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.”

Annual Labor Conference Deliberates COVID-19 and Social Protection

As in years past, USCIB participated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) June 3-June 19.  As the U.S. employer representative to the International Employers’ Organization (IOE), USCIB is the only U.S. business organization to participate in the annual conference.

Due to COVID-19, the ILC was cancelled in 2020 for the first time in its 100-year history and is taking place virtually this year.  A second session of the ILC will be taking place from November 25 to December 11 and will cover the critical topics of skills and inequalities.

In addition to standing agenda items, the June session included discussions on the ILO’s response to COVID-19 and Social Protection, as well as General Body elections for the 2021 to 2024 term, to which USCIB Senior Advisor Tom Mackall secured a position as a representative for the Americas. Declarations on the ILO’s Response to COVID-19 and Social Protection were adopted by the Plenary on the Final day of the ILC. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog and Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves participated in the Social Protection negotiations.

Notably USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson delivered remarks on the Director General’s Report, Work in the Time of COVID. After acknowledging and thanking DG Guy Ryder for his years of service, Robinson laid out USCIB priorities for a sustainable and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Highlighting Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) and USCIB’s unique policy expertise and access to multilateral fora, Robinson noted: “USCIB continues to advocate to address decent work deficits through investments in securing rule of law. We remain particularly concerned by the persistent issue of forced labor, which requires international attention. The ILO has a critical role to play and should apply its expertise, leadership and resources to support the elimination of forced labor. “

“We are confident that through increased collaboration and policy coherence, investments in capacity building efforts, and continued social dialogue, with the ILO serving as the custodian of SDG-8, we will emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more resilient and inclusive society,” added Robinson.

USCIB Statement on World Day Against Child Labor

New York N.Y., June 10, 2021 — On the World Day Against Child Labor, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the chorus of global voices calling for elimination of child labor. This issue is one of profound concern for the business community and we applaud the robust efforts of our corporate members to help tackle the scourge of exploitative child labor. As the U.S. business representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), USCIB has consistently advocated for international action to promote decent work and address the enforcement and implementation gaps that exacerbate vulnerabilities.

Ahead of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, the ILO and UNICEF released new global estimates on child labor. USCIB notes with great concern the increase of children in child labor for the first time in twenty-years and we know that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an ongoing risk to millions more children.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 160 million children in child labor, seventy-nine million of which are in hazardous work. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to recommit to and invest in good governance, promulgation of sound national labor laws, and effective enforcement. USCIB stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG-8) to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” with particular attention to Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labor by 2025.

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, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Global Business Welcomes New WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Photo credit: Martial Trezzini/EPA, via Shutterstock

USCIB members had two occasions in early June to hear from the new World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her priorities for global trade and on opportunities for business to engage with her on this agenda in the months ahead.

During the annual International Organization of Employers (IOE) General Council meeting, newly-elected IOE President Michele Parmelee (and USCIB Vice Chair) introduced Okonjo-Iweala, who gave a keynote address and then participated in a panel moderated by Parmelee. The panel, which also featured International Labor Organization (ILO) Director General Guy Ryder and Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzales Laya, discussed the linkages between trade and employment, as well as what is needed to fully unleash the potential of trade in order to rebuild a global economy still reeling from the impact of COVID-19.

“Trade integration, underpinned by the multilateral rules framework, has brought about higher productivity, greater competition, lower prices and improved living standards,” said Okonjo-Iweala. She made the point that “trade is about people,” and asked IOE to help explain to the public that the WTO is not only about rules but about touching the lives of people in the street. She encouraged IOE to engage with WTO in demonstrating the impact of trade on job creation.

Later in the week, in another major exchange with international business through the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Okonjo-Iweala stressed the importance of engaging more with companies to help the WTO better develop policies for moving goods across borders.

“USCIB, the sole U.S. affiliate of the ICC, will continue to engage through ICC in the development of a process for more frequent, smaller group discussions on industry concerns,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade, and China Alice Slayton Clark. “As part of her engagement with industry, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is keen to learn how to better advance micro, small and medium enterprises that struggle to participate in global value chains and are currently handicapped by insufficient trade financing during the pandemic downturn.”

