USCIB Joins Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters   

Agnes Vinblad

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the UN General Assembly will convene an international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden June 2-3, 2022. The theme of the meeting will be, “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity.”  

On March 28, the President of the General Assembly Ambassador Abdulla Shahid invited government delegations and civil society to partake in the Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York. Representing USCIB, Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad attended in person. The meeting was chaired by the Stockholm+50 co-hosts, Sweden and Kenya, with sessions organized around the three Stockholm+50 Leadership Dialogues: 

  • Leadership dialogue 1: Reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity of all.  
  • Leadership dialogue 2: Achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).  
  • Leadership dialogue 3: Accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.  

Plenary interventions focused on topics such as mitigation and adaptation, climate finance, sustainable production and consumption, nature-based solutions, and the recommendations outlined in the UN Secretary General’s Report, “Our Common Agenda.”  

“This preparatory meeting emphasized systemic change and the need for new ways to measure economic success through a lens of sustainability and intergenerational justice with an ambition of achieving a just transition,” said Vinblad. “USCIB sees Stockholm+50 as an opportunity for business to yet again show its unparalleled ability to not only contribute to – but also take the lead on – sustainable development.” 

Adopted on June 16, 1972, the UN Stockholm Declaration was the first document to recognize the interconnections between development, poverty, and the environment. Building on this heritage, Stockholm+50 will be a global conference focused on multilateral dialogue to accelerate action on the SDGs towards the realization of Agenda 2030, while serving as a critical steppingstone for the global multilateral community on the path towards UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November.  

Building on the commemorative nature of Stockholm+50, Vinblad said that USCIB wants to fit business into that narrative, showing that the private sector has been concerned with issues related to sustainability and climate change since the inception of the Stockholm Declaration in 1972. 

USCIB On Hand at Historic UN Environment Assembly Launching Global Plastics Pollution Agreement 

The United Nations convened the decision-making UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 – March 4, hosted at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).  

At this meeting, which also commemorated the 50th anniversary of UNEP’s founding, government delegations reached agreement on the resolution, End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) which sets into motion an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop the LBI by end of 2024. In addition, UNEA agreed to establish a new Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution, which will be developed in negotiations over the next two years, to serve as a trusted source of consensus in these areas, much in the same way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a recognized source of scientific consensus on climate change.

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy represented USCIB on the ground during this landmark inter-governmental meeting, involving all 193 UN member states. USCIB advocated the essential role business must play in addressing the triple environmental crisis, considering and reflecting all-of-economy realities.

“For USCIB, enabling private sector innovation will be key in limiting plastic pollution in the environment,” said Kennedy. “To unlock the full potential of U.S. business innovation to tackle plastic pollution and advance circular economy approaches, any agreement on plastic pollution needs to be flexible with a mix of legally binding and non-binding elements.”

USCIB conducted a live briefing for members from Nairobi on March 2 to pass on the most up-to-date developments, focusing on outcomes relevant to business. American Chemistry Council (ACC) Senior Director, Global Plastics Policy Stewart Harris provided insights on the business opportunities and challenges ahead in the development of a legally binding instrument to address global plastic pollution. Harris and Kennedy referenced the USCIB Letter to the Administration, which set out USCIB member priorities to the State Department and EPA.

During the briefing, Harris characterized the plastics pollution negotiating mandate as a good outcome for business and industry, enabling business leadership initiatives while also assessing effectiveness and supply chain impacts of proposed actions. Moreover, the resolutions prioritize flexibility and recognize the need to engage business in the treaty’s development. Kennedy also pointed out critical outcomes in the areas of circular economy and sustainable infrastructure, among others. 

On March 10, USCIB’s Environment Committee will convene a meeting which will include a more detailed briefing on the outcomes of UNEA 5.2 and their implications for U.S. Business.

Kennedy Advocates for Business Mainstreaming in OECD Expert Panel on Post-COP26 Action  

The OECD Washington Center co-organized an expert panel discussion on “Post-COP26: Driving Climate Action” last month. The discussion focused on how to understand and continue the momentum of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which transpired in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. As USCIB’s lead environment, energy and climate change expert, Senior Vice President of Policy and Global Strategy, Norine Kennedy supported USCIB members attending COP26.  

