US Business Priorities for UNGA High-Level Opening Week

USCIB issued the following statement on September 18 for the 75th United Nations General Assembly High-Level opening week. The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

On the occasion of the High Level Opening Week of the UN General Assembly on the urgent and intertwined topics of climate change and sustainable development, USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate, financing for development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. In each of these three areas, economic policies that drive growth and job creation will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation.

UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

USCIB members have placed the SDGs and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda at the center of their sustainable development policies and actions.  As needed progress towards delivering the SDGs is lagging, we encourage governments to do likewise. We urge the United Nations to call for greater global action to achieve Agenda 2030, using the occasion of its 75th anniversary in 2020 to galvanize the international community and actively include business and other non-state actors.

Business for 2030 homepage logoScientific assessment, policy dialogue and assessment all need to integrate business expertise and views on a more systematic basis at international, national and local levels. The private sector brings important experience and knowledge to deliver the 2030 Agenda; it is in the DNA of business to turn challenges into opportunities and to innovate and develop practical and realistic solutions for the problems we face together.  Recent examples of this business commitment and action will be highlighted at the September 25 SDG Business Forum, organized by ICC with the UN GC, the International Organization of Employers and the UN, and can be found on USCIB’s Businessfor2030 web platform.

In addition, a renewed emphasis on public-private sector partnerships is required to crowd-in private sector solutions.   In our view, business is needed more than ever as a source of solutions, real world experience, innovative technology, financial resources and partnerships in the multilateral system.  The UNGA SDG Summit is an opportunity to move toward mainstreaming collaborative approaches among the UN, governments, civil society, and business throughout the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Climate Change

On the occasion of the UN Climate Action Summit, USCIB recognizes that we must take urgent action to tackle climate change on all fronts.  According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformation adaptation.  In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders, will be vital.

We continue in our active support of the 2015 Paris Accord and the world business position presented at COP21.  We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption

We share the concern that there is a shortfall in hoped-for progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track.  We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to bringing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, working closely with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change en route to the 25th Conference of the Parties in Santiago, Chile.

Financing for Development

A major challenge faced in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is lack of financial resources, from both public and private sources.  Domestic resource mobilization is one of the core pillars identified in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to help close this gap, and the private sector is indispensable in this regard.  However, even with robust plans to incorporate financing for development, governments still need to do more to enhance enabling frameworks for investment and strengthen rule of law and institutions needed for inclusive economic prosperity.

At the UN High Level Meeting on Financing for Development, we encourage governments to redouble their efforts to protect human rights, tackle corruption wherever it is encountered in public or private sectors and pursue democratic and transparent processes whether via international cooperation or at home.

At ‘All In’ Event, Business Makes Case for Inclusive Multilateralism to Step Up SDG Action

Wade Warren, chief strategy officer, Deloitte gives opening remarks, alongside USCIB EVP for Strategy and Business Development Abby Shapiro

World leaders will gather for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-74) in New York over the next two weeks to deliberate on the need to step up action on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change. Many of these leaders from UN agencies, business and civil society, agree that not enough progress or scale has been achieved towards attaining SDG targets. Despite the private sector’s contribution on economic, environmental and social fronts towards delivering the SDGs, constraints to meaningful business engagement remain in some UN forums, hindering productive partnerships that could advance shared value and achieve common goals.

To highlight the importance of meaningful engagement by business in the UN system, USCIB, Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) organized an ‘All In’ Conference on the importance of inclusive multilateralism and the role of business in achieving the SDGs. The conference was held at the  Millennium Hilton UN Plaza Hotel on September 11 and brought together over 70 representatives from UN Missions and agencies, U.S. government, civil society, NGO’s and the private sector to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation, share challenges and opportunities, and chart a course for a practical “2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism and Business.”

Representative from Save the Children provides civil society perspective at ‘All In’ Conference

Throughout the day-long discussions, speakers and participants agreed that trust between governments, business and civil society has been strained yet remains a crucial foundation and success factor when building long-term, sustainable partnerships to address global challenges such as reskilling of workers, improving nutrition and eradicating poverty.

“If we were to achieve our aspirations, it would require all hands-on-deck, collective action and inclusive partnerships that mobilize resources and expertise,” said USCIB Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development Abby Shapiro. “Business can bring solutions, ability to scale and make much-needed investments in infrastructure. And we know that business can do well. We believe the SDGs present a unique prism to see what shared societal value means, especially in terms of social and environmental progress.”

