Geneva, Switzerland, 8 January 2018: Mr Sunny Verghese last week officially took up his role as the new Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the global, CEO-led organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to a sustainable world.

As Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Olam International, one of the largest agri-businesses globally, Mr Verghese is the first WBCSD Chair from the agri-sector. He succeeds Mr Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, as WBCSD Chair on 1 January 2018 and will serve a two-year term.

Mr Verghese’s priorities align with WBCSD’s model of transforming the major systems of our economy. By connecting business to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through five key systems – energy and circular economy; cities and mobility; food, land and water; people; and redefining value – this approach simplifies the sometimes complex world of the SDGs and provides a targeted way for business to catalyze and scale business solutions to sustainability challenges.  

Mr Verghese said: “Creating a sustainable future for all is fundamental to our survival. In leading a global agri business operating across 70 markets, I’ve seen intimately how each action we take separately as business leaders can impact millions of people, as well as the planet. The potential is even greater when we come together to take collective positive action.

“I am humbled to have this opportunity to build on Paul’s ground-breaking work in making WBCSD a catalyst for sustainable business. We are now in a unique position to be able to further leverage on the deep cross-sectoral knowledge the Council represents. Together, we will work to solve for the complex, interlinked issues the world faces in the priority areas of energy, food and land use, and cities and mobility, at even greater speed and scale.”

Mr Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and ex-Chair of WBCSD, said, “I am delighted to welcome Sunny Verghese to the position of WBCSD Chair. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Chairman of WBCSD over the past four years, and to see this important institution grow in influence and impact. Sunny’s extensive global experience complements his critical understanding of the strategic imperative for driving sustainability in business, and I am sure that under his leadership WBCSD will continue to thrive. I wish Sunny and the WBCSD team all the very best.”

WBCSD President and CEO Peter Bakker said, “It gives me great pleasure to have the CEO of one of the largest agribusinesses as Chair of the WBCSD. Sunny is an outstanding individual and corporate leader who at every opportunity presses the business case for sustainability. We look forward to leveraging his experience and expertise to lead members in accelerating the transition towards a sustainable future for all”.

In addition to being the first Chair from the agri-sector, Mr Verghese is also the first Asia-based and Asian CEO to be elected to this position.