Unilever - Sustainable development creates momentum for growth

January 29, 2018 | 13:38
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When the concept of corporate social responsibility became yesterday’s story and is replaced by the trend of sustainable development, Unilever has become the model of an enterprise pioneering a sustainable business model aiming at contribution to the community and environment protection accompanied with business growth goals. Thanh Ngoc reports.
Meeting in celebration of the "World Toilet Day 2017", part of the Germ-free Toilet Journey initiated by Unilever in corporation with the Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Women’s Union

Sustainable development - the inevitable trend among business community

According to the latest UN report, the world’s population is 7.3 billion. This number will rise to 9.7 billion people by 2050. It means the world’s resources will be increasingly scared and they may not be able to meet the rising demand. Challenges in health, hygiene, sanitation, clean water, nutrition, sustainable sources, and climate change are becoming perceptible.

Vietnam is also facing such challenges in ensuring the goal of improving livelihoods and growing the economy while protecting the environment and responding to climate change. Upon the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vietnam has affirmed its vision and determination to pursue a sustainable development path by fostering the focus on resources from both public and private sectors.

According to the “Better Business, Better World” report published by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, by 2030, sustainable business opportunities, aiming to achieve global goals, can create a business market worth at least $12 trillion, generate 380 million more jobs on global scale - of which almost 90 per cent are in developing countries, open many growth opportunities for businesses which are able to grasp and pioneer the trend of sustainable business. Multinational companies that have a great influence on global consumption habits hold the greater responsibility for the sake of the community and also hold a great opportunity for growth.

In Vietnam, since 2010, as a founding member, Unilever has been actively supporting the activities of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) to promote the participation and the active role of the corporate community in implementing the sustainable development of the country. This is a reliable bridge between government agencies and the business sector in building and implementing many national policies and programmes related to sustainable development, competitiveness enhancement, green growth and adaptation to climate change.

Since 2016, VBCSD has coordinated with relevant ministries to develop the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) as the benchmark for Top Sustainable Business Award to rank and honour Vietnamese businesses which effectively implement the sustainable development model and promoting the business community in Vietnam to apply and replicate the model. Unilever Vietnam, for two consecutive years, was honoured in the top 10 most sustainable businesses in this ranking. This can be attributed to the company’s pioneering sustainable development policies.

Based on the global corporate’s motto, Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) is the company’s blueprint for sustainable business, setting out three big goals by 2020: improving health and well-being for more than 25 million people in Vietnam; reducing environmental impact associated with the making and use of Unilever products; and enhancing livelihoods for millions of people in Vietnam as Unilever grows its business.

USLP is placed at the heart of the business model and is the core of all what Unilever does. According to Nguyen Thi Bich Van, chairperson of Unilever Vietnam, upon pursuing sustainability, businesses can save costs by optimising resources, reduce risks, promote growth, attract and retain talents, enhancing the company's reputation. Equally important, through USLP, Unilever will join hands to address social and environmental issues, and deliver its commitment of “improving livelihoods for millions of Vietnamese people.”


- Unilever has improved health and hygiene for 20.5 million people through programmes on handwashing, safe drinking water, oral health, sanitation and nutrition.

- Comfort One Rinse has reached 33.6 million of households nationwide, helping them to save 636 million of cubic metres of water since 2011

- The company has reduced 99 per cent of CO2 emission and 42 per cent of water consumption per tonne of production since 2011. It has committed to ensure 100 per cent plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

- All Unilever manufacturing sites send zero waste to landfill.

- Unilever has helped nearly 45,000 households access to the micro finance loans worth VND300 billion ($13.64 million to start small businesses, increasing incomes and living conditions, and providing training on capability building and nutrition education for nearly 1.3 million women.

- Unilever has been honoured with the Top 10 Sustainable Business Award 2017 organised by VCCI’s VBCSD in co-operation with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour.

Sustainable development – the commitment to continuously make Vietnamese lives better

From the early days of ULSP implementation, to achieve ambitious social goals, Unilever understands that a business cannot do it alone but needs to collaborate with the Vietnamese government, social organisations, partners, customers and consumers. Through long-term strategic public-private partnerships with governmental agencies, Unilever has contributed to solving urgent issues of hygiene, clean water, nutrition, health and enhancing livelihoods for local people.

One of the most highlighted examples is the Vim’s “Germ-free Toilet Journey” in co-operation with the Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU). Through this programme, Unilever is committed to implement a communication campaign to improve sanitation for 10 million Vietnamese people by 2020. By the end of 2017, the campaign has reached 4.5 million people via environmental sanitation communication to raise awareness and supported thousands of households to build clean, hygienic toilets.

Towards the improvement of rural sanitation, through the second phase of the Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid project, Unilever has collaborated with VWU, and East Meets West to encourage over 17,000 rural households in five provinces namely Hoa Binh, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Ben Tre, and Tra Vinh to use and maintain hygienic latrines in 2017.

“Vim Germ-free Toilet Journey” is one of the initiatives within the framework of the programme “For a healthier Vietnam”. By late 2017, the programme has helped improve the health and hygiene for 20.5 million Vietnamese people by changing their handwashing behaviour, education on oral care, and sanitation improvement.

Accomplishing the commitment of improving the quality of life for women, Unilever has launched the program “Empowering Women through business development and health education” in collaboration with VWU. The programme has helped nearly 45,000 poor households access micro finance loan worth VND300 billion ($13.64 million) in total, and has provided training on capability building, nutrition and health education for nearly 1.3 million women nationwide. In addition, under long-term strategic partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Unilever has joined hands to implement the new Rural Development Programme in more than 1,000 villages nationwide. These encouraging accomplishments have shown Unilever’s strong determination to achieve its USLP goals which are in line with the UN’s SDGs on health, hygiene and clean water, poverty alleviation, education and so on.

Unilever has been demonstrating itself as a pioneering corporate that successfully implements a sustainable business model in terms of business growth, environmental protection and social contribution to become the most admired foreign company in Vietnam, committed to improve the livelihoods for millions of Vietnamese people.

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