According to Clark, Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged that the WTO is facing a credibility crisis, no longer viewed as an institution “for people.” ​She indicated that to dispel this image, the WTO must return to the goals laid out in its preamble: trade negotiation should increase living standards, create jobs, and support sustainable development, yielding tangible benefits for all.  According to Okonjo-Iweala, this will also help industry overcome the misperception that it neglects civil society concerns.

Finally, Okonjo-Iweala expressed hope that, to reestablish the WTO as a functional body, the twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December 2021 will yield results in four key areas:

  • Conclude twenty-year-old negotiations to curb fishery subsidies, delivering on goals from the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Agree on a Trade and Health Initiative, to enhance international rules on addressing public health emergencies and supply chain resiliency.
  • Agree to strengthen food security, including a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding programs especially in the face of global pandemics.
  • Agree on how to reform the dispute settlement mechanism so the WTO can resume adjudicatory functions.

She also hopes the ministerial will mark significant advancement in the Joint Initiative on E-commerce, the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation, and women empowerment initiatives. ​Further, Okonjo-Iweala looks for nations to relaunch negotiations on an environmental goods agreement and push for measures that enhance sustainability and the circular economy. Okonjo-Iweala would like ​business to ​support and assist ​​in the advancement of these outcomes.

Educate to Vaccinate Event Promotes COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

Anuradha Gupta of Gavi

Update: a recording of the event is now available! (Passcode: %@vyo7?f)

Following the launch of The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative and the initiative’s COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge, the group held its first major event “Educate to Vaccinate: The Role of Employers” on April 29. The event brought together global public health and business experts, small and medium companies from around the globe, international employer organizations, and other stakeholders, to discuss actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption and the vital role employers can play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and motivating – not mandating – the workforce to get vaccinated.

“What better example of the transformative power of science, policy, business and society working together than the response to the pandemic,” said USCIB Executive Vice President Abby Shapiro, who leads BP2C. “Working with three of the world’s largest business networks including the ICC, IOE and Business at OECD to mobilize their business networks, BP2C will reach millions of workers with information and tools to combat misinformation and inspire confidence in vaccination. Keeping employees safe is not only the right thing to do, but also the way forward to a healthy, vaccine-literate workforce.”

Notable speakers at the “Educate to Vaccinate” event included GAVI Deputy Chief Executive Anuradha Gupta, Meredith Flynn-Ripley (Salesforce), Dr. Vicki Weldon (ExxonMobil), Julia Spencer (MSD), as well as public health experts: Larry Gostin (Georgetown University), Heidi Larson (The Vaccine Confidence Project and the CONVINCE initiative), Dr. Scott Ratzan (CUNY School of Public Health and BP2C), and Nancy Lee (Global Health and CONVINCE). Senior international business network representatives included Ali Karami-Ruiz from Business at OECD, Roberto Suárez Santos of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Andrew Wilson from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Participants also heard from companies and organizations across the globe that have already signed up to take the Workplace Challenge including Randstad North America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Staffing Association, and dozens of other companies and organizations around the globe.

“We encourage everyone to take the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to educating their employees,” added Shapiro.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now for The Workplace Challenge!

Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) is the private sector arm of the global, multisector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

USCIB Welcomes President Biden’s Ambitious US Climate Action Pledges

The U.S. business group calls for society-wide dialogue to shape next steps

New York, N.Y., April 22, 2021—Transboundary challenges such as climate change are most effectively solved with the fullest possible international cooperation, so we applaud the Administration’s initiative to convene the Leaders Climate Summit and Major Economies Forum this week in Washington.

USCIB looks forward to working with the Administration to design policy and market approaches that mobilize private sector investment, innovation and implementation to advance climate action. USCIB represents leading U.S. and international businesses that have supported proactive engagement in the UN climate treaty and Paris Agreement since 1993.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement are not simply environmental treaties; they are influential frameworks for economic growth, energy access and security, job creation, food security, and innovation. In that context, we encourage the Administration to actively and substantively engage with the U.S. business community to set priorities and pursue climate policies that advance economic, energy and environmental benefits both at home and abroad.

