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.

Robinson Talks Policy With Senior State Department Leaders

USCIB’s Peter Robinson and Rob Mulligan meet with State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science Ambassador Marcia Bernicat

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson had three successful senior-level meetings at the U.S. Department of State this week. On August 5, Robinson and USCIB VP Shaun Donnelly met Ambassador Kevin Moley, who serves as assistant secretary for International Organization (IO) Affairs for a tour d ’horizon of shared interests across a wide range of UN and other international organizations. IO Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook joined the meeting. Much of the meeting focused on the shared objective of USCIB and the U.S. government of ensuring maximum access to and participation in international organizations for American and international business.

On August 6, Robinson, accompanied by Donnelly and USCIB SVP for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, followed up with a wide-ranging meeting with the new Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach, along with his new leadership team in the Undersecretary’s office. Finally, the three met with Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) Ambassador Marcia Bernicat to discuss climate change and other important environmental issues.

“I was very fortunate, especially in early August, to get three very high-level meetings at the State Department within twenty-four hours,” Robinson said. “Each meeting was uniquely useful for USCIB and our member companies. With Ambassador Moley and his leadership team in the IO Bureau, we were able to compare notes on a range of shared interests, many of them related for access for American and global business to important international organizations. From Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in multiple UN bodies, to global health at the WHO, to UN climate and environmental negotiations, the private sector has a vital role to play. We are very grateful for the strong support the U.S. Government and Ambassador Moley and his team have provided us at USCIB. Although our USCIB team and member companies have worked closely with Ambassador Bernicat over her year on the job in OES, this my first chance to meet her personally.  We had a good, candid exchange on the challenge confronting the U.S. Government, American business, and the world in the climate and environmental areas. We will be working very closely with her going forward on a range of important issues.

“I especially appreciate all the time new Undersecretary Krach and his ‘E office’ leadership team spent with us today. We touched on a lot of important areas for cooperation going forward, from trade and technology to economic security and international organizations, including the OECD. Undersecretary Krach brings a very impressive private sector background to his new role as the senior economic policy official at the State Department. I assured him that USCIB stands ready to assist him and his team on any and all issues.”

Staff Contacts:

VP, Investment & Financial Services Shaun Donnelly (202.682.1221)

VP, Strategic International Engagement, Energy & Environment Norine Kennedy (212.703.5052)

USCIB Joins Congressional Lobby Days to Push for USMCA

USCIB joined the effort of the USMCA Coalition in its most recent Congressional Lobby Days just ahead of August recess, which reached more than 100 House offices. USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl joined a group which met exclusively with House Democratic offices July 24-25. According to Hampl, representatives noted that they understood the importance of USMCA for the economic future of the U.S.

The Coalition referenced the July 23 letter signed by over 600 business associations across the country in pushing for urgent Congressional approval of USMCA.

There was a keen interest in the USMCA working group of House Democrats, which was established last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address some Democrats’ lingering concerns about issues in the agreement, specifically on labor, environment, enforcement and pharmaceutical pricing. While there were varying views on the substance of those discussions, there was general approval of the process. Many are looking to Pelosi for next steps. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team continue to meet with members of the working group. Discussions have been described as productive, and the Coalition has urged all parties to continue this important work during the August recess. The Senate remains in session this week.

“The Coalition is emphasizing the urgent need for action to move the agreement through Congress,” said Hampl. Hampl also noted that approval will depend on a collaborative approach.

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on USMCA today (July 30) and is featuring auto industry, agribusiness, transportation, dairy, and small business representatives, as well as a witness focusing on labor policy. For a list of witnesses please click here.

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.”

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.

ICC Celebrates 100 Years, Sets Out Vision for Next Century

L-R: Peter Robinson (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Thomas Pletscher (ICC Switzerland)

The International Chamber of Commerce, the oldest and largest component of USCIB’s global business network, celebrated its centennial at a gala event in Paris on May 28. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Vice President Norine Kennedy were among the hundreds of attendees.

The world business organization was founded in 1919, out of the ashes of World War One, under a commitment by international business to build bridges through cross-border trade and investment and to serve as “merchants of peace.”

On behalf of its 45 million companies worldwide, ICC issued a declaration setting out a vision to shape the future of global business for the next century.

Mirroring the call by ICC’s founders, the declaration sets out guiding principles for ICC as a purpose-driven international organization, working with renewed purpose to “make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.”

Listing a number of potential upheavals facing the global community – including climate change, digital transformations and rising inequality – the ICC declaration states: “In the years ahead, these disruptions will become increasingly pronounced in the absence of concerted action by global leaders to mitigate negative outcomes and drive collective solutions.”

Click here to read more and get the full declaration.

Ahead of ICC’s Centennial Summit, ICC launched a new work program to fulfill commitments set out in the Centenary Declaration. Leveraging ICC’s global membership in over 100 countries, ICC will execute the work program through five newly created and versatile knowledge hubs deploying five pivotal campaigns to enable business worldwide to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.

“Faced with pressing global challenges in the 21st century, ICC and the global business community can – and must – do more as a force for good in the world,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton. “We will respond to this imperative with brave and bold action to meet the ambition of our renewed purpose.”

