Diversity in the Workplace Amid Topics at Annual Engaging Business Forum

USCIB co-organized the twelfth annual Engaging Business Forum on Human Rights on October 7, however due to COVID-19 precautions, the usual two-day forum was condensed into a virtual event. Hosted by The Coca-Cola Company every year since 2008, the Forum has gathered hundreds of practitioners to discuss leading issues at the intersection of business and human rights. Despite the virtual nature of the forum, this year was no different in terms of interest and engagement by over 500 leading practitioners.

With opening remarks from The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO James Quincy and a keynote address from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, as well as the International Labor Organization Director General Guy Ryder, participants were guided through a program that included discussion of the increasingly important role of business in respecting human rights as the world works towards a post-COVID-19 recovery that is sustainable for all. As in years past, USCIB led some of the discussions; USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog contributed her expertise on the panel “Diversity at the Workplace and Beyond – What Now Needs to Happen?”

“Diversity covers a range of factors, including age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, culture and disability,” said Herzog. “Our goal today is to explore the connection between diversity and business and human rights, as well as to bring heightened awareness of the critical role companies play in advancing progress.”

Herzog was joined on her panel by President and CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights Jill Savitt, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights Anita Ramasastry, Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy Cherie Blair and Global Chief Diversity Officer, The Coca-Cola Company Lori George Billingsley.

The Forum was co-organized by the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and hosted by The Coca-Cola Company.

US Government and USCIB Look Forward to OECD Virtual Ministerial  

OECD member country high-level delegations will meet remotely October 28-29 for three-hour daily sessions of roundtable discussions following the postponement of its annual late-May Ministerial in Paris due to COVID-19. The abbreviated agenda for the Ministerial focuses on global and national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including through trade and investment, sustainability and international cooperation. USCIB is preparing for the Ministerial, including active participation as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) team in OECD preparatory high-level roundtables over the course of the fall.

Meanwhile, U.S. Government preparations for the Ministerial are being led by the Department of State—Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Environment and Energy Keith Krach will likely head U.S. Government participation. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will chair the Ministerial sessions, and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria will also play a major role in the Ministerial deliberations.

USCIB Vice Presidents and Acting Policy Co-leads Norine Kennedy and Mike Michener consulted on the Ministerial agenda with senior staff at the Department of State and the U.S. Mission to the OECD in Paris on October 13.

“We were able to underline USCIB and international business priorities, emphasizing the role the private sector can play in restoring global economic growth and the contribution of U.S. business to COVID-19 response and recovery in that context,” said Kennedy. “Open, transparent trade and investment regimes advancing rule of law and substantive U.S. business engagement to develop, resource and deploy sustainability and COVID-19 solutions are key to enabling economic recovery.”

BIAC, with strong USCIB leadership, has been actively contributing to preparations for the OECD Virtual Ministerial. USCIB provided substantive input and expertise into the BIAC policy submission to the OECD and for the September 14 consultation for the Ministerial.  Rick Johnston from Citi (who also chairs the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee and serves as a vice chair of the BIAC Board), played a key role in BIAC’s October 7 Board meeting, which reviewed how best to represent the business agenda and priorities for the Ministerial.

“We at USCIB are encouraged that the OECD is persevering with its Ministerial this year, albeit in an abbreviated virtual format,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson.  “And we fully support the focus on national and international actions, measures and international cooperation that can drive economic recovery.  The private sector, led by USCIB member companies, can play a vital role in driving that growth and job creation. The BIAC Statement, Economic Recovery: Strong, Resilient, Green and Inclusive, reflects USCIB priorities, highlighting the importance of technology-neutral, all-of-economy measures that balance economic, social and environment considerations as countries enact stimulus measures.”

Hampl Joins BIAC-OECD Discussion on Building Resilient Supply Chains

USCIB joined Business at OECD (BIAC) for a joint meeting on October 7 with the OECD to discuss building resilience in global supply chains to ensure that trade and investment can contribute to a robust, inclusive and sustainable recovery.