Other speakers on the panel included the Deputy Director of the Environment Directorate at OECD Ingrid Barnsley; Director of International Climate Initiatives at the World Resources Institute David Waskow, and Lead Climate Lawyer at the U.S. State Department Andrew Neustaetter.

Kennedy remarked that COP26 was noteworthy, “not just because of the turnout and the accomplishments, but also because we have never seen that kind of engagement from U.S. business – and indeed – from business at large.” Kennedy also pointed out that hundreds of CEOs attended, as well as thousands of business representatives from all over the world. With numerous and substantial voluntary pledges made by the private sector, COP26 demonstrated the unprecedented willingness of business to act on climate change.

USCIB is already starting to plan its engagement in COP27 in November in Egypt to build on these commitments and to ensure such business actions are taken into account in the Paris Agreement global stock-take, which will provide the basis for additional commitments by governments.   

Yet business received only scant mention in COP26 concluding documents. “While the outcome documents from Glasgow refer multiple times to a range of constituencies, business was barely mentioned, aside from Article 6 on carbon pricing,” said Kennedy.   

In closing, Kennedy emphasized that USCIB members support meaningful inclusion and mainstreaming of business as necessary to scale up action to keep 1.5 alive, ramp up further deployment of private sector innovation and investment and bring private sector solutions and employment, including in connection with adaptation and resilience.

To watch a recording of the panel, please visit this website.  

USCIB Calls for Private Sector Solutions and Engagement at UN Environment Assembly

The United Nations is convening a meeting of its central environmental policy body, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 – March 4. Taking central stage at UNEA is the launch of negotiations towards a legally binding global instrument to tackle plastics pollution. Other expected outcomes include further global decisions on circular economy, green recovery, and a proposed science-policy panel on pollution.    

In a letter to U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina and other Administration decisionmakers, USCIB called for inclusion of private sector expertise and recommendations in the formative stages of that new treaty, which will have supply chain and trade impacts for every industry sector.  

Among several recommendations concerning the expected global plastic pollution agreement, the USCIB letter noted that: “UNEA 5.2 conclusions on plastic pollution should take into account the sectors and supply chains that will be impacted, reflecting potential benefits and challenges. It will be crucial to work closely with experts from the business community to reach an effective and implementable agreement that tackles plastics pollution, promotes innovation and investment, and advances a circular economy.” 

With regard to other expected decisions at the upcoming conference, USCIB encourages UNEA 5.2 conclusions that: “Ensure participation of the private sector and other stakeholders in the development of future UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reports and future work streams, including a potential Science Policy Panel. Any further steps in this area should explicitly include and provide a role for business, and refrain from setting criteria for involvement that effectively disqualify the private sector.”

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy joined U.S. and global business representatives attending the negotiations in person in Nairobi. Kennedy stated that, “as the international community advances action on the triple environment challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, USCIB believes the private sector is indispensable to successful implementation, and we stand ready to provide business views and technical knowhow to inform these vital deliberations.” 

USCIB Meets With Australian Consul General to Discuss Mutual Interests, Future Collaboration

Left to right: Nick Greiner, Peter Robinson

USCIB had the honor of hosting Australian Consul General Nick Greiner and his colleague Mike Ryan on February 16 in the USCIB New York office.

The meeting between the Australian delegation and USCIB, which included USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, allowed for a candid discussion of mutual interests and potential future collaboration—namely in trade and investment, climate change and digital economy, among others.

It was acknowledged that USCIB and its Australian counterpart, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), are both privileged to serve as the respective national affiliates of the three main global business organizations: International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC).

ACCI also serves as a Steering Team Partner on The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE initiative, which is a global network of employers of all sizes that seeks to build vaccine confidence and support uptake among employees.

The Australian Consulate is located in the same building as the Australian Mission to the United Nations, and Consul General Greiner generously offered to introduce USCIB to the latter.

