Robinson Joins Business, Health and Employer Experts at IOE Event on COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention

Left to right: Roberto Suarez Santos, Guy Ryder, Susan Hopgood, Peter Robinson

As employers remain on the frontline of the pandemic response, caught between calls to mandate vaccination in the workplace and demands to respect the decisions on vaccination of the individual, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) hosted a timely dialogue, “COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention.”

The October 5 event brought together foremost experts from the health, employer and business fields, including World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, ILO Director General Guy Ryder, IOE President Roberto Suarez Santos and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, among others, to discuss this delicate balance, as well as the increasingly complicated situation in developing countries around access to vaccines, in addition to vaccine hesitancy. Panelists focused on a central question: how can employer organizations help companies navigate all these complex and politically charged issues?

Swaminathan outlined the stark realities of COVID-19 and the continued challenges of distribution and access to vaccines worldwide, while DG Ryder acknowledged some of the key dilemmas facing society and employers: in addition to the inequality in distribution and access, the question of mandates and of privacy, for example, is an employer empowered to know the vaccine status of employees? As an employer representative, Robinson discussed the responsibility employers have in vaccine literacy and COVID response and recovery, particularly following the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that employers—not “Big Business” but employers in general—were felt by employees to be one of the most trusted messengers of information on Covid response.

“While there have been fears of a mass exodus of people quitting and not returning to work, preliminary results show that people are following suit—trusting their employer and government—and getting vaccinated and returning to work to protect health and liberty,” said Robinson. “Recent surveys show that the public supports employers who work to protect society by requiring vaccination as a condition of entry to work. This is in sync with global efforts supporting governments to provide equitable vaccination access so that no one gets left behind.”

Robinson also referenced The USCIB Foundation’s initiative “Business Partners to CONVINCE”, or “BP2C”, designed to encourage and support employers worldwide in making the case for vaccination.

“I would like to take the opportunity to express special thanks for the support of IOE, whose role is and will be especially critical given its extensive range of employer organization members particularly as vaccines become more available in developing countries,” added Robinson. “Looking ahead, as the debate on credentials, passports, verification schemes and other ideas advance, we continue to support efforts to strategically engage business and government bodies to effectively communicate to build vaccine confidence and help galvanize support for re-normalizing a COVID-protected world. We are hopeful for a robust recovery in 2022.  Yet, if we do not work together to advance vaccine access, literacy, and uptake globally, we could face barriers for building back better. We could hit the wall and fall short of vaccination goals. Yet, I remain convinced we can find a way with business, employers and the private sector helping to forge the way forward with our efforts such as this event and in collaboration with our social partners.”

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.

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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.

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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.

USCIB Meets With Ngozi to Enhance Synergies Between WTO and US Industry

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO and USCIB Trustee Suzanne Clark hosted a meeting of top U.S. trade association leaders on September 22 with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in advance of the WTO ministerial meeting (MC12) in December. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson attended for USCIB, accompanied by Alice Slayton Clark, director of Investment, Trade and China. The intimate gathering provided an opportunity to enhance synergies and understanding between the WTO and U.S. industry, a goal for the new director general.

Dr. Ngozi repeated her continued concerns about the viability of the WTO, and the need to produce concrete results at the MC12 on fishery subsidies, food security, trade and health/access to vaccines, as well as the joint statement initiatives on e-commerce and services domestic regulations. Robinson noted the multifaceted challenges facing vaccine access, and urged reduction of trade and regulatory barriers to distribution and administration as the most important approach. He emphasized a letter USCIB sent to Dr. Ngozi this summer on this issue, co-signed by the Chamber and BusinessEurope, among others.

In addition, Robinson stressed USCIB interest in revitalizing and expanding negotiations on an environmental goods agreement that were sidelined in 2016 largely over concerns about the definition of products to be included. Other USCIB priorities were also raised during the meeting, including: concerns about industrial subsidies, dispute settlement procedures, and special and differential treatment; and support for the science of agricultural biotechnology and extension of the e-commerce moratorium. There was a good deal of consensus on many of these key issues among the participants.

Robinson also expressed support for the initiatives to work with the WTO in improving the global trading system that are underway in the three global business organizations with which USCIB is affiliated, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC).

USCIB’s member companies rely on the WTO as the multilateral forum for resolving trade disputes and expanding market access for selling goods and services overseas. It urges the Biden Administration to take a leadership role at the MC12 in reforming and updating the WTO so it can remain a viable source for trade adjudication and liberalization in the decades to come.

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

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA76) on September 23. The Summit launched bold new actions as part of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to USCIB Senior Vice President Brian Lowry, the goal of the Food Systems 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.

