Unilever emerges top in 2022 Sustainability Leaders Survey

GLOBAL – British multinational consumer goods company, Unilever, has for the 12th consecutive year emerged as the world’s most sustainable business, according to a survey by GlobeScan and The SustainAbility Institute by ERM.

Unilever was feted in 2022 for showing the greatest commitment to integrating sustainability into their business strategies.

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The top 11 (each named by at least 3 percent of expert respondents) are similar to that of 2021, including Unilever, Patagonia, Natura &Co, IKEA, Microsoft, Interface, Ørsted, Tesla, Danone, Google, and Nestlé.

Unilever topped by receiving 31% of experts’ responses that the company is integrating sustainability into its business strategy while Danone and Nestle received 3%.

The survey said companies are increasingly considered leaders for putting sustainability at the core of their business models and strategies, and for providing evidence and updates on the impacts and results of their sustainability initiatives.

Accordingly, purpose and goals remain important, but experts are increasingly looking for evidence of integration and action.

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The survey group highlighted that the 2022 survey was completed between March 14 and May 1 by more than 700 sustainability experts from over 70 countries.

No change was observed in the top 11 (each named by at least 3 percent of expert respondents) and the list is similar to that of 2021.

Patagonia, Natura &Co, IKEA, Microsoft, Interface, Ørsted, Tesla, Danone, Google, and Nestlé maintained their position in the listing.

Report findings however showed that respondents increasingly recognized institutional actors, including both corporations and NGOs, for their actions and not just for their words and aspirations.

Additionally, the respondents less frequently mentioned ambitious targets and commitments, impressive ambitions, or high-profile executive leadership as drivers of recognized sustainability leadership, the survey group revealed.

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Among many reasons that led respondents to choose Unilever include its actions to follow commitments, having achieved measurable success on both environmental and social issues, its core business staying aligned with sustainability, and incorporating ocean plastic into its business strategy.

The key findings of the survey include the perceived urgency of climate change has increased compared to last year, with sustainability experts now almost unanimously saying climate change is urgent as well as Energy security which is also growing.

Also, the National governments, the private sector, and multi-sectoral partnerships are still expected to lead the sustainable development agenda.

World Wildlife Fund continues to dominate in recognition of sustainability leadership among NGOs, almost all sectors are viewed by experts as performing poorly in transitioning to sustainability, and recognized leadership is increasingly driven by action and impact, were also stated.

Moreover, the findings extended to the duo highlighting that there is greater diversity among the companies cited as regional corporate sustainability leaders, and collaboration and innovation are the main characteristics perceived to be driving NGO leadership in sustainable development.

Given the ongoing war in Ukraine at the time of fielding this survey, many experts believe that focus might shift away from sustainability in the short term, just as they also believe that the war will encourage the transition to renewable energy in the long term, the survey conductors said.

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