As COP26 Concludes, USCIB Calls for a New Inclusive and More Ambitious Approach

While COP26 came dangerously close to a “Copenhagen” breakdown over a lack of trust in the process due to last minute changes in the final text, the meeting concluded on November 13 at nearly midnight as approximately 200 countries agreed to the “Glasgow Climate Pact,” reports USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, throughout the final week of the intense two-week session, views had remained divided on substantive issues, most of which linked in some way to unmet finance needs, and also concerned gaps in pledged greenhouse gas reductions compared to scientific assessments of actions necessary to limit dangerous warming.

Following recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports of current national action pledges, the pressure was on to keep “1.5°C alive” and to finalize the outstanding elements – notably “Article 6” on carbon markets – of the Rulebook (the practical guidance for implementing The Paris Agreement).

“This meeting took place under numerous challenging circumstances,” added Kennedy. It was the first, major UN in-person meeting during the pandemic, held under stringent public health measures which included daily testing for all participants. COP26 was also taking place during a period of economic headwinds and uncertainty coupled with, higher energy prices. Outspoken climate campaigners inside the meeting areas and protesters outside, along with a higher-than-expected participation of more than thirty-thousand participants kept the pressure on. On the other hand, a record number of business participants on hand, including during the World Leaders Climate Summit, which comprised the first three days of the COP, signaled clear business support for ambitious climate action.

USCIB staff and members organized two U.S. business events in the final week:

  • A virtual USCIB side-event on “Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment for a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery,” featuring speakers from Duke University, General Motors and Generate Capital and
  • A Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) side-event on where business can make a running start to advance economy-wide action on climate change, in preparation for COP27. Speakers from Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Mohamed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection and WorldSteel shared perspectives on converging employment, trade and energy transition policies, working with the private sector.

“In spite of unparalleled support by U.S. companies for an ambitious outcome, working with the Administration, we were disappointed by scant mention of business in the Glasgow conclusions,” stated Kennedy. “The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) served as the focal point for business at COP26, debuting new ICC papers on carbon pricing and on sustainable trade finance.”

Looking ahead to the next major UN climate meeting in Egypt in 2022, several thorny issues remain, including lingering dissatisfaction with lack of adequate finance and questions about whether high-emitting countries (such as U.S., China, India) will be able to offer enhanced pledges of emissions reductions. USCIB members will be preparing recommendations to inform the UN “Global Stocktake,” which will form a basis for future action, and continue to advocate for economy-wide approaches inside and outside the UNFCCC that advance energy access and security and substantively engage U.S. business knowhow and innovation.

USCIB’s COP26 Concluding Statement can be found here.

COP26: US Business States Support for Inclusive Action on Outcomes

The United States Council for International Business commends the strong efforts of the U.S. delegation, the UK Presidency and other governments and stakeholders that were at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow to reach conclusion in key areas for business, overcoming challenging differences of opinion and delivering stepped-up international cooperation on climate change. Real progress has been made across the board, including strengthening Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), prioritizing adaptation, and completing outstanding work on carbon markets. In addition, the U.S. announced significant new global alliances to reduce methane emissions and to combat deforestation.

However, these hard-fought COP26 outcomes demonstrate the need for a new, more ambitious and inclusive phase of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process after Glasgow.  Keeping 1.5 in reach, mobilizing investment, innovation and finance and driving a just transition for workers and employers can only succeed through partnership and dialogue with key stakeholders, notably the private sector as an engine of growth and investment.

Turning out in record numbers in Glasgow, U.S. business demonstrated its readiness to be part of the solution, through pledges, initiatives and engagement with the Administration, the UNFCCC Marrakesh Action Platform and a host of others.  While the concluding documents of COP26 made disappointingly scant mention of the private sector, USCIB is convinced the meaningful inclusion of business is indispensable to keep 1.5 alive and to ramp up private sector deployment of innovation, resource mobilization and just transition.

USCIB looks forward to further technical work on Article 6.  We urge UNFCCC parties to commit to continued discussions, while engaging the private sector in order to build confidence in how the Article 6 rules will function effectively in the real economy.

USCIB is proud of the actions and thought leadership of its international affiliate organizations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), bringing the voice of global business and employers to this vital meeting. An inclusive multilateral approach will have to invite and crowd in engagement from all businesses large and small to assist on practical policy design, accelerated action and the economywide effort needed to attain global net zero as soon as possible.

