Shared Interests in the SDGs: Business Makes It Happen at UNGA72 USCIB Side Event

Left to Right: Kyra Kaszynski, Deloitte; Elliott Harris, UNEP New York Office; Chantal Line Carpentier, UNCTAD NY Office; Norine Kennedy, USCIB

USCIB held a side event on September 22 at the end of the UN General Assembly opening week for its members, government and UN representatives on “Shared Interests in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s): Business Makes It Happen,” hosted by USCIB member Pfizer.  The objective of this meeting, chaired by Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, who also serves as USCIB board member and sustainability “champion,” was to explore the opportunities for improved transparency and cooperation in the United Nations that would scale up cooperation and partnership with U.S. business to deliver the SDG’s.

In his opening comments, Nielsen stated that the United Nations is part of the infrastructure that U.S. business depends on in commercial activity around the world, and looks to the U.S. government to work with U.S. companies for outcomes that reflect good governance and advance economic benefits both overseas and domestically. “Business understands the SDG imperative of ‘No one left behind’ to mean ‘everyone must get involved to make a difference, including business,’” he said.

Side event presenters, Diane McMahon of Bechtel and Kyra Kacszinski of Deloitte reviewed the findings of USCIB Expert Roundtables on Data Analytics for the SDG’s, and on Ingredients for Impact in SDG Public Private Partnerships (see other articles in this special edition newsletter for more information).

Norine Kennedy, who leads USCIB’s work on the SDG’s, discussed the pivotal role that the private sector has played in supporting UN sustainable development work, including the climate agreement and the SDG’s, and the recognized role that business has in the International Labor Organization (ILO) and in the Financing for Development process, among others.  These integrated inter-actions have created ambitious and widely accepted sustainable development initiatives that continue to move ahead with vigorous U.S. business support, as evidenced in the USCIB Businessfor2030 web platform.

These positive examples and UN reform proposals to embed the UN Agenda for 2030 across UN programs and priorities, and make UN discussions more inclusive and transparent to the public, including the private sector, are indications of willingness for transparent and constructive dialogue and action.  Kennedy suggested 3 steps towards enhanced business engagement as part of that reform:

  • Involve recognized business community organizations throughout UN deliberations to identify and assess issues, provide technical expertise, inform deliberations and serve as a resource for implementation
  • Favor multi-sectoral discussions, in combination with sectoral discussions
  • Pursue “shared interest” models that open doors to all business sectors to work transparently and constructively with the UN, based on good governance.

Discussants from UNCTAD, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA) added their views on how to help move ahead to tap business resources.  Elliott Harris of UNEP reminded the meeting about the differences in language, time frame and scale between public and private sector expectations and contributions.  While the United Nations sees a very big picture, the private sector focuses on direct and near term action.  He encouraged USCIB to seek ways to build bridges between those points of view as part of its ongoing work to enhance business involvement and contribution on the SDG’s.  Chantal Line Carpentier  of UNCTAD stated that if UN discussions don’t bring in private sector, it will be extremely difficult to frame the right policies and market actions.  Some fear the perception that UN development work is being “privatized,” and she encouraged USCIB to prioritize clear public-private partnership guidance that reflects the lead role of governments and IGO’s, in which business works to support and leverage resources for common benefit, rather than solely for private profit.

Thomas Gass, assistant secretary general of the DESA concluded the meeting with reflections about the challenges and opportunities ahead.  The SDGs are a declaration of interdependence, he said, that relies on the private sector along with other societal partners.  Gass warned against the SDG’s becoming an empty concept; U.S. business is critical to keep the SDGs moving through innovation and partnership.  He stated that sustainability has to be placed in national contexts, especially those of the least developed countries that cannot cope with negative ecological impacts of larger and wealthier nations, and welcomed USCIB’s focus on analyzing and framing data for analysis and prioritized SDG action as a key contribution in that regard.

USCIB will follow further SDG-related deliberations in this year’s UN General Assembly, working closely with the International Chamber of Commerce and International Organization of Employers, to advocate for transparent and inclusive business involvement.  Although the Business Makes It Happen side event marked the end of the UNGA high level sessions, USCIB regards its interactions and recommendations as a starting point to continue developing member ideas and action by a full range of U.S. business sectors to strengthen international cooperation on the SDGs as a platform to spread prosperity and opportunity around the world and in the U.S.