BIAC raised some key messages, such as the economic fallout from COVID-19 which has highlighted the need to strengthen supply chain resilience amid significant disruptions and containment measures that were especially stark during the early phase of the pandemic. BIAC added that because OECD work has demonstrated the gains from deepening and expanding international specialization in global value chains, the Organization should provide an important evidence-base on how countries can better prepare for future crises without disrupting global value chains and imposing restrictions at a time where global trade and investment are essential elements for innovation, job creation and getting our economies back on track.

Eva Hampl, who is leading USCIB’s work on trade and investment, participated in the conversation along with several USCIB members including from Apple, DHL, JPMorgan, Walmart and Pfizer.

In her remarks, Hampl noted the critical role of government cooperation as business is working to strengthening supply chains. “Consistency and predictability is critical for business,” said Hampl. “That’s why government cooperation and engagement with business is necessary to find effective solutions. This is where the OECD can provide crucial value by facilitating the conversation between business and governments.

Hampl Discusses Role of Open Markets, Inclusive Multilateralism in COVID-19 Recovery

USCIB Senior Director for Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided a U.S. business perspective at the Joint Conference on Reviving the Global Economy by Opening Markets and Enhancing Cooperation. The event was co-organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on September 28.  During her panel, Hampl discussed what USCIB has been focusing on to advance open markets and an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been active in all available forums to advocate that governments refrain from misusing the COVID-19 pandemic to adopt arbitrary, discriminatory or protectionist policies which only disrupt supply chains and put further strains on the economy – this also includes measures already in place that are now being justified by the pandemic,” said Hampl. “We consistently emphasize the crucial role of open trade and global value chains as fundamental drivers to recover from this global crisis.”

Hampl also discussed longer-term solutions, such as diversifying supply chains, so that global issues, such as a pandemic, do not endanger the reliable supply of necessary goods and services.

According to Hampl, the pandemic has highlighted the transformative power of digital technologies.

“Companies across all sectors stepped up to work closely with governments and other stakeholders to respond to urgent medical, economic and social needs by deploying and driving digital technology solutions,” said Hampl. “Looking ahead, digital technologies have the potential to shape the sustainable recovery from the pandemic. This also includes accelerating the digitization of government services such as licensing, permitting, tax collection and procurement.”

Hampl also emphasized the importance of global cooperation through multilateral institutions and discussed the role of inclusive multilateralism in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A COVID-19 response must be an ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” she noted. “When USCIB advocates for multilateralism, we mean multilateralism that promotes peace, cooperation and social justice, relies on effective and transparent multilateral bodies, advances collaborative approaches among states, encourages international dialogue and cooperation to design and implement effective policies and, finally, engages business across all sectors and other stakeholders in substantive dialogue and partnerships.

To view the video in English, please click here.

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us About Digital Transformation of the Economy

USCIB released a thought piece with concrete policy recommendations on “What COVID-19 has Taught Us About Digital Transformation of the Economy: Early Lessons Learned,” with a specific focus on the role of digital technologies, including on the issues of infrastructure, connectivity, capacity building and the digital divide, data flows and trust, as well as on the importance of Artificial Intelligence. To download, please click here.


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the transformative power of digital technologies. These cutting-edge technologies not only have enabled real-time information exchanges about the virus, but also have facilitated the provision of critical medical services and government financial support for business and individuals as well as provided a means of continuing commercial and economic activity. The ability to connect online has served as a lifeline to literally millions of global citizens anxious for safe, virtual social engagement and a way to continue their children’s education, among other societal needs.

Responding quickly to the global crisis, companies across all sectors stepped up to work closely with governments and other stakeholders to deploy and drive digital technology solutions in response to these urgent medical, economic, and social needs. Whether it be via AI-powered applications, enhanced broadband connectivity, cloud computing services, data and cybersecurity or other digital technologies, companies in all sectors have been proving how important digital technology is for the health and well-being of all.

Even more important, digital technologies have the potential to shape a sustainable recovery from the pandemic, including accelerating the digitization of such government services as licensing, permitting, tax collection and procurement. Key to realizing this, however, is a policy framework that creates an enabling environment for investment in technology innovation and deployment. Such policies may address economic, social/cultural, technical, and governance issues, all of which are interlinked and cross-cutting. This holistic approach will best enable development of a secure digital infrastructural foundation to realize greater resilience and preparedness in the face of whatever natural or man-made challenge we may face going forward.