US Business Launches ‘All In’ Initiative to Advance Business Engagement for Global Goals Implementation

Geneva Week roundtable

USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first ‘All In’ Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. USCIB’s ‘All In” Initiative seeks to launch a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes.

Over fifty participants from Geneva-based diplomatic missions, UN bodies, NGOs and business joined the event, including:

  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
  • Chargé d’affaires, ad Interim, of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations Mark Cassayre
  • Secretary General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder
  • Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi
  • UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Julian Braithwaite
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Expert panelists from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO),UNICEF, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UN Global Compact and the Partnering Initiative reflected on two themes that were raised in All In Discussion Starter papers:

Public Private Partnerships with the UN – Designing for SDG impact

Leveraging public private sector cooperation on technical and scientific knowledge for targeted SDG implementation

“The event highlighted the diverse variety of working arrangements to engage with non-state actors and the private sector,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Environment and Energy Norine Kennedy. “Through the “All In” initiative USCIB will draw on its long experience in the multilateral system to highlight what has worked well and to flag areas where further partnership, improvement and strengthening are needed to speed up and scale SDG impact. “

Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok and other UN cities, on additional themes, including metrics for impact, infrastructure investment for SDG action and economic empowerment and inclusion. Based on this series of discussions throughout 2019, ‘All In’ will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

The ‘All In’ roundtable took place in conjunction with USCIB’s second annual Geneva Week, May 6-9.

USCIB Geneva Week Highlights US Business Priorities for Inclusive Multilateralism

USCIB Geneva Week delegation

A delegation of USCIB members joined USCIB’s second annual Geneva Week May 6 – 9 to highlight U.S. business priority issues, underscore USCIB’s continuing commitment to engage constructively in the multilateral system and advance U.S. innovation and partnership for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). USCIB also held its public launch of the ‘All In’ Initiative in Geneva on May 8, with a luncheon and roundtable discussion on inclusive multilateralism, SDGs and business.

USCIB Geneva Week provided an opportunity to discuss with diplomatic missions and UN entities enhanced access to intergovernmental organizations and to foster increased engagement between the public and private sectors. Geneva Week included meetings with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as bilateral meetings with a range of national missions, including the United States, Brazil, Ethiopia and Japan. The USCIB delegation was welcomed by the Director General of World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO) Francis Gurry and took part in a series of thematic briefings and discussions with other WIPO officials.

USCIB’s Geneva Week delegation included representatives from AB InBev, Bayer, BIO, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, Ferrero, Mastercard, and PepsiCo. USCIB Vice Presidents Norine Kennedy and Mike Michener, Senior Director for Membership Alison Hoiem and Policy and Program Assistant Mia Lauter supported the group in meetings throughout the course of the week.

Members also joined a Geneva Business Dialogue at the World Trade Organization (WTO), hosted by theInternational Chamber of Commerce (ICC), ICC Switzerland and USCIB.  Joining a panel of speakers from the government of Switzerland and the EU Mission were private sector representatives from Nestle, Novartis and Ab InBev to highlight opportunities to create shared value using the SDGs as a framework.

Senior Vice President of Ferrero U.S.A. Gerald Kunde, who also chaired the delegation, was pleased with the outcome. “The USCIB team did an amazing job organizing and executing Geneva Week and the ‘All In’ Roundtable,” said Kunde. “Relationships are at the heart of our business. This year’s program advanced existing relationships, established new ones and greatly enhanced the private sector’s commitment to inclusive multilateralism.”

“Connecting members to key multilateral leaders and representatives of member states in important UN cities like Geneva is a fundamental part of USCIB’s policy work,” said Michener.  “We are very satisfied with the both the level and content of our engagement this week, and grateful to our members for their interest and active participation.”

USCIB will prepare a summary report of USCIB Geneva Week meetings for members and will begin to plan follow-up meetings for relevant committees with the Administration to consider next steps.

UN Partnership Forum Underscores Improving Relationship with Business

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohamed opened the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum with a reminder to Forum participants that “we are all development actors.” The 2019 Forum, held at the UN headquarters in New York, convened representatives from governments, across the UN system, NGOs and business to share experiences on how to design and promote successful effective partnerships and how partnerships can advance the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 SDGs.

Ann Cairns, vice chairman of Mastercard, highlighted the necessity of enabling frameworks for partnerships, stating that the challenge is to “build out an ecosystem that works, country by country, for partnerships, and people have to be able to use that system.”

Three main sessions considered:

  • How to build effective country level partnership platforms
  • Multi-stakeholder partnership as a lever for inclusion and impact
  • Raising ambition for UN associated-partnerships

Norine Kennedy, who leads USCIB work on strategic international engagement, energy and environment, spoke on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), to draw attention to the importance of pursuing open, transparent and inclusive business involvement in informing and advancing UN outcomes and initiatives.

“In light of the substantial challenges ahead in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we should open the doors wide to partnership with the private sector,” stated Kennedy.

The Partnership Forum is part of the annual round of UN 2030 Agenda related meetings leading up to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF). While the HLPF holds deliberations on clusters of SDGs year by year, SDG 17 on partnerships is reviewed every year. Framed as a goal to “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development,” SDG17 is being re-interpreted to emphasize partnerships with the full variety of non-governmental actors, including the private sector.