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TED@Unilever imagines a brighter future. Inspiring words from this event

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The stage at TED@Unilever. Photo: Ryan Lash

The stage at TED@Unilever. Photo: Ryan Lash

From healthy food projects to public health campaigns, TED@Unilever highlighted ideas to inspire leaders at every level. At this TED Institute event, which showcased speakers from both inside and outside the wellness company, the focus was on what corporations and individuals can do to initiate change.

Below, some words from each of the TED@Unilever talks: 

“In most companies, the sustainability group is separate from the marketing team, which is separate from the communications team. Why? If we’re going to make sustainable living commonplace, we need to engage scale … When someone asks, ‘What is the case for sustainability?’ I ask, ‘Well, what is the case for the alternative?’” —Keith Weed, Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

“The greatest innovations happen when solving the most basic problems. At Next Drop, our vision is to create a world where everyone has access to basic resources like water — thanks to a live, human-powered smart grid. All it takes is a mobile phone.” —Anu Sridharan, Next Drop cofounder

“Around the world, diarrhea is the second largest killer of children under 5. We thought this was a hardware issue — that the solution was about getting people toilets. We were wrong. It’s about public health education.”  —John Kluge Jr., Toilet Hackers cofounder

“What’s the world’s best invention in public health? Soap. Handwashing can save lives. And brands have a responsibility to do good in the places where they are sold.” —Myriam Sidibe, Global Social Mission Director for Lifebuoy soap 

“When we take the time to see the world as kids do, one thing stands out: a child’s overwhelming desire to learn. How do we help kids learn to take control of their lives to create bright futures?” —Richard Neville, founder and filmmaker

Unilever factories are challenged to create zero waste to landfill. The Waraqa Centre is one project that’s helping them do that — by training community members in ways to re-craft packaging byproducts into new, salable products.” —Rania Bahaa, Environmental Specialist at Unilever Mashreq in Egypt

Structural change and climate change are two transformations we face over the next few decades that will determine whether we face the best of centuries or the worst of centuries. Fortunately, good decisions can bring quick results. If we do the first one well [the structural change], then the second one [climate change] will become much easier.” —Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change and former Chief Economist of Climate Change 

“Talking about body image improvement isn’t enough on its own. We also have to act and educate for body confidence. The best programs out there address six core themes: family, friends and relationships; teasing and bullying; talking about appearance; media and celebrity culture; competing and comparing looks; and respecting and looking after ourselves. Improving girls’ body image requires all of us to be role models.” —Meaghan Ramsey, global director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project at Unilever in London

Anu Sridharan inspired at TED@Unilever. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

Anu Sridharan inspired at TED@Unilever. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

We need to tackle our largest challenges first. On way to start tackling sustainability is by asking, ‘What’s your heresy? How will you challenge how you live and do business?’” —Andrew Winston, strategist and author of The Big Pivot

“While creating H2H, Help to Haiti, I learned many lessons, including these: 1) When you start doing something good, you meet good people along the way. 2) Shut up and listen. What are the priorities of the people you’re trying to help?” —Viviana Alvarez, Unilever Global Foundation Ambassador and co-founder of H2H, Help to Haiti 

“My grandfather’s grandfather and his young bride came to Iowa with all their worldly possessions. Today, computers are as much a part of the modern farm as horses were to my grandfather’s. Innovation continues to happen on farms, every day.” —Mark Jackson, CEO of Jackson Farms LS, Inc.

“Cooking isn’t just about food — it’s about memory and connection. We have to find the path back to the kitchen. We need to go back to the basics and grow some of what we eat. Let’s reclaim the kitchen.” —Einav Gefen, lead Corporate Chef at Unilever’s North America kitchens 

How will we solve the food challenge going forward? No one company can do it. It really is about the food system working together. Together, man can and must prevent famine in the future.” —Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the Walmart US Grocery Division 

Do you know where your next meal is coming from? Me too. Imagine if you didn’t. Now know that 46 million people in the U.S. are living in poverty today. At Greyston Bakery, we provide a stable job for ex-convicts and others in need of a hand up. How will you help, too?” —Mike Brady, Greyston Bakery President and CEO

“I wish the bakery could help everybody. They empower people every day. I still have friends in the streets selling drugs. If you’re in a position to help, think about the open hiring process. Not only does it change lives, it helps your company look good.” —Dion Drew, Greyston Bakery worker

“We can create a brighter world by 2050 if we make sustainable living commonplace. We can make transformative progress. That’s why we’re all here.” —Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever’s North America cluster

The audience on its feet after Dion Drew's talk. Photo: Ryan Lash

The audience on its feet after Dion Drew’s talk. Photo: Ryan Lash