As of September 2020, the COVID-19 virus still was far from under control – and was anticipated to remain a challenge well into 2021.  U.S. business regards the following issues as key early lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. These lessons will require the urgent attention of policymakers to address healthcare, employment, education, commercial, and economic development needs in the near-term. Equally important, is imperative that we accelerate policy implementation in order to realize the best chance of a soft landing and solid return to commercial and economic activity when the pandemic eventually has been conquered through rigorous scientific means.

Infrastructure, Connectivity, and Spectrum – Public policies should focus on fostering robust connectivity. The benefits of digital transformation in responding to a global crisis can only be realized if there is adequate broadband infrastructure and spectrum.  In addition, the availability of licensed spectrum for exclusive use and shared use as well as unlicensed use has an important and complementary role in promoting the accessibility of the Internet and its developmental potential. There are many important uses of spectrum, including broadcast and mobile broadband as well as for Wi-Fi.

Policy Recommendation – Governments should incentivize investment in broadband technologies and streamline regulatory policies in order to facilitate broadband deployment, focusing on under-served areas. In addition, effective and technologically neutral management of spectrum – and increasingly scarce resource — must be a priority for policymakers while ensuring the integrity of services offered by existing spectrum license holders.

Capacity Building and Bridging the Digital Divide – The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the gap between the digital “haves” and “have nots,” the latter group suffering most acutely from the virus access to healthcare and medical resources. In a 2017 report, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) found that while more than 7 billion people now have access to voice services, more than 70 per cent of those living in the least developed countries (LDCs) still cannot afford a basic Internet connection, and less than half the people in the world regularly use the Internet.

Policy Recommendation – In order to proactively safeguard against the devastating effects of future crises, the global community must join in building digital and connectivity capacity in developing countries as well as enabling the necessary digital skills, especially for marginalized communities, to fully utilize internet connectivity.

Closing the E-Government Utilization Gap – Related to the above, the pandemic also exposed significant gaps in the ability of our governments to pivot online quickly to provide services.  Government services simply have not digitized fast enough or taken full advantage of the availability of broadband to improve their customer service, capacity, resiliency, adaptability, transparency, and security. Not only is the physical infrastructure lacking, but the rules for provisioning virtual services and teleworking for government employees remain unclear as well.  Given the demonstrated capacity and capability of our networks, governments are suffering from a utilization diffusion lag, which particularly harms marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Policy Recommendation – Governments should take aggressive steps to address their technology utilization gaps and leverage the capacity and capability of networks to conduct government business and offer online citizen services. In doing so, governments should ensure data and cybersecurity are prioritized to protect government and citizen information and harness the benefits of cloud computing for operational efficiency. To speed the rebuilding of the economy, governments should prioritize the digitization of the licensing and permitting process, such as in construction, to provide rapid stimulus to a global economy slowed by COVID-19. Governments also should leverage public-private partnerships and invest in the development, deployment, and procurement of digital services for the benefit of their citizens.

Data Flows and Trust – U.S. business embraces the view that the free flow of data and information is critical for economic development and addressing societal needs. The pandemic underscored the imperative for medical professionals around the world to share data in real-time critical to containing and mitigating the virus. That could not happen if a country’s policies hampered data flows. At the same time, however, U.S. business realizes that the medical, economic and other societal benefits enabled by data flows will only be embraced by consumers, businesses, and governments who trust the online environment. Users must feel confident that the privacy of their personal data will be respected and that their online systems are secure.

Policy Recommendation – Business believes that trust in the online environment is best achieved through risk-based and globally interoperable approaches to privacy and security protections. These conditions will ensure that data free flows with trust, an approach endorsed by the G20 countries in 2019.

Data and Cybersecurity – The importance of data and cybersecurity to the accelerated digital transformation brought on by the pandemic should not be understated.  As business and government networks have become more decentralized with remote work, new data and cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities have emerged. Organizational leaders have needed to ensure they are extending the same security capabilities and best practices in their enterprise networks to all at-home network environments, leveraging cloud-delivered security technologies to do so rapidly and at scale. The pandemic has reshaped many global governments’ understanding of critical infrastructure and “essential” services, to better recognize the complex and interdependent nature of modern supply chains and that data and cybersecurity are essential to business continuity. 