Please contact Norine Kennedy or Gabriella Herzog to find out more about USCIB’s positions on SDGs and the role of business in UN reform.

 

Global Nutrition Event Aims to Ensure ”No More Missed Opportunities”

USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener at the Nutrition Roundtable

Poor diet is the number one risk factor for early death, contributing to 20 percent of global deaths, with the burden falling disproportionately on children under five and women of reproductive age. On October 2-3, the USCIB Foundation, the educational and research arm of USCIB, joined with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Wilton Park USA, to begin tackling this problem – a situation nutrition experts have described as a “missed opportunity” (Lancet, 2013) – through a roundtable dialogue in New York City under the banner of “No More Missed Opportunities.”

Each year, malnutrition is a factor in almost half of the six million deaths of children under five, and 159 million children are stunted, with impacts on their physical and cognitive abilities that last a lifetime. More than 500 million women are anemic, with an increased risk of maternal death and delivering premature and low-birth-weight babies. At the same time, 600 million adults are obese, and 420 million have diabetes, with rates rising steeply. Every country is now struggling with some aspect of malnutrition, and a growing number are experiencing both undernutrition and obesity.

The roundtable sought to support the accelerated achievement of internationally agreed global nutrition goals, and broader commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), by convening a high-level group of leaders from government, business and other key stakeholders. Participants set themselves three objectives:

  • Discuss the draft Principles of Engagement for Government-Business Collaboration to frame and guide progress towards achievement of the food and nutrition SDG’s and the implementation of the UK Government’s commitment to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)
  • Identify ways to improve business engagement in global nutrition goals and engage multisector platforms to specifically address food and nutrition supply chains, distribution channels, and technical and scientific research to accelerate achievement of the global nutrition goals and directly benefit ODA recipient countries
  • Forge new relationships between government and business food and nutrition leaders to kick-off a new era of constructive partnership.

In his opening remarks, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “The USCIB Foundation is here looking for ways to improve and accelerate business engagement in the implementation of the global nutrition goals, which we believe is absolutely essential if we hope to achieve these goals by 2030.”

Robinson also highlighted the significance of the draft Principles of Engagement for Government-Business Collaboration, noting, “consensus around a set of principles like these would establish a framework that would encourage more joint efforts and public-private partnerships.”

While Robinson said he is “highly optimistic” about the future of nutrition, he remarked on some barriers to private-sector engagement. These include the perceived conflict of interest between business motivation for public-private partnerships and public-sector goals, lack of trust between business, governments and other stakeholders and too much regulatory red-tape, seemingly designed to deter the private sector from engaging in partnerships.

Panels throughout the dialogue focused on the knowledge revolution and data, the pace of innovation, incentives for government-business collaboration, multi-sectoral platforms that can facilitate results, and concluded with a spirited discussion of draft Principles of Engagement to guide further discussion.

It is hoped that these principles will serve as a platform to enable further, more pointed conversations and serve as a model example for other institutions from a good governance perspective. USCIB and the USCIB Foundation will continue conversations and action with our partners in this dialogue to ensure progress towards our shared goals.

The event was hosted by the Harvard Club.

Roundtable participants. USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson front row, sixth from left, alongside representatives from GAIN and WiltonPark

USCIB Experts Roundtable on Enhancing Impact of SDG Public Private Partnership

While partnerships are a widely accepted means to complement government policy and implementation, USCIB’s Business Experts Roundtable on Enhancing Impact of SDG Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s), which was held on the margins of the UN General Assembly, zeroed in on the special attributes and expectations relating to such partnerships for SDG implementation.

The Roundtable, hosted by Deloitte in New York, provided feedback from experts and invited speakers from companies, the U.S. government and UN entities to comment on what they considered to be the essential ingredients for impact when it came to designing and implementing those cooperative approaches.

Kay Thompson, Deloitte, served as a facilitator for the session, and encouraged the speakers to reflect on failures as well as successful experiences in their experience with SDG partnerships.