Melissa Kopolow-McCall of AB InBev, a USCIB member, added a company perspective, “In some ways, our company is dependent on the SDGs to sustain its business model,” she said. “So partnerships are key – but it is not clear that all agree that partnerships are welcome or even a good thing. While some may believe that profit is incompatible with public good, we do not share that view.”

Participants also engaged in dialogue with Fabrizio Horchschild, special adviser to the UN Secretary General on preparations for the seventy-fifth United Nations anniversary, Austin Smith, acting U.S. representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Robert Skinner, executive director of the UN Office for Partnerships.

USCIB Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy moderated the day-long conference

USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy presented USCIB’s two-year ‘All In’ initiative to focus on strengthening inclusive multilateralism through six elements comprising its Vision:

  1. Public-private partnerships for shared value
  2. Leverage public and private science & technology know-how
  3. Scale SDG solutions through supply and value chains
  4. Measure and monitor impact of SDG Action by Business
  5. Inclusive economic empowerment
  6. Investing in SDG infrastructure in all its forms

USCIB has convened meetings focusing on specific elements of the ‘All In Vision’ in Geneva in May, Bangkok in June and NYC in July and will consider how to continue the global conversation about institutional infrastructure and multi-stakeholder partnerships toward practical solutions that mobilize business, governments and the UN system.

Future of Work Event Explores Opportunities for Business

USCIB’s Peter Robinson makes opening remarks at the Future of Work workshop on September 5

As megatrends, such as technology, changing demographics and climate change, continue to disrupt the world of work at an accelerating pace, policy makers, business and international agencies have begun to explore opportunities for reskilling and retraining workers. This served as the framework for a joint, interactive workshop on the Future of Work on September 5 at the historic Evermay Estate in Washington DC.

Organized by The USCIB Foundation, the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Wilton Park USA and the S&R Foundation, the workshop brought together business leaders for a candid discussion on challenges and opportunities. Throughout the discussions, USCIB members, including AT&T, Chevron, McDonalds, Nestle and PMI, shared insights on launching company-wide initiatives.

Welcoming the group, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “Today’s convening is at the intersection of policy and practice. Our goal is for everyone today to become informed about Future of Work policy, but more importantly, our goal is for you to come away inspired by the practical examples shared in the room by companies wrestling with these issues and converting them into positive opportunities for business, workers and society overall.”

IOE Adviser Akustina Morni

IOE Adviser Akustina Morni kicked off the discussions, providing a comprehensive overview of the regulatory landscape, future of work megatrends and recommendations, all of which are presented in a report created by IOE and The USCIB Foundation to inform the event.  Participants then moved through a series of topics on initiating, scaling, measuring and communicating about future of work programs.

“Apprenticeships were widely highlighted and cited as a potential way to skill, reskill and upskill a workforce, especially for mid-career professionals,” noted USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog. “What is most important is the opportunity to receive certification through an apprenticeship that will serve as recognized credential among employers.  While many different definitions of apprenticeships exist worldwide, their success, particularly in EU Member States, has provided a model to build from in the U.S. As the US government begins to examine establishing a more robust apprenticeship and credentialing program, business leaders will continue to work with stakeholders to meet the demands of the future of work.”

The organizers plan to hold follow-up discussions and will also produce an outcome report.

 

Pledge to America’s Workers: Spotlight on Salesforce

Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce

For the next twelve weeks, USCIB will spotlight case studies of USCIB members making an impact in the re-skilling and re-training the workforce as part of the White House Pledge to America’s Workers. This week, USCIB is celebrating Salesforce, the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) focused on bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age.

As part of its ongoing commitment to workforce development, Salesforce pledged earlier this year to train 1 million Americans for the workforce of the future. The company also announced two unique workforce development programs powered by Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform: the expansion of the Salesforce Pathfinder program and a new Vetforce Alliance to accelerate the hiring of the military community across the country.

Since launching in 2014, Trailhead has been a game changer for more than 1.5 million people looking to learn in-demand skills and jumpstart a career in the digital economy. Through guided, hands-on learning, Trailhead provides reskilling opportunities in artificial intelligence, mobile app development and further skills that empower anyone to earn globally-recognized credentials and fill top roles in an ecosystem set to generate 3.3 million new jobs by 2022.

