What is Unilever’s Supplier Climate Promise?

How do Unilever deliver ‘Climate Promise’ with suppliers and procurement partners?

The Unilever Climate Promise is a strategy the company runs alongside its suppliers and procurement ecosystem to help both parties further their business commitments to sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chains. 

The programme was initially launched to support the 56,000 suppliers the company does business with, and is a building block in the goal to achieve zero emissions across its own operations by 2030, and net zero across its value chain by 2039.

The Unilever Climate Promise is an invitation for suppliers to commit to public targets to halve absolute GHG emissions by 2030, to regularly report on progress, and share its emissions and footprint data with Unilever as part of its on-going relationship.

Unilever’s focus on suppliers with the greatest carbon footprint

The company encourages all its suppliers to consider their emissions, but the strategy also includes an approach to focus on the 300 key suppliers that were picked out as having the biggest climate impact.  This was to enhance the sustainability of some, and help others in the earlier stages of the journeys to green targets.  This part of the Unilever Climate Programme was ;launched to support those procurement partners with collaborative assistance to create the biggest impact possible.  

The programme began with 35 companies in a pilot project, before being expanded to 300 suppliers who contribute the most to Unilever’s overall carbon footprint.  The initial group of suppliers were able to build their climate knowledge and develop expert capabilities to calculate and share their GHG emissions data.

By signing up to Unilever’s Climate Promise, its suppliers commit themselves to three key criteria.

  • Set a Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) aligned target
  • Publicly report progress towards meeting this target
  • Share product level GHG emissions footprint data with Unilever

Ahead of COP28 Unilever made a public statement that they were calling on Governments to increase its ambition in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“We’ve been working hard to understand the key levers for reducing our carbon footprint, and are now engaging suppliers and brands to accelerate emissions reduction,” says Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “But we also need governments to create the enabling environment for change through policies that support a sustainable future. This will help us move further, faster towards achieving net zero by 2039.”

Unilever Brands (Credit: Unilever)

Unilever’s Partner with Purpose Programme 

The promise is one of several strategies running at the company to work closely with its procurement network, such as Unilever’s Partner with Purpose Programme.

The Unilever Partner with Purpose programme aims to take purpose-led partnerships to inspire industry-leading innovations, and aid sustainability efforts.  It was first launched in 2020 and is an evolution in the way the company partners to continually respond to new and emerging consumer trends. They are using it to get closer to its partners by encouraging more responsible and transparent innovation to deliver on its ambitious commitments and generate mutual growth.

“The way we partner allows us to continually respond to emerging consumer trends. It’s about encouraging responsible and transparent innovation to deliver on our ambitious sustainability commitments and generate mutual growth,” explains Chief Procurement Officer, Willem Uijen. “We’re continually expanding the programme with new partners and increasing its scope with existing partners.”

The UPWP programme is designed to deliver against Unilever’s three Compass beliefs: Brands with purpose grow, People with purpose thrive and Companies with purpose last.


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