
Resources are finite, especially non-renewable resources – such as fossil fuels. Meanwhile, human demands are still maintained, even increasing, especially in emerging markets and when the world's population is going up.
"It is estimated that the Earth will have one billion more people every 10 to 15 years. By 2050, this number will be about 10 billion people. But the Earth does not 'expand'. We only have this one planet to inhabit and protect. So the urgency in promoting sustainable development – creating positive impact on the environment – is what we all need to take action to prevent an environmental crisis," Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman emphasized.
Therefore, one of the solutions to the sustainable consumption picture – making positive impact on the society and environment – that Unilever is aiming for is the circular economy model.
This model helps solve immediate concerns as well as long-term issues of the future, such as reducing non-renewable resources usage, greenhouse gases that cause climate change and waste to the environment, as well as promoting more efficient and sustainable business activities.
A specific initiative that Unilever has driven in Vietnam is the Circular Economy in Plastic Waste Management.
"The challenge related to plastic packaging makes lots of sense in Vietnam and at Unilever. Therefore, we commit by 2025, all of our plastic packaging is recyclable, half of virgin plastic amount in packaging production is reduced – which means post-consumer recycle plastic is utilized, and we need to collect and process more plastic than that we sell.
We have a strong impact commitment. Unilever, however, cannot drive this alone, but need cooperation and support from partners, social enterprises and 'green' investment," shared Ms. Bich Van.
The Chairwoman from Unilever also emphasized that keeping plastic in the circularity contributes to not just environmental protection but job creation for the society as well. It can be said this is the dual-purpose initiative – growing the economy and enhacing the social and environmental development – that businesses are reaching to.
Mindset – the answer for economic challenges
As a catalyst in sustainable development in Vietnam, Unilever expects its initiatives will inspire like-minded businesses and organizations to take action together.
Asked for the concern that resources hinder enterprises from transitioning to impact business model in Vietnnam, Ms. Bich Van opined: "Once we have had the mindset about sustainability, any economic challenges can be overcome."
It is undeniable that owning resources enable us to easily implement a plan or strategy, even actualize a mission. However, those are just necessary condition. The decisive factor of our sustainability efforts is the businesses' commitment and determination to take action and become a subset of the holistic picture of the country's sustainable development.
If the business is resourceful enough to implement sustainability strategy and initiatives themselves, their immediate action is a big motivation for the nation's sustainable development. If the business is still facing challenges to do this, cooperation is the key to open the door of sustainability.
Besides driving its own sustainability strategies, Unilever, thus, strives to inspire and encourge like-minded businesses, organizations and individuals to cooperate and join hands in spreading the sustainability messages and create much greater and broader impact on the economy, society and environment.
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