Justin Perrettson, Novozymes, who also serves as vice chair of USCIB’s Environment Committee, offered opening comments on the misperception by many of partnerships as an “easy option.”  Many of the important elements for success and resilience in partnership appear after the initial memorandum of understanding, in their implementation.  Any discussion of ingredients for impact would have to prioritize PPP execution along with PPP design.

Thomas Debass, who represented the State Department Office of Global Partnerships, highlighted the innovation and new ideas that private sector entities can bring to governments and inter-governmental organizations via partnerships.  Many companies have moved to embed the SDG’s into their business model, and this is a development that will certainly extend the positive impact of PPP’s.

Stefanie Amadeo, of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, added to that observation, reflecting that the UN could learn a great deal from the private sector in SDG PPP design and implementation.

Charles North, U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), reminded the meeting of AID’s long history and experience in partnering for development with business; these experiences lend themselves to data mining to help understand the specific circumstances that enable success and impact.  More recently, he noted that the longest running and most effective PPPs are those in which the private sector partner sees core business opportunities, beyond corporate philanthropy and social responsibility.  He concluded by identifying challenges ahead on SDG PPPs, particularly those relating to differences in language and expectation between public and private sector partners.

Vinicius Pinheiro of the International Labor Organization (ILO) spoke about 3 main elements for impact in SDG partnerships: shared values, clear and concrete commitments and follow-up mechanisms.

Helen Medina of Nestle, and a former USCIB staffer, observed that corporate culture is fundamental in SDG PPPs, and that is a major factor in Nestle’s approach.  For Nestle, almost any business activity involves partnership in some form, hence it is regarded as an integral part of doing business.  The SDGs resonate with Nestle’s strong focus on corporate responsibility, which is expressed in actions at the community level as well as from Nestle’s C-suite.

Sahba Sobhani, UNDP, talked about the ability of the UN system and network to bring multiple business platforms together on a large scale for impact, for example recently on disaster response.  The UN provides an essential ingredient for impact in its capacity building work, including with business groups in country.  He flagged the 3 C’s for SDG PPP impact: Convening, Catalyzing and Mobilizing Capital.

Livio Vanghetti of PMI described the challenges of internal transformation as the company moves to reinvent itself and its products, while still advancing SDG PPPs through their supply chains and local farmers.

Tara Nathan, MasterCard also emphasized the importance of commercial frameworks that can support innovative partnerships, whether through data or supply and value chains links.  For SDG PPP impact, these frameworks should be sought out and aligned with SDG implementation.

Alex Assanvo of Mars shared his experience with SDG PPPs and the need to translate what the SDGs set out into practical changes across diverse and often disconnected business functions, including procurement.  Bringing development agency partners together with business partners can require multiple attempts until the right arrangements and flexibility can be reached.

Throughout the Roundtable, speakers agreed that delivering the SDG’s depends on involvement of the private sector, and a substantial component of that practical contribution will come through partnerships.

USCIB’s SDG Working Group will develop a white paper that will capture and expand on the areas mentioned in this Roundtable, with a focus on U.S. business and the role it can play to scale up the impacts of SDG PPP, working collaboratively through U.S. government and in the context of the United Nations system.

Please contact Norine Kennedy or Gabriella Herzog for more information

USCIB Experts Roundtable on Understanding Big Data for Business Action on SDGs

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, alongside USCIB CEO and President Peter M Robinson

USCIB convened a Business Experts Roundtable on Data Analytics for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and National Reports, on September 19, kindly hosted by KPMG.  This session, held on the margins of UN General Assembly (UNGA) week, was intended to start a conversation about how to organize, analyze and improve on frameworks to present and analyze SDG-related data, with a focus on private sector approaches that are already in use.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria opened the meeting with a statement of wholehearted commitment by the OECD to advancing SDG action by governments.  He reminded the meeting of extensive data and assessment that the OECD has gathered, but also recognized that the quantity and variety of metrics is overwhelming.  He expressed appreciation for U.S. business involvement on these topics through the Business and industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, and looked forward to further insight that business could offer in organizing what is becoming “too much” of a good thing: data and metrics on SDG action and impact.