The U.S. government supported the UN Food Systems Summit and participated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Recognizing that sustainable productivity growth and climate-smart agriculture are essential to sustainable food systems, the United States 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 is part of the SPG Coalition.

“USCIB proudly joins an influential group of companies and industry associations such as the Agricultural Retailers Association, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and countries including the United States, Australia, Brazil, non-governmental organizations, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to become part of the SPG Coalition to achieve a common goal of a sustainable food system and resource conservation and help combat challenges such as food security,” said Lowry. “We look forward to working with the United States, the FAO, and other stakeholders on this critical effort for future generations.”

USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

On the eve of the United Nations Food Systems and Nutrition Summit on September 23, 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 September 21 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 Senior Vice President 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, who also chairs the USCIB 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.

Together, these experts discussed how industry is responding through strategy, science, and sustainability; the types of complementary solutions that are under development within value chains, and how new ways of thinking and working together can be applied to support such efforts; the views of younger generations and how younger consumers are changing the landscape around the sustainable food revolution; and how we can incorporate alternative sources of food and proteins into the future of sustainable farming and how to factor in climate change, and subsequently, climate action.

In closing, Lowry said, “Welcome to the starting line of what is clearly and important race  – a marathon – to transform the global food system.  I am thrilled to be at the start of this marathon with such an impressive and passionate group of people. People who do not want to watch it happen, but want to make it happen.”

USCIB Event at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Countering Global Challenges

Top: Brian Lowry (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB) Bottom: Michele Parmelee (Deloitte), Hans-Jorn Weddige (Business at OECD)

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 to organize a virtual discussion titledReinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.” The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Ester Baiget, Novozymes chief executive, and USCIB Trustee and Sustainability Champion, opened the event. “We must drive the change we want to see together,” said Baiget in her opening remarks.

Other USCIB Board members, namely Michele Parmelee (Deloitte) and John Frank (Microsoft), also served as speakers, on climate change, business and human rights, and on new ways for the business community to engage with and strengthen the effectiveness of the multilateral system en route to a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

UNGA76 convenes at a time of multiple challenges, which are putting the multilateral system to the test and raising questions about the resilience of the UN and such basic values of democracy, rule of law and inclusive societies. The event focused on three fireside chats, specifically aligning with key priorities of the President of the UN General Assembly —climate change and environment; human rights and business; pandemic response and recovery.

“UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently issued a report, ‘Our Common Agenda,’ clearly highlighting the need to reinvigorate multilateralism,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Business is ready to work with the international community and contribute to ‘break throughs’ that protect people and planet.”

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.

Speakers included:

Robin Ogilvy, OECD Special Representative and Permanent Observer to the UN

Matthias Thorns, IOE Deputy Secretary General

Dr. Scott Ratzan, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation

Larry O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law School

Fernando Ylanes Almanza President, Social Security Commission, CONCAMIN

Business Partners to CONVINCE Supports Global Workplace Vaccine Requirements

New York, N.Y., August 02, 2021—Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees, released a statement commending the Biden administration’s announcement on July 29 that it will require all federal employees to attest their vaccination status or be subject to masking, social distancing and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The following statement was made by Scott Ratzan MD, executive director of Business Partners to CONVINCE, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation:

“As COVID-19 vaccination rates wane for a variety of reasons, the COVID delta variant is spreading globally. With vaccination as our principal hope to stem the pandemic, we are pleased by the Biden administration’s decision to require federal employees and onsite contractors to get safe and effective vaccines. We encourage all eligible Americans to get fully vaccinated. We welcome opportunities to work with government, business and civil society to help achieve the vaccination levels for community immunity.

“We call on BP2C’s vast global network, which consists of organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Business at OECD (BIAC), Vaccines Europe, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to support their local governments across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America in communication and education initiatives around COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and the best way forward out of this pandemic and towards economic recovery.

“We applaud BP2C steering team partner the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as well as USCIB members Facebook, Google, The Walt Disney Company, Walmart and Uber that have announced new requirements to encourage vaccinations among their workers and ensure a safe workplace. We encourage other companies to do the same and we stand ready to offer resources and communications strategies to employers about vaccine literacy.”

ABOUT BUSINESS PARTNERS TO CONVINCE: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), The USCIB Foundation, and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) have launched Business Partners to CONVINCE, a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees. The new partnership will play an integral role in a broader, global CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) campaign to advance vaccine literacy and help ensure a strong and swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread acceptance of safe, effective and accessible vaccines.

ABOUT THE USCIB FOUNDATION: The USCIB Foundation is the research and educational arm of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). The principal purpose of the Foundation is to carry out research and educational activities designed to promote and advance the benefits of a free-market economy and to demonstrate and document the role of the corporate private sector in economic growth and social development.