According to Salesforce, integral to that ecosystem is the vibrant Trailblazer Community. Every day, more than 1.5 million Trailhead learners support and empower each other on the path to new careers. Using Trailblazer Connect, anyone can get started by finding a career fair or online bootcamp, identifying mentors for their career path and sharing resumes with local recruiters.

“A true pioneer, Salesforce is setting an example and showcasing the enormous impact American companies have in building an economy of the future, enabling inclusive growth, and removing barriers to learning,” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog.

With a mission to “properly respond to the changing needs in the world of work,” the National Council for the American Worker created a Pledge to America’s Workers, which, in just over a year, has been signed by over 300 companies and organizations and has generated more than 13 million training and education opportunities.

A White House Executive Order established the National Council for the American Worker in July 2018 with a mission to “properly respond to the changing needs in the world of work.” USCIB will be doing a weekly spotlight in the run up to National Apprenticeship Week this fall.

Future of Work Event to Educate Business on Major Trends

In light of an increasing number of international policy discussions around the ‘future of work’ at fora such as the G20 and the United Nations, The USCIB Foundation, which is USCIB’s academic and research arm, teamed up with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), Wilton Park USA and the S&R Foundation to convene a hands-on, action oriented workshop. This important event, to be held September 5 at the historic Evermay Estate in Washington, DC, will bring together members of the global business community for a peer-to-peer exchange of best practices.

“The ‘future of work’ (FoW) is now and the IOE has found that five major trends are affecting business and the workplace – technological innovation, demographic changes, climate change, globalization and the skills gap,” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog. “Each of these trends bring with them a variety of disruptions and opportunities for redefinition of how, when and where we work, as well as the creation of new jobs,” she added.

The subject of frequent discussion among all stakeholders at the OECD, UN, the International Labor Organization, G7 and G20, this high-profile policy area requires meaningful engagement. With better understanding of the concept and collaboration among peers and stakeholders, business will be better placed to proactively participate on ‘future of work’ policy and practice matters with positive outcomes that benefit business, economies and society.

“Company led future of work initiatives will take center stage at this event,” emphasized Herzog. “Business leaders will learn from one another as they speak candidly about the challenges and opportunities related to initiating an internal future of work program.”

Topics that will be discussed include getting internal buy-in, alignment and planning FoW programs, scaling FoW programs across different national contexts, and measuring and communicating impacts to diverse internal and external audiences. The combination of frank, engaging and informative discussions, together with the outcome report of best practices that will be developed for participants, promises to inspire meaningful action.

USCIB Partners With Deloitte, IOE to Launch Report on Scaling Investment for Sustainable Development

Patricia Buckley of Deloitte explained the report’s findings.

While global leaders meet in New York this week for the annual United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), USCIB partnered with Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers to launch a new study that shows the critical role the private sector will play in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which calls for promoting “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”  According to some experts, the success of the entire SDG agenda depends to a large extent on achieving SDG 8.

The event was attended by corporate leaders from Fortune 500 companies, small business company executives, top UN officials, the heads of USCIB and IOE to map out the path to increase private sector investment in SDG 8 targets.The report Reaching SDG8: Challenges, Opportunities and Risks provides detailed data analysis on current progress towards meeting the targets of this goal.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson launched the discussions. “There is an urgent need to develop new and inclusive partnership models that engage business and other non-state actors as equal partners with government,” said Robinson. “This model will embrace innovation, mobilize resources and expertise, and create shared accountability and value.”

According to the report, “the findings are discouraging, as the rate of global progress has, so far, not kept pace with the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. Very little success has been achieved on […] increasing employment opportunities, especially for the young workforce; reducing informal employment, labor market inequality, and gender discrimination; improving resource efficiency in consumption; promoting safe and secure working environments; and improving access to financial services.”

IOE President Erol Kiresepi, who attended the launch event, also provided his insight in a recent blog post, in which he warns that the global community has just over a decade to ratchet up action or run the risk of failing to achieve this ambitious development agenda with devastating consequences. “To bridge the gap between the aspirational and actions on the ground, employer and business member organisations can play a pivotal role,” writes Kiresepi. “Employer organizations worldwide have long and deep experience in translating development agendas into corporate strategies and frameworks.”

