Paul Polman has been CEO of Unilever since January 2009. Under his leadership Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Paul actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable business strategies and drive systemic change. He is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 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.
Paul has been closely involved in global discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and action to tackle climate change. In 2016, Paul was asked by the UN Secretary-General to be a member of the SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Prior to this, Paul served on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on the SDGs on behalf of the private sector. He is a member of the newly formed Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Paul also served on the International Council of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, under former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, whose flagship report ‘New Climate Economy’ demonstrates that lasting economic growth can be achieved at the same time as reducing the immense risk of climate change.
Other roles include: UK Business Ambassador by invitation of the UK Prime Minister, member of the Global Taskforce for Scaling up Nutrition, Counsellor of One Young World. Paul was co-chair of the B-20 Food Security Task Force. Since 2010, Paul has been a non-executive director of the Dow Chemical Company.
In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, Paul has received numerous awards and accolades including WWF’s Duke of Edinburgh Gold Conservation Medal (2013), the Centre for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award (2013), the Rainforest Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), the UN Foundation’s Champion for Global Change Award (2014), the Oslo Business for Peace Award (2015) and the UN Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award (2015). In 2016, he received France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, in recognition of his efforts in galvanising business action on sustainability and for his involvement during the historic 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.
He earned a BBA/BA from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, in 1977 and an MA Economics and MBA finance/international marketing from the University of Cincinnati in 1979. He has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of Universities, including Northumbria, Liverpool, Bath, Exeter, Groningen and the University of Cincinnati.
Paul is married with three children. In a personal capacity, Paul is Chairman of Perkins School for the Blind International Advisory Board and serves as President of the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust.