USCIB Joins Congressional Lobby Days to Push for USMCA

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

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

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

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

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

USCIB Partners With Deloitte, IOE to Launch Report on Scaling Investment for Sustainable Development

Patricia Buckley of Deloitte explained the report’s findings.

While global leaders meet in New York this week for the annual United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), USCIB partnered with Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers to launch a new study that shows the critical role the private sector will play in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which calls for promoting “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”  According to some experts, the success of the entire SDG agenda depends to a large extent on achieving SDG 8.

The event was attended by corporate leaders from Fortune 500 companies, small business company executives, top UN officials, the heads of USCIB and IOE to map out the path to increase private sector investment in SDG 8 targets.The report Reaching SDG8: Challenges, Opportunities and Risks provides detailed data analysis on current progress towards meeting the targets of this goal.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson launched the discussions. “There is an urgent need to develop new and inclusive partnership models that engage business and other non-state actors as equal partners with government,” said Robinson. “This model will embrace innovation, mobilize resources and expertise, and create shared accountability and value.”

According to the report, “the findings are discouraging, as the rate of global progress has, so far, not kept pace with the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. Very little success has been achieved on […] increasing employment opportunities, especially for the young workforce; reducing informal employment, labor market inequality, and gender discrimination; improving resource efficiency in consumption; promoting safe and secure working environments; and improving access to financial services.”

IOE President Erol Kiresepi, who attended the launch event, also provided his insight in a recent blog post, in which he warns that the global community has just over a decade to ratchet up action or run the risk of failing to achieve this ambitious development agenda with devastating consequences. “To bridge the gap between the aspirational and actions on the ground, employer and business member organisations can play a pivotal role,” writes Kiresepi. “Employer organizations worldwide have long and deep experience in translating development agendas into corporate strategies and frameworks.”

In discussing the results of the report, Patricia Buckley, managing director for economics at Deloitte U.S., highlighted “how little progress has been made on most of SDG 8 targets – targets which called for a variety of improvement ranging from increasing skills and reducing informal employment to improving resource efficiency and expanding access to financial services for all.”

USCIB Helps Celebrate ILO Centennial, Business Role in Sustainable Development

Ringing the closing bell at Nasdaq. L-R: Mamadou Diallo, deputy secretary general, International Trade Union Confederation; Moussa Oumarou, deputy director general, ILO; USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, IOE VP for North America. USCIB Vice President Gabriella Herzog is immediately to the right of Robinson.

As leaders assembled in New York for the United Nations’ annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, USCIB and its global network were on the scene, making the case for inclusive multilateralism and celebrating the hundredth anniversary of a key pillar of global cooperation, the International Labor Organization.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson helped ILO ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange on July 11, joined by officials from the ILO, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

“It was an honor to help celebrate the ILO’s centennial in such auspicious surroundings, and in a tripartite way,” said Robinson, who serves as the IOE’s regional vice president for North America. “Here’s to another hundred years of growth, opportunity and success for workers, employers and the societies they continue to help build.”

USCIB’s Peter Robinson speaks at the UN High-Level Political Forum.

Robinson also took part in the first week of UN meetings around the HLPF, with many more planned for this week as well. He appeared alongside IOE Deputy Secretary General Matthias Thorns at a panel discussion on “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.”

Robinson focused his remarks at the UN to emphasize three key elements that will provide an enabling environment allowing business to contribute the most:

  1. Improved governance and rule of law:“Some of the areas of the world in most need of business infusion are ones with big enough governance gaps that business has little incentive to invest; and trying to get business to shoulder the responsibilities that are primarily governmental in nature will be a further disincentive.”
  2. “Inclusive Multilateralism”:“Intergovernmental organizations must ensure that all voices are heard, and in particular must ensure that all business sectors have a seat at the table and prevent the arbitrary exclusion of interests—everyone has a role to play in solving societal challenges, and some of those sectors that many of you in the room might be most critical of, are in fact developing new and innovative approaches to furthering SDGs such as those related to health and climate”
  3. Governments need to facilitate public/private partnerships:“Since many institutions are not yet adequately structured or resourced to support the needed scale of working toward the SDGs, there is an urgent need to develop new and inclusive partnership models that engage business and other non-state actors as equal partners with government. This model will embrace innovation, mobilize resources and expertise, and create shared accountability and value.”

 

Robinson Speaks at ILO Conference, ICC-UK

USCIB’s Peter Robinson (far left) speaks at the annual meeting of ICC United Kingdom, chaired by ICC-UK Chairman Sir Michael Rake (center).

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took part in high-level panel discussions at the recent International Labor Conference, the ILO’s annual high-level gathering, as well as the annual general meeting of ICC-UK, the International Chamber of Commerce‘s chapter in the United Kingdom. At both events, he discussed new challenges of multilateralism in an era when some observers have called the multilateral model’s viability into question.

At the ILO, Robinson took part in a discussion of multilateral institutions and the future of work, alongside ILO Director General Guy Ryder, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos and Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, among others. He said that, from the perspective of employers, it is clear that businesses do well in stable and prosperous societies where inequality is not as rampant.

“The real question is whether governments, who are the ones to tackle inequality, are able to create the right kind of legal and regulatory frameworks to do so,” Robinson observed. “Global institutions need to continue to help governments by providing appropriate research and statistics and policy prescriptions – the OECD and ILO play important roles in those areas.”

The USCIB president called for an “inclusive multilateralism,” where all stakeholders are present and a climate of trust prevails. “Business wants to be part of the solution,” he said. “But we need to feel like we are listened to, and that we have a seat at the table. Just as we need more inclusive forms of economic growth, so we also need a more inclusive model of multilateralism, one that draws on the best ideas from broadly representative groups in civil society, including business and employers’ organizations.”

At the ICC-UK meeting, Robinson joined a panel on the future of the WTO and the multilateral trading system. He recalled recent USCIB papers on WTO modernization as well as the ongoing e-commerce negotiationsUSCIB’s vision for the WTO, he said, “focuses not only on strengthening existing agreements, but also on addressing subsidies and other market-distorting support provided to state-owned enterprises, the establishment of new rules for current issues such as digital trade and customs processes on electronic transmissions, and ensuring a properly functioning appellate body, among other issues. The U.S. has been a major beneficiary of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, bringing and winning more cases than any other WTO member.”

Robinson was also a guest at ICC-UK’s board meeting (as was Crispin Conroy, ICC’s new Geneva representative), where he provided an overview of USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.

USCIB Welcomes ILO Framework to Abolish Violence, Harassment in World of Work

USCIB VP for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog at the ILC

In addition to marking the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Centenary Anniversary, this year’s International Labor Conference (ILC) focused on the adoption of a new ILO Centenary Declaration and a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on Violence & Harassment in the World of Work. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog was on the ground leading USCIB’s U.S. Employer delegation, which represented USCIB member companies for the entire duration of the two-week ILC, taking place June 10-21 in Geneva, Switzerland. Herzog was joined by more than 5,700 delegates at the ILC, who were representing members of the respective groups that comprise the tripartite structure of the ILO – workers, governments and business.

USCIB engaged actively in both the Centenary Declaration and Violence & Harassment discussions, and was particularly pleased to be part of the successful adoption of the new Convention on Violence and Harassment. “Both violence and harassment are unacceptable behaviors that have no place in our societies – and especially not in our workplaces,” said Herzog in her remarks at the concluding ceremony of the ILC. “The Convention document is aspirational in its vision, as it should be for such an important and universal concern. The Convention also clarifies that for public and private employers to effectively work to eradicate these negative practices, such efforts must be commensurate with their degree of control.” 

Herzog also noted disappointment that ILC participants did not join the Employers group in sufficient numbers to ensure that LGBTI would be explicitly cited in the new ILO instruments for protection. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and protection from violence and harassment applies to all people, without exception,” stressed Herzog. “As we enter the second century of the ILO’s history, we call upon the Secretary-General Guterres of the United Nations and Director General Ryder of the ILO to be unwavering in their work to bring added and necessary clarity to international instruments to ensure that they are truly inclusive so that ALL PEOPLE may be protected from violence, harassment and discrimination EVERYWHERE,” Herzog contended.

According to Herzog, adoption of an ILO Convention by the ILC is a clearly a great accomplishment, especially on such an important topic as violence & harassment. Even more important, however, will be for governments to take the next step to actually ratify the convention because that would trigger a responsibility for governments to modify their domestic laws to give effect to the provisions within any new ILO convention. This will be a critical next step if we want to see the needed changes to eliminate violence and harassment in countries and workplaces around the world.  

Still, the passage of the Convention and Recommendation, together with the Centenary Declaration, constitute important steps in tackling issues that have, are, and will affect governments, employers and workers.  Looking to the ILO’s coming 100 years, Herzog stated at the ILC, “We must all continue to respect the value and context of social dialogue and other labor relations systems in helping to navigate change.  As the ILO’s founders wisely understood 100 years ago, open and honest tripartite dialogue, based on trust and political will, can be an important tool for finding shared solutions and facilitating the implementation of reforms geared towards the future.”

 

Business for 2030 Platform Honored by International Chamber of Commerce

The Business for 2030 initiative, launched by USCIB in 2015 as a platform to showcase private-sector efforts aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, was honored by our partners at the International Chamber of Commerce in May.