USCIB members are committed to stay the course and make the case for the enabling frameworks inside and outside UNFCCC that converge a sustainable resilient recovery with Paris Agreement commitments.  U.S. business represented by USCIB will continue to play its part to inform increasingly ambitious NDCs and to highlight the need to engage business expertise in the Global Stocktake.  As declared in the closing statement for business groups at COP26, USCIB agrees that business has “a key role and responsibility to push for effective collective action at COP and at home. We can, we must, and we will accelerate our collective efforts.”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. USCIB has represented U.S. business at the UNFCCC since 1993. Furthermore, as the U.S. affiliate of leading international business organizations and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in ECOSOC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

 

UN Climate Agreement in the Balance: Role of Business in Innovation and Investment

Virtual BizMEF Dialogue at COP-26

As the second week of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) was underway in Glasgow, USCIB and its members continued to make the case for outcomes at a critical turning point to enable business investment, energy security and ambitious and cost-effective climate action.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy, who is on the ground in Glasgow to lead the USCIB delegation, governments are now negotiating the final crunch issues that include: carbon instruments and markets and completing the Paris Rulebook; increasing finance for developing countries, particularly for adaptation, as well as loss and damage; and transparency and credibility of pledge implementation.

“The UK government serves as the President of the COP26 meeting, and is now leading negotiations to reach conclusions on these and other remaining political matters, with involvement of ministers to break any logjams,” said Kennedy.

Last Friday, November 5, USCIB joined the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) in convening a virtual Business Dialogue at COP26, which included White House, government, the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and business participants. The meeting included thematic sessions on transparency and the global stock-take, involving business for ambition, as well as trade, transition and recovery.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson opened the BizMEF meeting, stating that the UN climate process should evolve to a more practical and inclusive multilateralism in which business is directly and substantively involved.

BizMEF virtual dialogue participants also heard presentations on the business implications and WTO viability of border carbon adjustments proposals, and the ways in which business can contribute to reviews of the effectiveness of overall government implementation of climate pledges – a process that sets the stage for new targets under the Paris Agreement.

Building on the momentum of the BizMEF event, USCIB then held a virtual side event the following Monday, November 8, titled “Mobilize: Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment for a Sustainable Recovery,” which was part of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) virtual COP26 Conference, “Making Climate Action Everyone’s Business.”  Presenters included:

  • Elizabeth Losos, Duke University Nicholas School of Environment
  • Scott Jacobs, CEO Generate Capital and
  • Kristen Siemens, Chief Sustainability Officer, General Motors

Kennedy led the roundtable discussion on how to create enabling frameworks for “shovel worthy” projects with due attention to responsible business behavior, multi-sectoral climate considerations and capacity building.

According to Kennedy, in spite of COVID restrictions, COP26 has become the largest climate meeting in UN history, beginning with a three-day World Leaders Summit, where President Joe Biden and over a dozen Administration Cabinet members were in attendance, alongside other heads of state and CEOs.

CEOs of USCIB and Novozymes Share Spotlight at COP26 Side-Event at US Center

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined Novozymes CEO Ester Baiget at a U.S. National Pavilion, known as the U.S. Center, at a side-event on “Tech for Net-Zero,” during the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) on November 2 in Glasgow, Scotland. Baiget serves as USCIB Trustee and USCIB Sustainability Champion.

The event was co-organized by USCIB and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment, and Science Monica Medina joined Robinson to open the event.  BCSE President Lisa Jacobson moderated a panel of private sector experts including Baiget, Patrick Flynn of Salesforce Amy Hadden of Schneider Electric, and Andrew Zoly of Planet Inc.

“We see COP26 as the opportunity to launch a new chapter in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, a transformative next step in the journey of international cooperation to global net zero,” said Robinson in his opening remarks. “American companies are committed to continuing to deploy innovation, investment and nature-based solutions towards a sustainable resilient recovery – and USCIB is leaning in on this, reflecting over twenty-five years of representing U.S. business in the UNFCCC.”

