3rd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA3) in Nairobi, Kenya

3rd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA3) – December 4-6 in Nairobi, Kenya

UNEA has the mandate to take strategic decisions, provide political guidance in the work of UNEP and promote a strong science-policy interface. UNEA3 will focus on the draft report, “Towards a Pollution Free Planet.”

Contact Norine Kennedy (nkennedy@uscib.org) for details.

Fall/Winter 2017 Issue of International Business Now Live

USCIB’s “International Business” Fall/Winter 2017 issue is now live!

The Fall/Winter 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “The Global Goals: a blueprint for partnership and action” as well as articles on developments in the UN General Assembly, NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

USCIB is delighted to honor Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard. Each year this gala event attracts several hundred industry leaders, government officials and members of the diplomatic community to celebrate open markets and the recipient of USCIB’s highest honor.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented to a senior business executive who has made significant policy contributions to world trade and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Join us for what will be a truly memorable evening!

Robinson Speaks on Private Sector Contribution to the SDGs

OECD Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

Over 40 business experts, including USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, met with OECD governments and secretariat officials last week in Paris to discuss the role of the private sector in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). High-level speakers including OECD Development Assistance Committee Chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi and Robinson outlined the need for greater collaboration between public and private actors.

The meeting, which was organized in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) gave participants an opportunity to highlight what needs to improve for an enabling environment that can spur local business activity as a key mechanism for driving growth and development.

USCIB Applauds Progress at Bonn Climate Conference

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at the UN Climate Change Conference

Bonn and New York, November 17, 2017 – As the Bonn Climate Conference wrapped up its work, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomed progress on priority topics for American business in the UN climate discussions. In particular, it noted that, after two weeks of intense negotiations, governments are moving ahead on transparency rules that will provide clarity and credibility across different national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mobilize resources to address climate change.

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson stated: “We want to express particular appreciation to the U.S. administration and the U.S. delegation attending these meetings for their accessibility and attention to advancing and defending American economic interests and opportunities in these international climate talks.”

Throughout the meeting, USCIB worked closely with the International Chamber of Commerce and the Major Economies Business Forum to call for inclusive business involvement in all areas of the climate deliberations. The Bonn outcomes also further chart the way forward for assessment and dialogue on the progress of all countries to meet Paris Agreement objectives, known as the Talanoa process, throughout 2018.

USCIB and its members have been on hand in Bonn to showcase American companies’ actions and solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mobilize investment and innovation, and inform the inter-governmental discussions going forward. Over 30,000 representatives from governments, the UN, NGOs and the business community attended the complicated technical talks to develop implementation rules for the Paris Agreement, including in the area of market-based approaches and carbon markets.

The next UN climate conference will take place in Katowice, Poland in December 2018.

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. 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
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 917.420.0039

Business Dialogue at Climate COP Underscores Need for Inclusive Engagement

Continuing a series of Business Dialogues at UN Climate Conference meetings (COPs) in Doha, Warsaw, Lima and Marrakesh, the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF) and USCIB organized a successful Business Dialogue on Sunday, November 12 in Siegburg, Germany on the margins of this year’s UN Climate Conference, known as COP23.

BizMEF is a partnership of over 20 major multi-sectoral business organizations – including USCIB – from major economies and international sectoral organizations.

This year’s BizMEF Business Dialogue discussed where business can contribute to national pledge development and review, and how business can be involved in the global review of pre-2020 climate action by countries and business, known as the Talanoa Dialogue, to be administered by Fiji.

USCIB and BizMEF have called for the establishment of a recognized channel for business engagement on these and other elements of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC.  BizMEF’s 2017 COP23 Issue Papers address business issues and are now available here.

The dialogue featured Fijian Ambassador to the EU Deo Saran. Fiji holds the presidency of this year’s climate negotiations, and will facilitate the Talanoa Dialogue.  Ambassador Saran stated: “We are aiming for a COP that delivers tangible results and inspires a race to the top.  When it comes to climate change action, each of us has a responsibility, including business. We are all in the same canoe.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson called for an open, inclusive framework for business engagement in the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. He welcomed the Talanoa Dialogue as “a way to bring together and consider the diverse national experiences and actions, to understand what has worked well, and identify where changes could be made to promote progress.  It is to be a dialogue, not a zero-sum negotiation. As such it is well suited for inclusion of business know how and experiences.”

The BizMEF Business Dialogue brought together over 50 participants from among government delegations, business leaders, academics and officials from the UNFCCC and relevant international organizations. High-level speakers at the event included:

  • Tomasz Chruszczow, Poland, SBI chair (Subsidiary Body for Implementation)
  • Marion Ferrat, IPCC Working Group III (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
  • Yvon Slingenberg, director general for environment, European Commission
  • Ambassador Patrick Suckling, [minister of?] environment, Australia
  • Trigg Talley, head of the Office of Global Change, U.S. Department of State
  • Jun Arima, professor of energy and environmental policy, University of Tokyo

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for environment, energy and strategic international engagement, highlighted the growing issue of perceived conflict of interest and proposed sectoral bans at the UNFCCC and elsewhere in the multilateral system.  “We need to move forward, not backward,” she remarked. “If business and industry have contributed to climate change, it should be equally true that we play a significant role in tackling climate change. The reality is that it will not be possible to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement without the robust and coordinated participation of the global business community in all its diversity.”

USCIB will continue to represent the private sector at COP23, through its conclusion on November 16. USCIB will also host an “on-the-ground” webinar from Bonn for USCIB members on Wednesday, November 15.  For more information on the webinar, please contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org).

UN Climate Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany

UN Climate Conference (COP 23) – November 6-17 in Bonn, Germany

COP23 will be organized by Fiji and is expected to continue progress towards enacting and defining the Paris Agreement, including further elaboration of provisions for transparency, review of NDCs and other aspects. Several side events for and/or organized by business will be held throughout the Conference.

Contact Norine Kennedy (nkennedy@uscib.org) for more details.

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.