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-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 Letter to Trade Representative Tai Supports Greener Trade Policy

USCIB submitted a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai in response to Tai’s recent comments at the Center for American Progress Greening U.S. Trade Policy program. In her remarks, Tai outlined both the Biden Administration’s vision to green U.S. and multilateral trade policy and welcomed business engagement to share experience and ideas in this effort.

“We are keen to support a trade agenda that reinvigorates negotiations on environmental goods and services, addresses fossil fuel and fisheries subsidies, ensures compatibility between environmental and trade rules, and considers the circular economy holistically,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry.

Lowry added: “USCIB and its members understand that resource conservation is a critical environmental consideration and that a resilient supply chain must recognize and account for the finite supply of planetary resources.”

In line with the explicit recognition of the criticality of resource conservation, the letter emphasized that outdated trade policies and international rules that restrict cross border flows of used products and secondary material feedstock continue to be obstacles to effective and efficient resource recovery. Reducing these barriers, alongside the encouragement and implementation of environmentally sound options to recycle and recover waste, will enable creative solutions that work in synergy with trade rather than impose counter-productive barriers.

USCIB Encourages Biden Environmental Nominees to Engage on Multilateral Issues

New York, N.Y., December 18, 2020: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued a statement today by its President and CEO, Peter Robinson, commending the nominations of Michael Regan, for Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

“USCIB members are strongly committed to advancing environmental protection through innovation and investment in the global marketplace. We believe that EPA and CEQ play crucial roles in shaping U.S. international environmental policy, not just in connection with climate change but in other priority areas, such as pursuing nature-based solutions, circular economies and responsible chemicals risk management. 2021 will be a year of important decision-points in the multilateral system, looking ahead to the fifth UN Environment Assembly and eventual thirty-year anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit; vigorous U.S. engagement in those deliberations will be vital for economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“USCIB sees opportunities to pursue synergies across international and domestic actions for enhanced environmental benefits, and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delivering a recovery that improves environmental quality, creates jobs and stimulates public-private partnerships. Since 1992, USCIB has represented U.S. business in support of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement. In addition, USCIB has been the voice of American business at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and other multilateral environmental deliberations and forums. USCIB is fully committed to international cooperation and to partnership with our government to advance American private sector-driven economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad. In our view, it is critical to continue to focus on and champion substantive engagement of U.S. business across the UN system on key environmental topics.

“USCIB and its members are ready to assist the incoming Administration to develop and implement market-oriented environmental solutions and measures, working with the international community and in consultation with the American private sector. As the U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and with its own standing at the UNFCCC, UNEP and at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), USCIB is uniquely placed to scale and amplify these opportunities across the UN system, and in the OECD and the WTO.”

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. 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.

Policy Contact: VP for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy (nkennedy@uscib.org)

USCIB Congratulates Colombia on Formally Becoming OECD Member

Pictured from left: Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD (Photo: OECD/Victor Tonelli)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that Colombia has formally become an OECD Member as of April 28, 2020. Colombia is the 37th country to do so in the Organization’s near 60-year history.

According to the OECD, Colombia has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in 2013.

“Colombia is an important market for many companies, and we commend Colombia on successfully concluding this lengthy process and committing to the high standards of the OECD,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl. As the official voice representing U.S. business in this process, USCIB was actively involved in providing input into Colombia’s accession process via Business at OECD (BIAC), the official business voice at the OECD.

OECD Member countries formally invited Colombia to join the Organization in May 2018, following a five-year accession process during which it underwent in-depth reviews by twenty-three OECD Committees and introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards. These spanned the breadth of policy fields including labor issues, reform of the justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade, and the establishment of a national policy on industrial chemicals and waste management.

SAICM Advances Zero Draft for Post-2020 Chemicals Policy Framework

The third meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP3) was convened in Bangkok, Thailand, September 30 – October 4. Approximately 350 representatives of governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations attended the proceedings. USCIB was a member of the private sector delegation representing the views of downstream users of chemicals, and included Mike Michener, USCIB vice president for product policy and innovation.

SAICM was adopted in 2006 as a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. SAICM contains an ambitious goal to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that by the year 2020 chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health. As 2020 rapidly approaches governments, industry and other stakeholders have been examining progress towards that goal and discussing SAICM’s future beyond 2020, when its current mandate expires. USCIB members have been longstanding participants in SAICM discussions through the USCIB International Product Policy Working Group.

Participants continued their discussions on possible elements for a post-2020 platform for international cooperation on the sound management of chemicals and waste for consideration by the fifth meeting of SAICM’s governing body, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM 5) when it convenes in Bonn, Germany, in October 2020. According to Michener, the goal for IP3 was to develop, as far as possible, input for a “zero draft” for deliberation at the fourth and last IP meeting scheduled in Bucharest, Romania in March 2020.