Policy Recommendation – Governments should recognize the criticality of cybersecurity to continuity of essential services across all critical infrastructure sectors; help educate businesses and citizens about data and cybersecurity risk management and their respective responsibilities related to secure remote networking; incentivize the use of cloud-delivered security to enable secure remote workforces and schools at scale; and promote greater voluntary sharing of cyberthreat information and online safety best practices.

E-Commerce and Delivery of Essential Goods and Services – While the COVID-19 crisis accelerated digital transformation in general, the accelerated progress was especially evident with respect to the online sale and provision of goods and services. E-commerce driven by large companies and SMEs alike helped to ensure economic continuity especially during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Policy Recommendation – Policies should be reviewed and updated, if necessary, to ensure that they do not impede expeditious online provision of goods and services, including public sector services.

Importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The pandemic highlighted how AI could be used to control the impacts of the virus as well as aid mitigation. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, committing $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovate diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks.  More broadly, U.S. business recognizes the potential of AI to address economic, societal, and environmental inequalities. AI and other virtual/augmented reality technologies will continue to evolve and develop in ways that will facilitate mitigation of future crises.

Policy Recommendation – Business believes that existing regulations are sufficient for many AI applications and that any new requirements should be carefully considered in consultation with stakeholders to ensure they are narrowly tailored to address specific concerns as they arise. It is essential that all stakeholders work together to shape the development of AI to foster trust and broaden deployment so we are poised to use it effectively in addressing future crises.

ILO Reaches Ratification on Worst Forms of Child Labor

USCIB applauds the recent universal ratification by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. All 187 Member States of the ILO supported ratification. The Convention forms the basis for international action to eliminate child labor; its application assists governments globally in developing and adopting effective national laws and policies to eliminate child labor practices. The ILO works with employers, trade unions and governments globally to develop and adopt these standards as part of its unique tripartite approach to work issues.

Child labor has dropped forty percent between 2000 and 2016, but progress has slowed in recent years, particularly among children aged five to eleven and in some geographic locations. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic presents an additional risk to progress, potentially leading to the first increase in child labor for the first time in twenty years.

The United States, through the strenuous efforts of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), was an early and prolific supporter in the global efforts to eliminate child labor. DOL funding and collaboration has been central to the ILO’s work through the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, which has supported over 100 countries in their efforts to eliminate child labor, especially the worst forms.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder held a virtual ceremony on August 4 to mark the occasion.

Global Business Coalition Launched to Advocate Workforce Use of New COVID-19 Vaccines, Pending Availability

New York, N.Y., July 30, 2020 – 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 multi-sector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Education) 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. The CONVINCE business coalition will leverage USCIB’s extensive global network of leading international business organizations and multinational corporations to help large employers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) worldwide to promote vaccine literacy and uptake, while BPSD will help to create public-private partnerships to extend the reach of the Coalition, especially in the developing world. Research has shown that employers are among the most trusted sources of information about pandemic response and recovery.

The global CONVINCE effort was developed initially by Wilton Park, a global forum for strategic discussion affiliated with the UK government, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and the Vaccine Confidence Project™ of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Earlier this year, Wilton Park hosted a series of international dialogues to address the urgent need for collective action to ensure widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccine(s) when available and boost trust in vaccination in general. Participants in these discussions, which included USCIB, agreed to form the CONVINCE initiative as a mechanism to complement and potentially help integrate existing worldwide efforts to build acceptance and uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson stated, “We were pleased to contribute extensively to the Wilton Park dialogues and to highlight the potential role for employers as ‘Trusted Influencers’ as part of the CONVINCE initiative. As the United States affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD – three of the world’s largest and most representative business organizations – we expect to engage an extensive network to help corporate employers, SMEs and governments meet the intense global and local challenge of health and vaccine promotion. Together, we can mount an unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Prof. Heidi Larson, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at LSHTM, and author of Stuck (Oxford University Press, 2020), a definitive overview of global vaccine hesitancy, stated: “We need to start now to listen and engage local communities to build resilience against COVID-19 and recover as societies, schools and economies build a new future. We are thrilled to be part of this important initiative to build public confidence through CONVINCE.”

