Unilever had painted itself into a corner.
After the global consumer goods company published its Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan laying out ambitious sustainability goals, company leaders realized meeting those goals was going to be tough. So they got creative.
Working with GlobeScan, they created an online collaboration platform with one clear purpose – to enable Unilever to hit its sustainability targets for 2020. “We can’t solve these issues on our own,” explained Miguel Pestana, VP Global External Affairs, “We need to engage with civil society, companies, government and other key stakeholders. It’s about developing new models of collaboration.”
The response was huge: More than 2,200 sustainability leaders and experts, representing 77 countries, registered for the first Unilever Sustainable Living Lab, a 24-hour live, online, moderated dialogue that ran from April 25th to 26th. Their task: Collaborate and co-create ideas and solutions for moving to the next level in sustainable living.
Some described the Lab, designed by Unilever and GlobeScan in partnership with Fenton Communications, as a ‘crowdsourcing’ solution to sustainability. But, as with Unilever’s Open Innovation platform, it was important to have the right ‘crowd’ interacting. Therefore, participation in the event was by invitation only, to opinion leaders identified by GlobeScan and Unilever.
The canvas was broad, with discussions held across four topics, each theme representing a different component of the value chain: sustainable sourcing; sustainable production and distribution; consumer behavior change; recycling and waste. Along with colleagues at SustainAbility, GlobeScan moderated the discussions, with input from 80 invited senior-level guest contributors. Over 100 Unilever managers from across the business, from R&D, procurement, marketing, and customer development, also participated at key points in the Lab discussions.
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