Environmental Report and Summary Social Review 2003

  • 24-May-2004
Time period
  • January 2003  –  December 2003
  • In Unilever we are guided by a clear set of values and standards that governs the way we do business around the world. They are set out in our Corporate Purpose and Code of Business Principles. In 2001 we revised the Code, taking into account evolving global awareness on corporate citizenship, including the Global Compact.

    Our progress in living out these values is described in our Environmental Report and Summary Social Review, published in conjunction with our 2003 Annual Report. These publications summarise our economic, social and environmental performance. Both reports act as signposts to further information and case studies on our website - see http://www.unilever.com/environmentsociety.

    We believe the very business of "doing business" in a responsible way has a positive social impact. We create and share wealth, invest in local economies, develop people''s skills and spread expertise across borders.

    As a global company we aim to play our part in addressing global social and environmental concerns, such as micro-nutrient deficiency, health and hygiene, water quality and sustainable agriculture. But we do not believe it is practical to address these concerns only at a global level. Or that companies such as ours can make a difference without working in partnership with others.

    That is why, as a multi-local multinational, we tackle global concerns with local actions and work in partnership with local agencies, governments and non-governmental organisations.

    Unilever''s reports provide an update on our progress in listening and learning from our consumers and our other stakeholders, as we strive to be both a successful business and a responsible corporate citizen. They contain an overview of our policies and performance, and some examples of our social and environmental partnerships in action.

    The Environment Report describes in brief how we manage the environmental dimension of our activities. It includes an overview of our environmental performance in our factories in 2003, and progress on our sustainability initiatives in agriculture, fish and water. For example, we have now published sustainability guidelines for all our key crops and at the end of 2003 over half our fish came from sustainable sources.

    In 2003 we also looked more carefully at three additional areas where felt we could further develop our contribution to sustainable development. They are: connecting with the consumer on environmental care; leveraging our eco-manufacturing skills across the wider supply chain; and embedding environmental sustainability in our decision-making. Progress in all these areas will be reported upon in future reports.

    The Summary Social Review provides performance data where we have group-wide data, and sets out our approach to issues such as ensuring consumer safety, our journey to diversity, and our respect for human rights. We also touch on some of our external partnerships from the Global Compact through to local community initiatives.

    Progress in 2003 included setting out more clearly how we apply our business principles to the marketing of foods and beverages, including principles for advertising to children. We worked on ways to achieve greater transparency in our social and environmental standards in the supply chains, and we are extending our "ethics hotline to cover all our business.

    Also in the Summary Review we look at some of the issues currently under debate in our industry sectors, and how we are approaching them. These cover topics as diverse as nutrition, health and hygiene, and the internationalisation of business. Our intention in this summary report is to focus on a few key issues rather than trying to cover the whole terrain of social responsibility.

    More information can be found online at http://www.unilever.com/environmentsociety.


    In both the Environment Report and the Summary Social Review, we highlight where progress has been made and where there is more to do.

    In the Environment Report we set out goals for future progress, including looking for ways to improve environmental data collection and validation. We intend to report on these targets in our next Environment Report, planned for 2005.

    During 2004 we are working to implement group-wide key performance indicators on social responsibility, which will feed into a group-wide social review in 2005. We plan to increase our participation in social partnerships, including local partnerships and through the Global Compact framework.

    We will continue to listen to and learn from our stakeholders, and plan to develop and expand our reporting on our website in order to keep these audiences informed of progress. Please visit http://www.unilever.com/environmentsociety for the latest information.

Principles covered
  • Principle 1 - Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights
  • Principle 2 - Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses
  • Principle 3 - Businesses should uphold freedom of association & effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
  • Principle 4 - The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour
  • Principle 5 - The effective abolition of child labour
  • Principle 6 - Eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation
  • Principle 7 - Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • Principle 8 - Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Principle 9 - Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies
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