Nancy Lee, Programme Director at Wilton Park, said, “We are very pleased that the private sector has taken part in our multisector dialogues and has now made this important commitment to promote COVID-19 recovery by supporting global business efforts to build vaccine literacy and support for the potentially game-changing impact of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Dr. Scott Ratzan, executive director of BPSD and Distinguished Lecturer at CUNY, said “Many people say the only way we can achieve a ’next normal’ world is with a vaccine, but it will take collective action to make this happen. We are pleased to work across sectors with business leaders, employees and customers on the innovative communication programs that are needed urgently to build the foundation of trust that can lead us towards vaccine-protected communities.”

In collaboration with global leaders in the private and public sector, Business Partners to CONVINCE will be a resource to generate evidence rapidly of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and to develop, test and widely disseminate responsible communication programs in line with the goals of the United Nations and respected science and evidence-driven organizations worldwide.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC), and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment.

More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact: Mike Michener, Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation

Email: mmichener@uscib.org

 

About The USCIB Foundation, Inc.: Since 1980, The USCIB Foundation has been dedicated to a single mission: advancing the benefits of a free market economy and promoting the essential role of the private sector in stimulating economic growth and progress in social development. Today, the Foundation pursues that mission through a portfolio of initiatives that strives to inform future choices made by stakeholders and policy makers that benefit people around the world.

Contact: Abby Shapiro, Secretary and Director

Email: ashapiro@uscib.org

 

About BPSD:  BPSD was launched in 2019 as a Center to create new international public-private partnerships in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BPSD provides a framework for governments, business and civil society to share information, resources, activities and capabilities, and works in collaboration to achieve objectives together that the sectors cannot achieve independently.

Contact:

Dr. Scott Ratzan, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Email: sratzan@businesspartners4sdgs.org

Jumpstart American Jobs Series: Robinson Shares Views on Trade, Supply Chains, Inclusive Multilateralism

President & CEO of GBA Nancy McLernon interviews Peter Robinson, President of RILA Brian Dodge and President & CEO of FMI Leslie Sarasin

Just as American companies and employers led the way in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, they are now prepared to help drive America’s economic recovery. In a series of virtual interviews, the Global Business Alliance (GBA) has provided a forum for leading executives to share perspectives with top policymakers on what it will take to jumpstart American job growth. In the most recent installment, “Sold. Separately”, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin and Retail Industry Leaders Association President Brian Dodge to share views from members and to emphasize the importance of open trade, diversified supply chains and inclusive multilateralism. President and CEO of GBA Nancy McLernon led the discussion.

Robinson kicked off the discussion with highlights of what some USCIB members, such as Target, Amazon, Hanesbrands, Nike and Mastercard, have been doing to address the pandemic.

“One distinctive attribute of USCIB members is their global perspective and action as partners in multilateral institutions to advance response and recovery,” said Robinson. “And they are very concerned about the health of the constituent components of their global supply chains overseas, as well as at home.” He noted that USCIB supports initiatives by ICC, IOE and BIAC calling for governmental support of SMEs to ensure business continuity.

Throughout the discussion, Robinson underscored the imperative of free and fair trade and competition, particularly in light of COVID-related disruptions in supply chains which have given air cover to embracing of protectionist measures by governments.

“We are still in the middle of the pandemic,” noted Robinson. “The only way to ensure that economies grow again is to ensure open trade and investment environments. Increased digitization is going to be a big part of that. The business community, including USCIB, has been vocally opposed to resorting to protectionist policies. It is our view that a reversal of many of these policies in place is necessary to ensure a sustainable, post-pandemic economy.”

Robinson also highlighted the depth of global interdependence and the need to join hands across borders to work on an inclusive pandemic recovery: “COVID-19 knows no borders: it’s a one-world enemy and we need a one-world response”. According to Robinson, “We are entering a ‘new reality’ for business and society—and a new imperative to enhance and strengthen employment, societal resilience, and sustainable development. Multilateral institutions are the vehicles to ensure we have an all-out collective and coordinated effort to ‘Build Back Better’—and all institutions across humanitarian, health, economic, trade, and environmental roles need to work closely with representative private sector organizations.”

