Talking about the role of business in driving policy forward, she said it was crucial that companies like Unilever “actively engaged” with governments and regulators to create the right market conditions so that corporate sustainability efforts could be scaled up.

“The private sector, governments and NGOs can achieve a lot more if they work together in partnerships,” she asserted.

“We believe that Unilever should play an active role in shaping legislation and regulations that enhance positive social and environmental outcomes.”

In 2011, Unilever created an in-house advocacy team to work with other stakeholders to bring about changes in public policy in key areas of health and sustainability.

“We chose areas where we can make the biggest difference and which are most relevant to achieving the ambitious targets in our [Sustainable Living] Plan,” Klintwork said.

These included influencing greenhouse gas policy to achieve a policy environment which promotes low carbon, improving waste infrastructure to increase recycling rates and enhancing trade policy terms for sustainably sourced agricultural commodities to encourage a more systemic shift towards sustainable agricultural practices.

“We are now actively engaged in these areas and working with a wide range of NGOs, experts, practitioners and intergovernmental institutions,” Klintworth revealed.

“We are also encouraging our companies to engage with local governments and other organisations to help inform public policy.”

She added that the biggest contribution business could make towards tackling climate change is through supporting the call for ambitious reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Klintworth was responding to questions from Unilever’s recent #SustLiving Twitter chat. In June, she revealed that Unilever was drawing up a series of “sustainability ambitions” for each of its brands to help drive social change on a global scale.

Maxine Perella

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