Unilever gets young people switched on to sustainability

25/06/2013 - Unilever has joined forces with Net Impact to run a series of collaborative events with young adults around the world to encourage the next generation of sustainable business leaders.

sustainability speaker

Business means sustainability

The events aim to inspire young people to realise that business can be a force for good and invite them to think about how they can change the world through the business they create or join through a mixture of presentations from business leaders and breakout sessions to discuss ideas.

At the end of the event, students can choose to get involved by fuelling the discussion on social media and joining their local Net Impact chapter through Netimpact.org.

Net Impact is a non-profit organisation which aims to empower a new generation to create positive social and environmental change within and beyond business.

A force for change

The partnership will help Unilever meet its Sustainable Living Plan goals by using the power of business to create a more sustainable world.

Karen Hamilton, VP Sustainable Business at Unilever, says: “We want to seed and support a “movement” where young people are leading the change so that businesses are not only being ‘less of a problem’ but are an actual force for good and part of the solution.

“That’s what Net Impact and Unilever’s partnership is all about—to get more and more leaders committed to building new businesses with sustainability at their core, or joining existing businesses and leading change from within.”

London launch

The first pilot event took place at London’s Imperial College in May, with speakers from Unilever, sustainable car firm Riversimple and Wonderbag, a heat retention bag designed to save 30% of the energy used when cooking.

Jodie Lahon, an MSc student who attended the event says: “Listening to the speakers tonight there was an overwhelming message to be brave and courageous so I’m going to try to take that to heart a little bit more. What I would say to people who don’t believe that businesses have a responsibility to drive change, the blunt answer is you’re wrong. The world is changing, the system’s changing and they need to wake up.”

Further sessions are now planned at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Columbia University in New York, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderbad. These pilot events will then be used to develop a repeatable and scalable model to roll out to around 30 universities globally in 2014.

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