In discussing the results of the report, Patricia Buckley, managing director for economics at Deloitte U.S., highlighted “how little progress has been made on most of SDG 8 targets – targets which called for a variety of improvement ranging from increasing skills and reducing informal employment to improving resource efficiency and expanding access to financial services for all.”

USCIB Helps Celebrate ILO Centennial, Business Role in Sustainable Development

Ringing the closing bell at Nasdaq. L-R: Mamadou Diallo, deputy secretary general, International Trade Union Confederation; Moussa Oumarou, deputy director general, ILO; USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, IOE VP for North America. USCIB Vice President Gabriella Herzog is immediately to the right of Robinson.

As leaders assembled in New York for the United Nations’ annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, USCIB and its global network were on the scene, making the case for inclusive multilateralism and celebrating the hundredth anniversary of a key pillar of global cooperation, the International Labor Organization.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson helped ILO ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange on July 11, joined by officials from the ILO, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

“It was an honor to help celebrate the ILO’s centennial in such auspicious surroundings, and in a tripartite way,” said Robinson, who serves as the IOE’s regional vice president for North America. “Here’s to another hundred years of growth, opportunity and success for workers, employers and the societies they continue to help build.”

USCIB’s Peter Robinson speaks at the UN High-Level Political Forum.

Robinson also took part in the first week of UN meetings around the HLPF, with many more planned for this week as well. He appeared alongside IOE Deputy Secretary General Matthias Thorns at a panel discussion on “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.”

Robinson focused his remarks at the UN to emphasize three key elements that will provide an enabling environment allowing business to contribute the most:

  1. Improved governance and rule of law:“Some of the areas of the world in most need of business infusion are ones with big enough governance gaps that business has little incentive to invest; and trying to get business to shoulder the responsibilities that are primarily governmental in nature will be a further disincentive.”
  2. “Inclusive Multilateralism”:“Intergovernmental organizations must ensure that all voices are heard, and in particular must ensure that all business sectors have a seat at the table and prevent the arbitrary exclusion of interests—everyone has a role to play in solving societal challenges, and some of those sectors that many of you in the room might be most critical of, are in fact developing new and innovative approaches to furthering SDGs such as those related to health and climate”
  3. Governments need to facilitate public/private partnerships:“Since many institutions are not yet adequately structured or resourced to support the needed scale of working toward the SDGs, there is an urgent need to develop new and inclusive partnership models that engage business and other non-state actors as equal partners with government. This model will embrace innovation, mobilize resources and expertise, and create shared accountability and value.”

 

Robinson Speaks at ILO Conference, ICC-UK

USCIB’s Peter Robinson (far left) speaks at the annual meeting of ICC United Kingdom, chaired by ICC-UK Chairman Sir Michael Rake (center).

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took part in high-level panel discussions at the recent International Labor Conference, the ILO’s annual high-level gathering, as well as the annual general meeting of ICC-UK, the International Chamber of Commerce‘s chapter in the United Kingdom. At both events, he discussed new challenges of multilateralism in an era when some observers have called the multilateral model’s viability into question.

At the ILO, Robinson took part in a discussion of multilateral institutions and the future of work, alongside ILO Director General Guy Ryder, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos and Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, among others. He said that, from the perspective of employers, it is clear that businesses do well in stable and prosperous societies where inequality is not as rampant.

“The real question is whether governments, who are the ones to tackle inequality, are able to create the right kind of legal and regulatory frameworks to do so,” Robinson observed. “Global institutions need to continue to help governments by providing appropriate research and statistics and policy prescriptions – the OECD and ILO play important roles in those areas.”

The USCIB president called for an “inclusive multilateralism,” where all stakeholders are present and a climate of trust prevails. “Business wants to be part of the solution,” he said. “But we need to feel like we are listened to, and that we have a seat at the table. Just as we need more inclusive forms of economic growth, so we also need a more inclusive model of multilateralism, one that draws on the best ideas from broadly representative groups in civil society, including business and employers’ organizations.”

At the ICC-UK meeting, Robinson joined a panel on the future of the WTO and the multilateral trading system. He recalled recent USCIB papers on WTO modernization as well as the ongoing e-commerce negotiationsUSCIB’s vision for the WTO, he said, “focuses not only on strengthening existing agreements, but also on addressing subsidies and other market-distorting support provided to state-owned enterprises, the establishment of new rules for current issues such as digital trade and customs processes on electronic transmissions, and ensuring a properly functioning appellate body, among other issues. The U.S. has been a major beneficiary of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, bringing and winning more cases than any other WTO member.”