USCIB members offered two presentations as examples of business thought-leadership in this area.  Tam Nguyen and Michael Yamoah, Bechtel, described a textual analytics framework to strengthen the business case within the company for SDG action.  The overall objective in the company was to shift from SDG reporting to formulating a strategy that would be integral to the entire business process: new business development, design, building and operation.  Text analytics of national voluntary reviews did provide a structured approach to organize and make sense of voluminous amounts of unstructured data related to business lines, markets and SDG’s.

Gaya Branderhorst, KPMG, provided an overview of dynamic risk analysis (DRA) and its applicability to tracking SDG actions.  In her presentation, DRA is well-suited to sustainability science, reflecting the inherent inter-connections of the SDG’s.  A systems dynamic approach to gauging progress will need to elicit multiple experts, and involve all levels of an organization or company.  This is especially relevant to emerging issues and innovation, which may not be visible to the top levels of a government, inter-governmental and business entity.

Jennifer Park, a representative from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, observed that the U.S. government also tracks dozens of statistics and other metrics, and spoke about the need for a structure that would allow a “full picture” of sustainable development status and progress.  Carolien DeBruin of C-Change underscored the need to bridge between top-down data gathering and interpretation and working and grassroots experiences in practice.  Manu Bhardwaj of Mastercard provided a perspective on data poverty in developing countries, and the barriers that poses for SDG action.  He described recent efforts in the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to work with the OECD on utilizing private sector information from consumer transactions to help inform SDG policy priorities.

National governments and other important societal partners are expected to take action on the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs, but governments and business now face the challenge of how to measure progress on multiple and integrated fronts, and then communicate it to important stakeholders.  In addition, many stakeholders are seeking more disaggregated data, which adds another level of complexity.  For business, that means reaching internal audiences as well as investors to demonstrate value and benefit of a company’s SDG involvement, while national governments seek to demonstrate to their public and the international community – perhaps through Voluntary National Reviews to the UN High Level Political Forum – that they are delivering on their commitments.

Some governments have invited and reflected business information and metrics in their VNRs, but these are still in the minority, so a related question concerns a closer look at good practices in public consultation and gaining a better understanding of what business-generated or held information relating to SDG progress could also be useful to governments.

USCIB’S SDG Working Group will explore these and other dimensions of how to structure and understand data on SDG action and impact, and share further private sector experiences and suggestions in this regard.

Please contact Norine Kennedy (nkennedy@uscib.org) or Gabriella Rigg Herzog (gherzog@uscib.org) for more information about the USCIB SDG Working Group.

USCIB Rolls Out Updates to Businessfor2030.org

Business for 2030 homepage logoOn the occasion of the high-level opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, USCIB announced new additions and improvements to the Businessfor2030 web platform. USCIB built the platform in 2015 to showcase business engagement on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), and provide a public resource for businesses and others on SDG relevance, process, partnerships and implementation. The Business for 2030 website, www.businessfor2030.org, features new content in two areas: a just-launched “explore by company” page and featured blog posts on the importance and opportunity of UNGA for U.S. business.

The scale and ambition of the 2030 Development Agenda creates a tremendous opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate the central role it plays in sustainable development and human prosperity and to serve as an essential partner to bridging the gap in finance and technical capacity necessary to meet the challenge of achieving the SDG’s. The Business for 2030 site showcases business’ past and continuing contributions to sustainable development through the prism of the SDG’s. The goal of the site is to stimulate a more productive partnership between the public and private sectors at the UN and at national levels and to demonstrate the need for a proportionate role for business in the negotiations, implementation and follow-up mechanisms of the 2030 Development Agenda at both the UN and at national levels

The all new “Explore by Company” page on the Business for 2030 website allows users to filter by company for case studies of business contributions to the SDG’s, and complements the “Explore by Goal” page. The new page also simplifies the website’s search functions, aiding users who are looking for company-specific information.

