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Interview with Nicola Kimm, 
Head of Sustainability, Environment, Health & Safety


Nicola Kimm has been instrumental in leading Philips Lighting to becoming one of the world’s most sustainable companies. As she spearheads the drive towards 2020 with our Brighter Lives, Better World campaign, she’s adamant about never losing sight of the fact that her work is inherently social – it’s about improving the lives of individuals and communities as well as preserving our environment so that we can all lead better lives. 

What do you see as the key global trends driving our sustainability goals?

There are three megatrends driving our business. The first, of course, is population growth. The world population is currently at about 7.5 billion and experts estimate it’ll reach 9 billion by 2038. And with that comes changing demographics – increasing urbanization means more and more people will live in cities in the future. The second megatrend is resource constraints; we will need more material resources to support our increasing population. The last global trend is climate change. More people means more energy use, resulting in increased C02 emissions. We have a unique opportunity to address these megatrends with our business and meet future societal needs. 

How do these trends link to our business? 

As a key player in the low carbon economy we are mitigating climate change through the shift to LED. We’re accelerating the shift to LEDs worldwide and aim to sell deliver two billion LED lamps and luminaires by 2020. Our goal for 2017 is one billion and at the end of 2016, we had already achieved 628 million LED s lamps and luminaires sold delivered. Equally important, we are also walking the talk, and have made a strong commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020.


On the materials side, we’re leading the transition towards a circular economy by decoupling economic growth from increased use of material resources. How can we design things smarter and help society use resources in a better and more efficient way? We’re doing that through the design of our products but also through our business models.

Our lighting also helps produce more food and clean water for the growing, more urban population such as in city farming or water purification.  


We’re driving down our operational carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency in our manufacturing and employing smarter logistics. We’re making use of less air freight and reducing business travel. And in our supply chain, we’re working to reduce our carbon footprint by engaging with suppliers through the carbon disclosure project. 

What are the company’s short-term and long-term sustainability goals?

One thing that sets Philips Lighting apart is that we’ve always had five-year sustainability programs. With making short-to-mid-term goals, we drive our programs, tracking progress on a quarterly basis.   As part of our Brighter Lives, Better World program, we’re currently engaging all of our employees, our customers and our supply chain to reach really ambitious goals. In just three short years from now, we’ve committed to zero waste to landfill for all our factories. And we’re quickly approaching our goal of being completely carbon-neutral by 2020. We also expect that by 2020, sustainable products, systems and services will contribute 80% of our revenues. 


If you look at our program, the better world part is about reducing environmental impact and the brighter lives part is about improving people’s well-being throughout the value chain. For example, to help improve the sustainability performance of our supply chain we’ve conducted over 1200 audits and reached about 69,000 people in our supply chain to teach them about working conditions such as factory hygiene, safety, and overtime pay. And we are engaging our employees on safety. Over the last year, we’ve reduced incidents by 24% and we have a target to go down by about half by 2020 by implementing injury prevention programs. 


If you think of brighter lives in terms of our products, it’s about different social elements where we can contribute to society such as human-centric lighting. That means looking at ideas such as how light influences our well-being – for instance,  if you tune light to circadian rhythms, can we help people have less sick days, better concentration at school or help them heal better in hospitals?   We’re also striving to improve access to light. We want to help the one billion people living in light poverty by giving them access to solar LED light. 



Dr. Nicola Kimm is the Global Head of Sustainability, Environment, Health & Safety for Philips Lighting. She develops and drives initiatives to embed sustainability throughout the organization and engages stakeholders to create positive social and environmental impact. Her organization is responsible for sustainability strategy & reporting, EHS, sustainable design, and circular economy. Previously, she headed sustainability in the chemicals and FMCG sectors and has held various roles in operations, innovation and communications in Europe, Asia and North America. She holds a PhD in Economics and Business Engineering, MSc and BSc degrees in Chemical Engineering, and a BSc in Ecology. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of this interview, where Nicola Kimm will discuss key enablers helping us to reach our sustainability goals, our achievements so far, and her personal take on going green.