The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has announced that Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, will be honored with the Cannes LionHeart Award in recognition of his commitment to building sustainability into the heart of Unilever’s operations.
Polman took over as Unilever CEO in 2009, and since then has led an ambitious plan to decouple the FMCG company’s growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Introduced in 2014, the Cannes LionHeart is an honorary award, presented to an individual who has innovatively harnessed commercial brand power to make a significant and positive difference to people or the planet. Philip Thomas, CEO, Ascential Events and chairman-elect, Cannes Lions, said, “Paul’s commitment to long-term, sustainable business growth is an inspiration for other business leaders. Paul has made Unilever a shining example of what can be achieved when creativity and innovation are integrated into business. Add to this his work with the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals and Unilever’s co-founding of the Unstereotype Alliance, it’s clear that Paul is the obvious recipient for this year’s LionHeart award.”
Polman actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable, long-term business strategies and drive systemic change. He is incoming chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of the B Team and sits on the Board of the UN Global Compact and the Consumer Goods Forum, where he co-chairs the Sustainability Committee. He played a significant role first in developing the Sustainable Development Goals, and now in promoting action towards their delivery as a member of the SDG Advocacy Group. His commitment to the SDGs inspired him and others to establish the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, whose flagship report, ‘Better Business, Better World’, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the Goals. Polman is also a member of the recently launched Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism Project, and a counselor of One Young World.
Commenting on the award, Polman said: “It is a great honor to receive the Cannes LionHeart Award, recognizing Unilever’s work to pioneer responsible business. It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainable, purpose-led growth is the best way to meet the long-term needs of consumers and society. Brands with purpose are at the heart of our approach, and to be recognized by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a tribute to the creativity, drive and passion of all our Unilever teams around the world.”
Polman will be presented with the award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on the night of Friday, June 22.