Jury Report

"All the nominees had such excellent credentials that any one of them could have been the person past the winning post. They have all contributed to the essential issue in the 21st century, that is to move from the 20th century of unsustainable development to a century of sustainable development. This is not only an economic but a moral imperative for those who come after us.


The weight of opinion, however, came down in favour of Mr Paul Polman.


Ever since Mr Polman called a press conference on 15 November 2010 to announce to the world Unilever's sustainable living plan, he has steered the company to carry out this vision.At the time he said 'consumers see food shortages, malnutrition and climate change, and governments are not addressing those problems. Companies that do this will get a competitive advantage. Those that do not will put themselves at risk.'

It was this that led to the well-known phrase of carrying on business as unusual. And that is exactly what Paul Polman has done in steering Unilever. Today the majority of Unilever’s resources is sustainable. He has driven the company's product Pureit with the consequence that millions of people around the world are drinking safe water whereas before they were getting extremely ill or dying from unpurified water.

More than 100 Unilever factories worldwide are using 100% renewable energy, which forms a total of 65% of the total energy use. From a health and hygiene point of view, Unilever helped more than 600 million people to improve their health and personal hygiene. Back in 2010 these goals looked daunting, but Unilever has achieved these not only at the company's source but where it operates internationally. Consequently the weight of opinion fell in favour of Mr Paul Polman.

The jury wishes him every success for the future in all his sustainable endeavours.”
November 9, 2018

Members of the jury:
Mrs Debra Benton
Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Mr Mervyn King
Mrs Melanie Schultz van Haegen