The Unilever Environment Group focused pretty tightly on basic environmental housekeeping matters and on some big ‘stewardship challenges’ – particularly the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
In those days, Bird’s Eye was still a Unilever brand and had formed a partnership with WWF to address the massive challenge of overfishing around the world. ‘What’s the point of having a frozen fish business if there aren’t going to be any fish in the sea?’ was the call-to-arms of Bird’s Eye’s senior managers at the time.
This really was ground-breaking, and for all its ups and downs, the MSC is today an outstanding success story, giving consumers reliable information about the sustainability of the fisheries from which their cod or tuna or toothfish has been sourced.
The whole social agenda in Unilever was dealt with completely separately at that time, but eventually the integrated concept of sustainable development started to get a lot more traction across the company. It led to the establishment of the Unilever Sustainable Development Group, which in turn morphed into the Advisory Council for the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan in 2010.