Clearly, an all of government approach to tackle climate change will be indispensable, and building a trusted and recognized working relationship with business will be key.

We therefore encourage the Administration to undertake a society-wide dialogue with U.S. stakeholders, including the business community as represented by USCIB, which is unique in being based in our nation’s political and financial centers and in serving as the American affiliate of leading global business organizations:  The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Such an inclusive and consultative approach will empower and strengthen the development of the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and will be essential to deliver real progress on climate change and towards a sustainable recovery.

USCIB and its members stand ready to assist the Administration in realizing its ambitious vision for climate action and economic benefit throughout the international community. We will continue to leverage our role as entry-point for American business to global business organizations and networks and to the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) to encourage governments to meet their NDC commitments. We will also continue to advance the alignment of trade, investment and innovation with climate change benefits vis a vis adaptation and mitigation.

USCIB looks forward to partnering with the Administration and the international community to realize our shared vision of inclusive recovery, prosperity and sustainability.

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. USCIB has represented U.S. business at the UNFCCC since 1993. Furthermore, 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.

USCIB Hosts Dialogue on Business Role in Sustainable Recovery and Paris Climate Pledges

Jesse Young (USG) and Norine Kennedy (USCIB)

Ahead of the White House Leaders’ Climate Summit, the Major Economies Forum and the Biden Administration’s unveiling of its Paris Agreement pledge and implementation plan, also known as the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) hosted a virtual Business Dialogue on April 21 on “Synergies with Sustainable Recovery: The Role of Business in Strengthening NDCs,” moderated by USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy.

Opening the meeting was USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who reflected on the crucial nature of inclusive multilateralism and the thought-leadership contributions USCIB has made in international climate change policy over the past two decades.

Peter Robinson makes remarks at BizMEF event

“An inclusive U.S. NDC will also be an ambitious and resilient one,” said Robinson. “During U.S. Climate Week, we can inspire and learn from one another. COP after COP since 1993, USCIB has worked supportively with U.S. administrations to make real progress for private sector innovation, investment and action in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). We’ll also be working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC) to encourage governments around the world to strengthen their NDCs.”

During the meeting, government, and industry speakers from Japan, Denmark, Kenya and India discussed linking recovery and climate action through inclusive, ambitious NDCs, engaging business at national and global levels.

Jesse Young, senior advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, concluded the meeting with what can be expected during the White House Leaders’ Climate Summit; in addition to a new U.S. NDC, the Administration will release the first-ever international climate finance plan which will include a blueprint for how all U.S. government agencies will be enhancing action on climate change, as well as clear targets on climate finance, keeping in mind the role of business. He also commended BizMEF for continuing to advance constructive recommendations on international climate policy, when Major Economies Forum meetings were discontinued.

About: This virtual Business Dialogue built on BizMEF Dialogues at COPs in Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Bonn, Katowice and Madrid in 2019, followed by a first Virtual Business Dialogue in December last year. The Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF) is a partnership of major multi-sectoral business organizations from major economies in developed and developing countries, and includes BusinessEurope, CII, CEOE, Business Unity South Africa, CGEM, MEDEF, BDI, Keidanren, and CNI. Since its launch in 2009,  BizMEF has provided responsible business views and practical input to the international climate change discussions at UNFCCC and OECD. USCIB is a founding partner of BizMEF, and helps support the alliance’s activities.

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.

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.

USCIB Submits Comments on USMCA Labor Chapter to US Trade Representative

Following the entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has requested comments on the procedures for submissions alleging violations under the Labor Chapter. USCIB and its members have been vocal supporters of the inclusion of a Labor Chapter in the USMCA and its Annex which would increase protections for workers abroad, promote business continuity and encourage efficiency.

On August 14, USCIB submitted comments to USTR and  the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (Interagency Labor Committee) with recommendations, such as allowing USCIB to participate and provide information to the Committee as labor unions are invited to do. USCIB is the national employer body recognized by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The comments also called for greater elaboration of specific procedural provisions. “The interests of all stakeholders should be considered when carrying out labor-related mandates and due process needs to be safeguarded,” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility Gabriella Rigg Herzog. “We look forward to lending USCIB’s unique expertise in our continued work with USTR