The Businessfor2030 blog also included two new posts relating to UNGA:

  • What to Watch for During UNGA Week” features a DEVEX article that highlighted António Guterres’ UNGA debut as secretary-general, UN reform, President Donald Trump’s speech to the UN and humanitarian crises. It also flags the recognition of the need for private-sector engagement in order to achieve the SDG’s.
  • USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson also contributed a featured post on the blog to reflect on where business fits into the complex multilateral and multi-dimensional challenge of the Agenda for 2030. The blog discusses how good governance and support from the private sector can help to achieve the SDG’s and sets out three broad challenges for SDG implementation by business: inclusiveness, innovation and information. Robinson commends the progress that has already been made, while simultaneously asking more of both the business community and the UN community in the future.

The Business for 2030 Twitter account (@bizfor2030) tweeted out specific case studies throughout the UNGA week linked to specific SDG’s and USCIB events. We invite companies to continue contributing their case studies to the Business for 2030 web platform by contacting Kristen Bauer (kbauer@uscib.org).

USCIB Highlights US Business Stake and Voice at UNGA Opening

After the high level opening week of this year’s 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB is moving ahead to draw attention to U.S. business accomplishments and recommendations as the UNGA now moves into its longer-term deliberations.

This year’s UNGA got underway during a time of stresses and strains in the international community. The nature of these stresses is particularly acute for the U.S. business community: a growing need for financing and investment in infrastructure, the open trading system called into question, and calls by some for a retreat from engagement in multilateral forums. How does American business plan for these challenges in the international marketplace, and where can we make the biggest difference?

The 72nd UNGA is a particularly relevant forum for USCIB this year because it provides platform to begin addressing these very questions through the lens of the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s UNGA is also compelling because of the opportunities that UN reform proposals by Secretary General Guterres and others could offer to strengthen business access and enabling frameworks for business action.

In the face of challenges such as global unemployment, climate change and population growth, USCIB events last week spotlighted our members’ view that the SDGs are “must-wins” for the United States and for the American business community. While economic growth abroad helps create jobs at home, open markets and policies that foster private investment offers new markets for our products. In USCIB’s view, private sector-led innovation aimed at improved sustainability gives the U.S. a leg-up in global competition while advancing investment in energy sources and new technologies to combat climate change.

USCIB’s side events and messaging during UNGA’s high-level opening week also emphasized multilateral solutions to global challenges, with USCIB policy experts and its members constructively contributing to dialogues and forming close working relationship with both U.S. government and UN representatives to advance U.S. business contributions to sustainable development. USCIB’s commitment to the SDG’s was reflected in its theme, “Business Makes It Happen.” This continuing theme will emphasize that achieving the SDG’s relies on strong involvement, commitment and incentives for the private sector.

This newsletter consolidates summaries of USCIB-related side-events and activities during UNGA opening week and outlines outcomes and next steps.

For questions regarding USCIB’s work on Sustainable Development, please contact Norine Kennedy, vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and climate change: nkennedy@uscib.org.

USCIB Partners With Global Business Organizations at UNGA Opening Week

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich opens the UN SDG Business Forum in July 2017

USCIB is proud of its affiliations with leading global business organizations in the multilateral system and had the privilege to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to make the case for recognized opportunities for the private sector to cooperate and dialogue with the UN across the range of issues covered by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

This year marked ICC’s first UNGA session attending as a recognized observer organization. ICC’s delegation was led by ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and included ICC executive board members and ICC Secretary General John Danilovich.  ICC’s planned engagement was intended to firmly establish ICC’s presence at the UN as the definitive voice of global business – building on engagement at this year’s UN Financing for Development Forum in May and the High-Level Political Forum in July.

ICC drew on the work of several ICC Commissions to inform deliberations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – from the important role of digital technologies in delivering the SDG’s to ICC’s trade facilitation activities, to its efforts to promote small and medium sized companies in trade and other commercial activities. ICC involvement during the UNGA’s opening week included:

-ICC High-Level week side-event, in conjunction with the governments of Indonesia, Norway and Mexico, as well as UNDESA and the Mobile association GSMA.

-Joining events on Digital Entrepreneurship for 2030,  the UN Innovation Summit, and the UN private Sector to discuss the role of private sector technology and innovation in implementing the SDG’s.

As in previous years, ICC played a leading role in the Concordia Summit, specifically in the session on “Innovative Financing Solutions to achieve SDG’s.”