USCIB Submits Comments to USTR on Proposed Digital Services Taxes

USCIB provided comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the proposed Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) of several countries, including Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

USCIB’s submission focused on whether these countries violated Section 301 while encouraging the U.S. to seek a multilateral solution.

“The DSTs under investigation are a poor choice to address the tax issues arising from digitalization of the economy and will work against the economic recovery they are intended to help fund,” said USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Rather, the U.S. should work cooperatively to find an appropriate multilateral solution to taxing the digitalizing economy that does not unduly burden U.S. interests and fosters certainty for business.”

USCIB Advocates Multilateralism, Partnerships, Vaccine Acceptance During HLPF

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) was drastically different, necessitating a virtual platform as hundreds of governments, NGOs, and civil society tuned in remotely to side-events rather than congregating at the UN headquarters in New York. Despite the challenges of a remote HLPF, USCIB retained its active leadership role, co-organizing side-events on inclusive multilateralism, the private sector’s role in educating the public about vaccines, and partnerships to fight COVID-19 and to advance the UN 2030 Development Agenda.

Inclusive Multilateralism

USCIB kicked off the week with a side-event on “Inclusive Multilateralism in Action: Working Together to Build Stronger, Resilient and Sustainable Economies” on July 7. USCIB, which serves as co-chair of the UN’s Business and Industry Major Group, partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the UN Global Compact, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the American Chemistry Council on the event. Dialogue among experts during the panels highlighted synergies at the national and global levels of COVID-19 response and recovery with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and made the case of mainstreaming private sector partnership and expertise into the UN Decade of Action and Delivery.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) Initiative Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan spoke on one of the panels alongside, First Vice Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Maria Fernanda Garza, Secretary General, International Organization of Employers (IOE) Roberto Suarez Santos and UN Global Compact Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo. USCIB Vice President for International Strategic Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy moderated a panel which explored best practices from business in developing partnerships to address food security, health and waste management challenges, all of which have become more difficult for the global community to tackle in light of COVID-19.

“The presentations highlighted the role of business as ‘first responders’ in several key areas of the pandemic response,” said Kennedy. In concluding the panel, Kennedy summed up what is needed as businesses merge their SDG plans with crisis response and recovery: “Inclusive multilateralism involving and mainstreaming private sector dialogue and implementation is not a nice-to-have; it is a must-have for a successful UN Decade of Delivery, Action and Recovery.”

Partnerships

BPSD was also featured at a July 7 side-event organized by the UN 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator. Titled “Partnerships against COVID-19 – building back better together to advance the 2030 Agenda,” the event explored how partnerships can assist developing countries in addressing challenges of the coronavirus and its aftermath while promoting synergies between key sectors, such as the scientific and technological community and the private sector. Ratzan, representing BPSD, joined a select group of experts including Sustainable Development Officer, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN DESA Ola Goransson, Resident Coordinator, Mauritius and Seychelles Christine N. Umutoni and Professor and Department Chair of Development Sociology, Cornell University, member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.

Scientific Advances and Vaccination Acceptance

BPSD Executive Director Scott Ratzan

BPSD, together with the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy organized “COVID-19 vaccines: scientific advances, access models and vaccination acceptance,” on July 10 to explore the status of scientific research advances, implications for policy, and generating public trust in science and building vaccine literacy, and addressing misleading vaccine information.

“Despite the major technological advances that have enlisted industry to fast track a COVID-19 vaccine, all these efforts will be for nought if not enough people accept a vaccine to reach the necessary community protection, also termed herd immunity,” warned Ratzan. “Vaccine hesitancy threatens uptake for a COVID-19 vaccine before it has even been developed. Anti-vaccination advocates are spreading disinformation and inciting fears including vaccine side effects, safety and/or efficacy. Compounding these ongoing issues is a reality in which globally, many do not believe COVID-19 is a real threat. While we are not sure how entrenched these groups are in their disbelief of the risks of coronavirus infection or believe the pandemic is a conspiracy,  there is much work to do to build vaccine literacy and combat a pervasive anti-science, anti-truth rhetoric.”

Ratzan also presented “The CONVINCE Initiative” (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Education), which will bring together key players in a multisectoral collaboration to formulate a whole-of-society approach to create frameworks, best practices and platforms to ensure vaccine uptake.