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated in an outreach event on July 6 convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The Global Dialogue on Trade; Trade, An Essential Piece of the of the Food Systems Puzzle was curated by Dr. David Nabarro and convened to encourage an informal dialogue and exchange of views amongst invited participants, representing a broad range of stakeholders from government, civil society, business, farmers, academia and more.

A high-level opening plenary with WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dr. Alice Kalibata, was followed by discussions in ten breakout sessions amongst invited participants under Chatham House rules. Lowry participated in breakout discussion on Realizing the Human Right to Food, which was facilitated by Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food. Other sessions focused on topics such as, international trade in food in times of crisis, global agricultural value chains, nutrition security, ensuring sustainable food trade and food safety.

According to Lowry, no reports or outcomes will emerge from the discussions in the breakout rooms. A high-level closing plenary presented in broad terms some of the subjects discussed in the breakout sessions and included closing remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam.

USCIB-IOE United Nations Side-Event Focuses on Global Recovery, Private Sector Innovation

As in previous years, USCIB, as part of the recognized Business and Industry Major Group at the United Nations in New York, hosted a side-event during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Co-organized with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), this year’s event focused on private sector partnerships and contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and to powering a global recovery from the pandemic’s economic and social devastation.  A key element of this official HLPF business side-event was on encouraging and deploying business innovation.

The event brought together leaders from companies, employer organizations, the multilateral system, and more, to explore the innovative ways that business can be a valuable partner in defeating the pandemic, while restoring lost progress towards SDG’s. The event featured two panels; one focused on COVID-19 recovery and the second on private sector innovation, including on addressing climate change and the digital divide. USCIB speakers from Microsoft and Novozymes flagged the criticality of business engagement through partnerships with government, UN bodies and other stakeholders.

“Building forward better sustainably in the Decade of Action and Delivery will require a stronger than ever commitment to multi-stakeholder engagement and partnership,” said USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy. “Business is committed to the SDG’s, not only because implementing the 2030 Agenda is the right thing to do, but also because of the strong business case for doing so. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers business opportunities for new markets, job creation and sustainability solutions.”

Dr. Scott Ratzan provided an update on The USCIB Foundation’s initiative, “Business Partners to CONVINCE,” and its Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge, which is tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, especially in the work place.

According to Dr. Ratzan, “the private sector has been at the forefront of tackling the pandemic – from the historic race to develop vaccines, to opening premises to production of PPE and vaccination campaigns, to training and educating employees on public health and safety. Business has shown that it can and should be a meaningful partner in building back better, contributing not just funding, but innovation, expertise, technology, fresh ideas and diverse perspectives of business and employers, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, who are so crucial to economic growth at the local level.”

USCIB Welcomes Commitment by G7 to Inclusive Global Recovery

New York, N.Y., June 16, 2021—Following the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the G7’s resolute commitment in this time of crisis to a cooperative and inclusive global recovery built on democratic values, private sector partnership, open trade, investment and sustainability.

We are proud to embrace the G7’s enduring ideals of free open societies and democracies, and its support for inclusive multilateralism in action.

We agree that tackling root causes of human rights abuses and combatting failures of integrity and transparency are essential to any effort to build back better and importantly, to also provide the fullest possible access to healthcare and vaccines worldwide.

We are committed to eliminating forced labor and other human rights abuses from global supply chains, and to advance the uptake of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We applaud renewed attention on eradicating corruption as it erodes public trust in government, wastes resources and presents an obstacle to needed economic and social development and our shared vision of achieving the Paris Agreement and UN 2030 Goals.

We are inspired by USCIB members mobilizing to help meet the ongoing pandemic challenge. Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is essential to economic recovery; this urgent task will require production, as well as widespread distribution and administration of vaccines. The private sector serves as an important partner in this endeavor and can assist with vaccine-deployment strategies based on efficiency and equity. A sustainable, durable solution will address a host of issues, including: re-distribution of excess vaccine supplies to countries that face shortages; removing regulatory and trade barriers to vaccine production and distribution; efficient supply chain operations; procurement challenges; the potential risks associated with counterfeit and illicit trade in medical goods; and addressing hesitancy and misinformation about vaccines. While more needs to be done, the U.S. and G7 support for COVAX and Act-A are big steps in the right direction. Through Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), USCIB is advancing actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption while highlighting the vital role employers play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

We believe that private sector innovation and its wide deployment, whether in healthcare solutions, digital access or climate change, will be fundamental to attain the ambitious targets and actions set out in the communique. The G7 has emphasized the need for urgent reform and revitalization at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and incentivizing innovation as key priorities in all of these areas. We couldn’t agree more.

We appreciate the G7’s ongoing dialogue and cooperation with business, and thank the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for coordinating this year’s B7 process.