Medina opened her remarks with an emphasis on the role of the private sector. “Companies and investors and entrepreneurs around the world have a crucial role to play in bringing about the climate solutions that we need today and tomorrow,” said Medina. “It’s amazing that tech companies and the private sector are making such big commitments here in Glasgow. Technology and innovation are the way we elevate ambition, and that ambition is the thread that binds this conference together.

“Yes, we need solutions, and that’s where Novozymes comes in,” said Baiget. “At Novozymes, we use science to provide answers that respond to society’s most pressing needs. We bring, through nature and through a lot of science and technology, the alternatives and the solutions that lead to CO2 emissions reduction, lower waste, lower chemical use, lower energy intensity, and healthier products for our customers.”

The full video from the event is here: U.S. Center COP26 – Tech for Net-Zero – YouTube.

USCIB at the UN General Assembly (UNGA76)

As another challenging United Nations General Assembly (UNGA76) got underway with a “hybrid” High-Level opening week, COVID-19 and challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, energy access, food security and lack of adequate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) loomed large. USCIB convened several events to highlight the essential role of business in inclusive multilateralism and, for the first time, USCIB Board Members and Trustees stepped into the spotlight and clearly state USCIB commitment from the top to deliver private sector expertise and innovation to international challenges.

UNGA76 set the stage for critical decision-point policy meetings in the next six-months: the OECD Council of Ministers, the Glasgow Climate Summit and the WTO Ministerial to name a few. These events brought together members, representatives of the UN system, governments and civil society to share ideas for productive ways to advance a sustainable and resilient recovery through collaborative public-private partnerships and strengthened enabling frameworks.

Below are events USCIB hosted with its global partners and members, indicative of continuous involvement of USCIB policy managers, senior leaders, and members at the UN in New York and in other important events on the margins of the GA, including the ICC SDG Business Forum, the Business Fights Poverty Global Goals Summit and several webinars organized by the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

USCIB Business Townhall at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Tackling and Solving Global Challenges

September 20: On the margins of this week’s 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a virtual discussion titled “Reinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.”  This meeting was among the first organized by business to comment on the just issued UN Secretary General’s Report and vision for international cooperation, “Our Common Agenda.”

The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Participants from business and industry, the UN, governments, and civil society tuned into the session, which highlighted the critical role of the private sector in being able to achieve ‘Our Common Agenda,’ and particularly of the U.S. private sector in aligning with global business to respond to global challenges, and provide solutions working through inclusive multilateralism.

Read Full story here.

 

USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

September 21: On the eve of the UN Food Systems and Nutrition Summit, USCIB convened a virtual event—The Future of Food: A Conversation— with experts and practitioners from across societal, scientific, value chain and innovation perspectives. The event highlighted the need for and successful examples of innovation across the food and agriculture industry, the roles and relevance of collaborative approaches to innovation, and how shared value and understanding can hold the key to future opportunities. Facilitated by USCIB SVP for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the event was convened around the premise that in order to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries—considering amount of global climate emissions linked to agriculture and food—leaders must rethink how food, and especially protein, is made and sourced. Transforming the food system is not a solitary task; industry must come together and find new ways to collaborate and partner, and new alternatives must be created in a complementary manner.

Expert speakers included USCIB member Dr. Randal Giroux of Cargill, Chair of  USCIB’s Food and Agriculture Committee, as well as Valerio Nannini, Novozymes general manager for Novozymes Advanced Proteins Solutions. Other experts included Christine Gould, founder and president of Food for Thought, and The Good Food Institute Vice President, Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell.

Read full story here.

USCIB Joins Global Coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation

September 23: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA76). The Summit launched bold new actions as part of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. The goal of the Summit was to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to meet the challenges of poverty, food security, malnutrition, population growth, climate change and natural resource degradation. During the Summit, the U.S. announced the formation of a global Coalition of Action on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition). The coalition will accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through agricultural productivity growth that optimizes sustainability across social, economic and environmental dimensions. The coalition will advance a holistic approach to productivity growth that considers impacts and tradeoffs among multiple objectives. USCIB has joined the SPG Coalition.