Participants were organized into four “thematic groups” designed to develop recommendations for ICCM5 in the following areas:  targets, milestones and indicators; enhanced institutional arrangements; mechanisms to support implementation (including the science-policy interface and issues of concern); and financial considerations. At closing plenary, delegates heard reports from the thematic groups and from the various organizations that hosted the week’s sectoral meetings on health, agriculture, labor and environment.

“I am pleased to report that we are finally making some progress towards a zero draft agreement for SAICM Beyond 2020,” noted Michener. “While IP4 in Bucharest faces a very full agenda, I am optimistic. We may still have a lot of bracketed text to deal with, but there were many valuable conversations at IP3 that began to find common ground.”

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler hailed the intensive and fruitful deliberations as setting a firm foundation for work at IP4 and a large step toward a successful ICCM5. IP Co-Chair David Morin of Canada outlined the process for generating a “zero draft” for deliberations at IP4. Germany announced that it would host a special workshop before IP4 to discuss a possible enabling framework for the beyond-2020 platform, and Norway offered to help fund broad stakeholder participation in the workshop.

APEC Issues Next Steps for Improved Chemicals Cooperation

APEC CD Steering Group with USCIB’s Mike Michener in second row, fifth from right

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up its 23rd Chemicals Dialogue (CD23 or CD) on August 25 in Puerto Varas, Chile as part of the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM3). USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener attended the meetings, which spanned over three days, as representative of downstream users of chemicals and metals.

According to Michener, the meetings concluded with some concrete action items, including recommendations for economies to consider specific projects the CD could undertake to further contribute to the priorities of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, and for delegates to identify concrete proposals for potential CD projects and submit them to the CD for comment prior to CD24 in Malaysia’s host year. Additionally, APEC economies agreed to carry forward the recommendations generated by the risk assessment tabletop exercise, including work towards a commitment of mutual recognition of chemical risk assessments by competent authorities in other economies and APEC best practices and capacity-building to help economies apply those best practices. Finally, delegates were encouraged to provide additional case studies of approaches to overcoming challenges to the implementation of a risk-based approach to chemical management.

“Some key takeaways from a U.S. industry-organized workshop on August 23 to improve regulatory cooperation within Latin America focused on finding a regional industry counterpart, organizing a similar event for CD24 in Malaysia, and develop a CD-endorsed template for free trade agreements,” noted Michener.

Another important action item was a request that called for APEC economies to identify contributions that the CD has made toward implementation of the Boracay Action Agenda prior to its final evaluation in 2020, which will decide the future of the APEC Chemicals Dialogue.

USCIB Represents Members at UN Chemicals Conference

The Third Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) convened in Montevideo, Uruguay, April 2-4. Approximately 350 representatives of governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations attended the proceedings. USCIB was a member of the private sector delegation representing the views of downstream users of chemicals, and included Sophia Danenberg of Boeing, who also serves as chair of USCIB’s International Product Policy Working Group, and Mike Michener, USCIB vice president for product policy and innovation.

During the meeting, participants assessed progress by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) toward the global goal of achieving by 2020 the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. Delegates discussed the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, when the current mandate of the Strategic Approach is due to expire, and prepared for ICCM5, scheduled for  October 5-9, 2020 in Bonn, Germany. The OEWG also considered the planned activities and draft budget of the SAICM Secretariat for the period 2019-2020.

The assessment of progress included updates on activities regarding “emerging policy issues” and other issues of concern, including chemicals in products, lead in paint, nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials, hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants, highly hazardous pesticides, and perfluorinated chemicals. The progress assessment also looked at the implementation of the SAICM health sector strategy.

The OEWG3 discussions of a possible post-2020 framework was based on a discussion paper produced by the Co-Chairs of the intersessional process since ICCM4, in addition to discussion papers submitted during the session, one by the European Union and the other by the Latin American and Caribbean Group, African Group and several individual Asia-Pacific countries, regarding financial considerations in a post-2020 framework. OEWG3 produced a composite text that will be the subject of negotiations at the third meeting of the intersessional process, slated for September 30-October 3 in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Unfortunately, little progress was made on some of the unresolved issues, primarily the question of whether the post-2020 framework would include legally-binding elements or remain a voluntary capacity-building platform,” noted Michener. “There were also inconclusive discussions regarding competing ideas on financing the sound management of chemicals and waste, including mainstreaming the issue in national budgets and development plans, possible cost recovery options involving the private sector, and a possible new international fund on chemicals and waste. As such, it was decided that a fourth intersessional process (IP) meeting would be required to continue the negotiations, which Romania offered to host in early 2020.”