Robinson was also a guest at ICC-UK’s board meeting (as was Crispin Conroy, ICC’s new Geneva representative), where he provided an overview of USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.

USCIB Welcomes ILO Framework to Abolish Violence, Harassment in World of Work

USCIB VP for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog at the ILC

In addition to marking the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Centenary Anniversary, this year’s International Labor Conference (ILC) focused on the adoption of a new ILO Centenary Declaration and a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on Violence & Harassment in the World of Work. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog was on the ground leading USCIB’s U.S. Employer delegation, which represented USCIB member companies for the entire duration of the two-week ILC, taking place June 10-21 in Geneva, Switzerland. Herzog was joined by more than 5,700 delegates at the ILC, who were representing members of the respective groups that comprise the tripartite structure of the ILO – workers, governments and business.

USCIB engaged actively in both the Centenary Declaration and Violence & Harassment discussions, and was particularly pleased to be part of the successful adoption of the new Convention on Violence and Harassment. “Both violence and harassment are unacceptable behaviors that have no place in our societies – and especially not in our workplaces,” said Herzog in her remarks at the concluding ceremony of the ILC. “The Convention document is aspirational in its vision, as it should be for such an important and universal concern. The Convention also clarifies that for public and private employers to effectively work to eradicate these negative practices, such efforts must be commensurate with their degree of control.” 

Herzog also noted disappointment that ILC participants did not join the Employers group in sufficient numbers to ensure that LGBTI would be explicitly cited in the new ILO instruments for protection. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and protection from violence and harassment applies to all people, without exception,” stressed Herzog. “As we enter the second century of the ILO’s history, we call upon the Secretary-General Guterres of the United Nations and Director General Ryder of the ILO to be unwavering in their work to bring added and necessary clarity to international instruments to ensure that they are truly inclusive so that ALL PEOPLE may be protected from violence, harassment and discrimination EVERYWHERE,” Herzog contended.

According to Herzog, adoption of an ILO Convention by the ILC is a clearly a great accomplishment, especially on such an important topic as violence & harassment. Even more important, however, will be for governments to take the next step to actually ratify the convention because that would trigger a responsibility for governments to modify their domestic laws to give effect to the provisions within any new ILO convention. This will be a critical next step if we want to see the needed changes to eliminate violence and harassment in countries and workplaces around the world.  

Still, the passage of the Convention and Recommendation, together with the Centenary Declaration, constitute important steps in tackling issues that have, are, and will affect governments, employers and workers.  Looking to the ILO’s coming 100 years, Herzog stated at the ILC, “We must all continue to respect the value and context of social dialogue and other labor relations systems in helping to navigate change.  As the ILO’s founders wisely understood 100 years ago, open and honest tripartite dialogue, based on trust and political will, can be an important tool for finding shared solutions and facilitating the implementation of reforms geared towards the future.”

 

World Chambers Congress Tackles Key Development Issues

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) concluded its 11th World Chambers Congress on June 14, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year’s Congress included three days of engagement among over 1,000 delegates on key issues affecting chambers and their respective business communities.

The Congress focused on four main initiatives, including a sustainable future for all, skills for the future, financial inclusion and the World Chambers Competition. “This year’s event was a huge step forward in engaging the chambers network more actively and cohesively in ICC’s global work – with great buy-in for our five campaigns and a growing interest in how ICC can help chambers redefine their value proposition in a market that is undergoing significant disruption,” reflected ICC Secretary General John Denton.

Denton also highlighted a new initiative as part of ICC’s campaign to “Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business.” The “Chambers Climate Coalition” provides a platform for chambers to visibly demonstrate their commitment to take action aligned with the Paris Agreement and the latest climate science. It also provides an opportunity to showcase the important role Chambers can play in driving the transition to a cleaner and more resilient planet. More than 450 chambers from six continents have already signed-up for the Coalition – with signatories from countries including China, India, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States.

“We are already rallying other chambers to sign on and will be providing toolkits to signatories to ensure effective local climate engagement in the coming months,” said Denton. The Coalition has received strong support from the United Nations Secretary General’s team and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

USCIB Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly attended the meetings on behalf of USCIB.

The next Congress will be held in Dubai in 2021.