International Organization of Employers (IOE)

USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson, who also serves as regional vice president for North America for the IOE, represented IOE during several employer-organized side-events, including the launch of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC). EPIC is a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership founded by the International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Women and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assist UN Member States in achieving the SDG’s, specifically those that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Robinson spoke on a panel on “Drawing top talent for innovation and growth at leading businesses through equal pay policies,” alongside business leaders from IKEA, Accenture, Barclay’s, GAP and Catalyst. Robinson emphasized the compelling business and economic case for unleashing women’s skills and talents and empowering women to enjoy equal access to job opportunities and career advancement. Rather than increasing regulation and legislation, Robinson pointed out that solutions for closing gender parity gaps include a better understanding of the barriers behind such gaps, with cultural and legal barriers differing widely among countries.

“The IOE, with its global membership, is well positioned to help in this regard in both education and advocacy: it is able to share and leverage the experiences of its membership in providing practical services to members and in informing and advising governments and international organizations on policy actions,” said Robinson.

Robinson also represented employers at an Alliance 8.7 launch of the ILO’s Modern Slavery and Child Labor Global Estimates where he provided insight on the position of employers with regards to child labor and forced labor. In his remarks, Robinson emphasized the continued dedication of employers to eradicate child labor and forced labor, noting the importance of collaboration between governments and the private sector, especially given the complexity of today’s global supply chains.

“While the primary responsibility lies with governments to establish and enforce national labor laws, business also has a desire and responsibility to do what it can to respect and follow those laws and looks forward to working with governments and other civil society actors in the shared fight to eliminate child and forced labor,” said Robinson.

The new Modern Slavery Global Estimates encompass forced labor and forced marriage and it is the first time such research was conducted. The ILO and the Walk Free Foundation jointly published the new Modern Slavery Global Estimates. Additionally, the new Child Labor estimates will be an update to the Global Estimates on Child Labor published by the ILO in 2012.

USCIB Strengthens Business Voice at UNGA

The high-level portion of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) wrapped up last week in New York, attended by President Donald Trump and other heads of state, and featuring numerous parallel events involving business and business issues.

For the first time, USCIB convened a series of meetings during UNGA week to highlight challenges and opportunities for the U.S. business community in advancing inclusive growth and sustainable development, working with the United Nations, and the importance of partnering with the U.S. government in advancing economic and other benefits at home and abroad.  USCIB events highlighted key U.S. business recommendations and involvement to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), inform climate change policy and implementation, and advance inclusive business engagement as part of UN reform.

These discussions explored the “ingredients for impact” to catalyze business contributions to the SDG’s under the theme, “Business Makes It Happen.”   Over the course of the week, USCIB worked closely with and welcomed representatives of the U.S Department of State, the Office for Management and Budget, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

USCIB organized 2 Breakfast Roundtables on:

  • Data analytics for SDGs and national reports, and
  • Public private partnerships for SDG impact
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria speaks at one of USCIB’s UNGA side-events

USCIB members KPMG, Deloitte and Pfizer hosted USCIB events, which drew high-level participants and speakers including OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, Assistant UN Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Thomas Gass, Assistant UN Secretary General and Head of the NY office of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Elliott Harris and Chief of the NY office of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Chantal Line Carpentier.  CEO of Novozymes and USCIB Board member and sustainability champion Peder Holk Nielsen presided over USCIB’s UNGA week wrap up event.

In addition to USCIB-organized events, USCIB was honored to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and to represent the International Organization of Employers (IOE) in the launch of two important initiatives: the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) and the ILO Alliance 8.7 study, “Global Estimates on Modern Slavery.”

USCIB joined forces with Business Fights Poverty to co-host the September 18 Business Fights Poverty Conference, “Rethinking Collaboration for the SDG’s”.

A full review of these meetings, their recommendations and next steps, as well as other USCIB involvement in UNGA week will be shared later this week.

Business Makes It Happen: American Business at the UN General Assembly

By Peter M. Robinson
President and CEO
United States Council for International Business

 

“We live in a complex world. The United Nations cannot succeed alone. Partnership must continue to be at the heart of our strategy. We should have the humility to acknowledge the essential role of other actors, while maintaining full awareness of our unique convening power.”

-Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

The 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) gets under way this week at a time of stresses and strains in the international community. The nature of these stresses is particularly acute for the U.S. business community: a growing need for financing and investment in infrastructure, the open trading system called into question, and calls by some for a retreat from engagement in multilateral forums. How does American business plan for these challenges, and where can we make the biggest difference?

For USCIB and its members, an important place to start tackling these questions is the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a framework that will be at the center of this week of high-level meetings, also known as Global Goals Week.

In the face of challenges such as unemployment, climate change and population growth around the world, USCIB believes we have to pursue the SDGs as “must-wins” for the United States and for the American business community. We know that economic growth abroad helps create jobs at home. Open markets and policies that foster private investment offers new markets for our products. Innovation aimed at improved sustainability give the U.S. a leg-up in global competition while advancing investment in energy sources and new technologies to combat climate change.

That is why, this week, USCIB is holding a series of discussions on the margins of the UNGA to cultivate the “ingredients for impact” to catalyze business contributions to the SDGs. We are doing this under the theme, “Business Makes It Happen,” because we believe that, without strong commitment and incentives for the private sector, we won’t be able to achieve the Global Goals.

USCIB supports multilateral solutions to global challenges, with business constructively involved. We rely on solid, long-term dialogue and a close working relationship with both our government and the UN system to advance U.S. business contributions to sustainable development, delivering economic benefits at home and abroad. When it comes to what business depends on to succeed, thrive and lift the American economy, we look to Washington, D.C., and to the United Nations. We depend on both, and that is why USCIB has chosen to step forward as a U.S. business organization, working closely with our partners in the U.S. government as UNGA gets underway.

The Three I’s

The 2030 Agenda provides a blueprint for action that enjoys wide business and government support. But there are still three broad challenges in terms of implementation by business – inclusiveness, innovation and information.

  • Information: While there is more and better information available from companies on SDG action, we are overwhelmed with the quantity of data, and so we – business, governments — don’t know where to begin to understand or prioritize action. We have too much information and not enough analysis. The business community needs to develop ways to present its progress that are accessible and relevant for the international community and national governments.
  • Innovation, which is the best source of solutions for sustainability, still faces obstacles due to a lack of proper incentives for researchers, inventors and investors. The UN must do better in creating a fully welcoming environment and institutional framework for technology innovation that is genuinely involving business experts.
  • Inclusiveness: A basic tenet of the Agenda for 2030 is that no one is left behind. That suggests that everyone needs to be involved to deliver solutions. Yet in some UN forums, the private sector is still not regarded as a full partner in the effort. At times, there are still political sensitivities when business wants to come to the table, or even just listen in on policy deliberations. Clearly, we in business need to do more to demonstrate commitment and deliver actual results.

Statements by both United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák suggest that, under their leadership in the UNGA this year, we could see progress towards a more inclusive and transparent framework to involve the business community across the board. USCIB would endorse and welcome such a development.

By their very nature, many of the SDGs depend on partnerships to be implemented, and we regard business as indispensable in collaborative action to deliver the SDGs. On its 2nd anniversary, the USCIB web platform, Business for 2030, now showcases 200 initiatives from 52 companies, in over 150 countries, covering 85 of the 169 SDG targets. These encompass both philanthropic and corporate responsibility initiatives as well as core business operations that all contribute to achieving one or more of the 17 SDG targets.

Progress has been made, as witnessed by the strong response to this year’s SDG Business Forum on the margins of last July’s High-Level Political Forum – it literally filled the UN’s largest room, the General Assembly Hall. Governments and the UN have to continue to create those new kinds of spaces in which that exchange on policy and practice can occur substantively and with good governance.

With our affiliations to leading global business organizations embedded in the UN system, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), we have been fortunate to be on the front lines of the collaborative discussions that brought forward the SDGs, and to foster recognized opportunities for the private sector to cooperate with the UN. The process of multilateralism does move slowly, demanding investment of time and effort, but the rewards are outcomes in which business is invested and knows what to expect.