The UK also announced that it will host an expert meeting in August or September 2019 to prepare indicators on the sound management of chemicals and waste for consideration at ICCM5.

APEC Workshop Emphasizes Crucial Role of Business

L-R: Matías Pinto Pimente (Embassy of Chile), Monica Hardy Whaley (NCAPEC) at APEC Essentials Workshop

USCIB partnered with the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) and C&M International to host an APEC Essentials workshop on March 27 to help participants understand the fundamentals of APEC including its history, objectives and opportunities. The event, which attracted approximately 80 attendees, featured practical case studies led by industry discussants on how several sectors approach priority issues and leverage the APEC platform.

Private sector participation in APEC is organized under the leadership of the NCAPEC, which serves as the designated 2019 U.S. Strategic Partner for the CEO Summit, Secretariat to the U.S. members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and as Chair and Secretariat of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson makes remarks at the APEC Essentials Workshop

“APEC is an incubator where economies and business can come together in a non-competitive, mutually supportive way,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave welcoming remarks and moderated one of the panels. “APEC member economies do not need to worry about binding treaties but indirectly they can influence what’s going on in the world, such as in customs and trade and environmental goods. APEC sets an example. Too many international organizations are shutting out the private sector. APEC welcomes the private sector and other stakeholders and that’s one of the reasons it gets things done.”

USCIB addressed a number of issues through APEC to advance discussions across a range of issues including chemicals regulation, advertising self-regulation, data privacy, customs and digital trade. USCIB members and staff have engaged in several APEC working groups, including the Chemical Dialogue, APEC Business-Customs Dialogue, Customs Procedures Virtual Working Group, Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity, the Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup.

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation lead Megan Giblin, alongside Customs colleagues

The program featured Matías Pinto Pimente, head of the economic department and trade commissioner at the Embassy of Chile in Washington DC; Emily Fischer, principal APEC coordinator, economic policy advisor, U.S. Department of State; Jillian DeLuna, director for APEC affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Monica Hardy Whaley, president, National Center for APEC; and Ambassador Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive, Crowell & Moring International; Partner, Crowell & Moring; former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.

Chile will host this year’s APEC meetings.

USCIB Event Concludes With Action Plan to Promote Food Security and Nutrition Partnerships

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (center) speaks at the Rome event. USCIB food and agriculture lead Mike Michener (left)

With the future of food continuing to be a pressing global challenge and malnutrition profoundly affecting every country, The USCIB Foundation once again teamed up with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to organize a public-private partnerships dialogue to tackle malnutrition. The November 8-9 dialogue in Rome, Italy was a second in a series and was built on last year’s event in New York. USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson participated in the event alongside Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener. Robinson spoke at the opening session and took part in a fireside chat conversation with GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad, who is the winner of the 2018 World Food Prize.

This year’s event featured the theme of “Together for Nutrition: applying principles for public-private engagement.” The high-level dialogue explored practical and tangible ways to implement and scale coordinated initiatives to put the draft Principles, that were agreed upon last year, into practice. The program focused on both under-nutrition and the rise of overweight and obesity, as well as the associated diet related non-communicable diseases. Leaders of governments, development agencies, and the private sector from a wide range of countries, with a particular focus on developing countries with high burdens of malnutrition, participated in the dialogue.

This year’s event concluded with some important outcomes to help deliver results. GAIN and The USCIB Foundation are planning to take the Principles to donors such as developmental agencies, foundations, and companies interested in public-private partnerships. USCIB will also ask its member companies, with existing public-private partnerships to pilot the Principles of Engagement by applying them retroactively to the ongoing PPP. Michener, who leads USCIB’s work on food and healthcare, also emphasized the importance of engaging the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“We [GAIN and USCIB] will take the Principles to the Rome-based agencies, starting with a briefing for Permanent Representatives early in 2019, followed by the FAO Program Committee and the Executive Boards of WFP and IFAD,” he said. “We also plan to take the Principles to regional meetings, with the first meeting tentatively set for Africa in late 2019.”

Global food and agriculture constitute a US$7.8 trillion industry, employing up to 40 percent of the working population in many countries yet progress towards the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is too slow and the scale and complexity of the problem underscores the need for deepened collaboration and renewed commitment to improving nutrition outcomes for all, especially the most vulnerable,” according to Michener.

“Countries cannot achieve their SDG goals without an aligned, motivated and incentivized private sector as a key partner,” said Michener. “In this context, improved dialogue and collaboration between government, business, civil society and international organizations is crucial for guiding engagement and focusing efforts where they can have the most sustainable impact and long-term success.”