Net Zero Festival: In conversation with Paul Polman - Climate action in a post-Covid world

BusinessGreen staff
clock • 1 min read

VIDEO: Former Unilever CEO offers his characteristically sage wisdom on corporate sustainability in the wake of Covid-19 in a wide-ranging interview with Gavin Esler

In over a decade as CEO of consumer goods giant Unilever, Paul Polman became one of the most vocal advocates for a new form of purpose-driven capitalism.

He set some of the most ambitious sustainability targets ever proposed by a multinational, and became a high profile backed of both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The approach was more than vindicated, as sales of products with green credentials soared and hundreds of other businesses began to emulate the wide-ranging approach to sustainability that Unilever had pioneered.

Since leaving the company last year, Polman has set up a new sustainabiluty venture and campaign group Imagine, which is working to mobilise business leaders to accelerate action on tackling climate change and gobal inequality. He has also chaired the International Chamber of Commerce and B-Team, is a board member of the Saїd Business School, and is vice-chair of the UN Global Compact.

At BusinessGreen's recent Net Zero Festival, Polman joined host Gavin Esler for a fascinating, wide-ranging discussion that covered his career in business, global climate politics, and the growing advocacy role for business leaders, as he offered his characteristically sage wisdom on corporate sustainability learned from his many years leading from the top. As he says in the interview - which can be watched in full above - it is "too late to be pessimistic" about combatting the world's climate and biodiversity crises.

All of the panel debates, keynote speeches, and presentations from the world's first Net Zero Festival - which took place over three days from 30 September featuring hundreds of top speakers from business, politics and academia - are now available to watch again on demand through the Net Zero Festival website.

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