The FINANCIAL -- On April 20, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Bola Adesola and Paul Polman to serve as new Vice-Chairs of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact.
Adesola and Polman succeed out-going Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact Board, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Former Chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies and of Anglo American plc. In an announcement made today, the Secretary-General extended his appreciation to Sir Mark for serving in the position for the past ten years and guiding the UN Global Compact into a new era.
Adesola and Polman previously served on the UN Global Compact Board, and bring significant expertise to the role from their wealth of experience in the private sector, the corporate sustainability space and specifically with the UN Global Compact itself, according to the UN Global Compact.
Adesola has served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd since 2011. She has over 25 years of banking experience, including at First Bank of Nigeria and at Citibank. Adesola is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School, and she also holds a Law degree from the University of Buckingham.
Polman has served as Chief Executive Officer of Unilever since 2009. Prior to joining Unilever, he worked at Nestlé S.A. and at Proctor and Gamble, where he spent 26 years. Polman holds degrees from the University of Groningen and the University of Cincinnati.
Adesola and Polman have been long-standing supporters of the UN Global Compact, and were both featured at UN Global Compact events held during the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly in 2017.
In her address to the United Nations Private Sector Forum on 18 September, Adesola said, “I urge the companies present here to look at your businesses, map them to the SDGs, and then see how you can enhance those activities and play to your strengths, because, I think, it’s all about impact, and everything we do counts — whether it’s paper, whether it’s light — they all count.”
Speaking to attendees of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on 21 September, Polman remarked, “Business cannot be a bystander in a system that created it in the first place… In implementing the SDGs, as in any change process, there will be bottlenecks, setbacks, cynics, skeptics. It takes courageous leadership. That’s where the breakthrough comes from: from people who understand that putting the interests of others ahead of their own is actually in their own self-interest.”
The UN Global Compact Board has a vital role to play in shaping the strategy and policy of the initiative, which acts as the United Nations flagship for responsible business action. Designed as a multi-stakeholder body, the Board provides ongoing strategic and policy advice for the initiative. Board members are considered champions who are willing and able to advance the mission of the UN Global Compact to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want. They act in a personal, honorary and unpaid capacity.
Secretary-General António Guterres serves as Chair of the UN Global Compact Board, having assumed the role in conjunction with his appointment as Secretary-General in 2017 following the tenure of Ban Ki-moon. Going forward, he will work closely with Adesola and Polman, along with UN Global Compact CEO & Executive Director Lise Kingo, as they lead the UN Global Compact — the entry point for business within the broader United Nations system and the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.