Paul Polman

Business Leader, Campaigner, Co-Author Of "Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive By Giving More Than They Take", a Financial Times Business Book of the Year. #3 Thinkers50.

Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to tackle climate change and inequality. As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), he demonstrated that business can profit through purpose, delivering shareholder returns of 290% while the company consistently ranked 1st in the world for sustainability. Today he works across a range of organisations to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which he helped develop. 

Q: What do you see as the most pressing issue(s) in reshaping the global food system?

The need for a clear shared vision and human willpower.
Never ever have we been so forewarned about what is going to happen but also forearmed with the tools to do something about it. Yet, we seem paralyzed at times. Nature-positive, people-positive, and climate-positive action is what we should aspire to and that starts with people in positions of influence taking ownership of the problem beyond their silos and driving higher levels of ambition. Governments and companies need to align their vision on challenges and opportunities.
The system is broken and needs urgent repair, if we are to feed the world in a sustainable and equitable way for generations to come. We cannot achieve the SDGs without drastically changing our food systems.

Q: What would you like to achieve by being a member of the Food Planet Prize Jury?

We need to catalyze the big ideas to transform our food systems and scale them with speed to achieve the impact needed. The Food Planet Prize can help accelerate the implementation of some of the smartest ideas for people and the planet.

Q: What unique experiences or knowledge do you bring to the jury?

Having run Unilever – one of the biggest food companies – for over a decade, having helped develop the SDGs, and now chairing the Food and Land-use coalition amongst other things, I am convinced that improving our food systems is one of the biggest opportunities to ensure harmony between people and planet earth. I hope to bring in more than the voice of the private sector, as it ultimately boils down to helping the ones left behind.

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