It is already clear to USCIB that one element of success towards efficiency and effectiveness in the reform of the UN is to create the most open and inclusive institutional structures to consult with representative business bodies, and then to recognize and include those inputs. We have seen time and again how the ILO, the OECD and other inter-governmental forums have demonstrated that including business in a recognized manner is a value add because it is brings on board those societal partners that invest, innovate and implement.

At USCIB, we are more convinced than ever that a more open and accountable policy dialogue, with recognized involvement of representative business groups, is a fundamental element of good governance (which is in fact the aim of SDG16), and will deliver real results. By and large, UN bodies are involving business in more substantive ways, and we are looking forward to this year’s UNGA to keep that discussion going, particularly in the context of UN reform.

In his report laying out his vision of UN reform, Secretary General Guterres presents eight big ideas for reform of the UN system.  At the heart of those are the 17 big commitments which the global community made in 2015: the SDGs. Our main goal this week is to join the international dialogues and offer ways to make those big ideas a reality for, and with, U.S. business.

Throughout the negotiations leading to the SDGs, and now in the period of their execution, we have underscored the need for business to be embedded in the process. This is necessary to leverage all the resources that the private sector can provide through investment, innovation and know-how. With dialogue and the right mix of incentives, business really can make it happen and we will be working throughout this year’s UNGA to continue the evolution towards collaborative and impactful SDG partnerships with business.

Business Makes It Happen: UNGA Week Events Spotlight the Private Sector’s Role in Sustainable Development

New York, N.Y., September 13, 2017 – As United Nations members gather in New York to review progress on the UN’s ambitious 2030 Development Agenda, American business is underscoring how much it is doing – and could be doing, provided the proper incentives – in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most innovative and successful global companies, plans a series of events in New York throughout the week of September 18, centered on the theme: “Business makes it happen.”

“This is an important moment for the SDGs and for the UN family,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Throughout the negotiations leading to the SDGs, and now in the period of their execution, we have underscored the need for business to be embedded in the process. This is necessary to leverage all the resources that the private sector can provide through investment, innovation and know-how. With dialogue and the right mix of incentives, business really can make it happen.”

Events the week of September 18 include:

  • Rethinking Collaboration for the SDGs, September 18 at Barclays, 745 Seventh Avenue. USCIB will join forces with Business Fights Poverty to co-host this action-focused half-day event on how business, government and civil society are collaborating to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. USCIB’s Robinson and several USCIB members are among the speakers.
  • Data Analytics for SDGs and National Reports, September 19 at KPMG, 345 Park Avenue. Experts from USCIB member companies will present and discuss private sector frameworks for data analytics on SDG implementation, and consider opportunities for synergy with national reports for more targeted and comprehensive UN discussion and action.
  • Going Further Together for Shared Impact: U.S. Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development, September 21 at Deloitte, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. USCIB member companies and government partners will present and discuss examples of public-private sector partnership to advance the SDGs, with a view to expanding those working relationships and improving and scaling up efforts for shared impact and benefit.
  • USCIB Side Event, Business Makes It Happen, September 22 at Pfizer, 235 East 42nd Street. This wrap-up event will present the main recommendations and initiatives identified during UNGA week, and discuss next steps on the intersection of UN reform and the SDGs, scaling up investment in infrastructure, public-private partnerships and institutional evolution needed to catalyze business involvement to advance SDGs.

In 2015, USCIB launched Business for 2030, an ambitious effort to catalogue and catalyze company efforts to support the SDGs. The site has quickly become a go-to resource for all stakeholders interested in the SDGs to learn about what the global business community is doing to help achieve them. Business for 2030 now showcases 187 initiatives from 49 companies, in over 150 countries, covering 83 of the 169 SDG targets. These encompass both philanthropic corporate responsibility initiatives as well as core business operations that all contribute to achieving one or more of the 17 SDG targets.

“Innovation, infrastructure, economic growth and empowerment and good governance are the four inter-linked cornerstones for all 17 SDGs for business,” stated Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and environment. “Therefore, it is crucial to consult with private-sector groups at the national and regional level to develop enabling frameworks for business actions to advance the SDGs.”

The latest list of UNGA week events organized by USCIB is available here.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
Tel: +1 917 420 0039
jhuneke@uscib.org