At a meeting of ICC National Committees in Paris, Business for 2030 took third place in the Americas region in the “NC Initiative of the Year” competition for 2018-2019. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson accepted on behalf of USCIB and its Business for 2030 team.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and of the many, many companies and organizations that have contributed to this essential platform over the past four years,” Robinson said.

Business for 2030 showcases past and ongoing contributions by companies and business organizations to sustainable development, through the lens of the SDGs. It currently features projects in over 150 countries, which can be viewed by specific SDGs, by company and by country.

The site aims to stimulate a more productive partnership between the public and private sectors – at the UN and at national levels – and to demonstrate the need for a proportionate role for business in the negotiations, implementation and follow-up mechanisms of the 2030 Development Agenda at both the UN and at national levels.

Rounding out the winners from the Americas region were ICC Brazil, which won 1st place (and the top worldwide prize overall) for its ITTI Cognitive Trade Advisor program, and ICC Guatemala in 2nd place for its GuateIntegra anti-corruption initiative.

In Peru, USCIB’s Goldberg Highlights Gender Inclusion

USCIB’s Ronnie Goldberg (center) at the UN Equal Pay International Coalition meeting in Lima, Peru

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg participated in a meeting of the UN’s Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), May 28-29 in Lima, Peru. Launched by the UN General Assembly in 2017, EPIC aims to help stakeholders realize and achieve SDG Target 8.51: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.”

Specifically, EPIC is an initiative driven by stakeholders committed to reduce the gender pay gap and make equal pay for work of equal value a reality across all countries and sectors. Coordinated by a secretariat encompassing the ILO, UN Women and the OECD, the coalition engages governments, employers, workers and their organizations, the private sector, civil society and academia to take concrete steps to accelerate the closing of the gender pay gap and the achievement of pay equity.

At the Peru meeting, which was focused on “south-south” dialogue among developing countries, Goldberg spoke on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), part of USCIB’s global business network. She said that while the rights-based case for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and equal pay is clear, there is also a robust business case for gender equality.

“To speak in the language of business, the economic empowerment of women is a critical enabler of economic development and growth,” Goldberg stated. “Representing at least half of all human talent and potential and an enormous market of consumers, women are a valuable and strategic resource in developed and developing countries alike.”

Moreover, a growing body of evidence shows that companies that commit to and enable gender diversity are realizing clear bottom line benefits, not least through the attraction and retention of talented women, Goldberg said.

Companies can do – and are doing – a lot to foster gender diversity in their workplaces, according to Goldberg. Among the many lessons learned from the private sector’s experience:

  • Buy-in at the top is essential.
  • Pay equity is not a one-time fix. Constant attention is required, including annual benchmarking exercises.
  • Unconscious bias is an important issue. Some companies have instituted training programs designed to uncover and deal with such biases.
  • HR and hiring practices/policies need to be continually monitored.
  • Some companies are opening themselves to rigorous outside audit and certification.
  • Family-friendly and gender-blind policies on flexible work hours, maternity/paternity and sick leave benefit everyone, and extending them to all employees helps to reduce gender gaps.

Goldberg said the experience of employers indicated that gender pay gaps are not going to magically disappear, and eliminating them should not be viewed as a one-time fix. “Rather, they require specific interventions that will differ according to national circumstances, corporate cultures, available resources, and political will,” she said. “The good news is that the issue is now firmly in the public eye and an increasing number of companies are stepping up to meet the challenge.”

USCIB All In Initiative

USCIB All In

About

Faced with the urgent need to make faster and smarter progress towards achieving the ambitions of a range of international agreements including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Framework on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, inclusive multilateralism is essential. In this context, USCIB has developed a 2 year initiative: “Campaign All In.”

All In has launched a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes via the multilateral system. The Campaign brings together policymakers and global businesses in key UN cities to begin a conversation on opportunities for harnessing the power of all industry sectors to achieve the SDG goals and other sustainability initiatives.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Campaign All In was launched during a roundtable event on May 8, 2019 in which USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first All In Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok on June 11 and in New York in July. Together, the three roundtables will address six key themes:

  1. Enabling Public-Private Partnerships with the UN for the SDGs (Geneva)
  2. More than the sum of the parts: Leveraging public private cooperation in science and technology for the SDGs (Geneva)
  3. Using Value Chains to mobilize multi-sector engagement and synergy for the SDGs (Bangkok)
  4. Economic Empowerment and inclusion to catalyze SDG impact (Bangkok)
  5. Investing in Infrastructure in all its forms for the SDGs (NYC)
  6. Measuring and Mainstreaming Impact of Private Sector Engagement on SDGs (NYC)

Utilizing the outcomes from the 2019 discussions, All In will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

Events

Geneva Week roundtable

Upcoming:

  • New York UN General Assembly Conference
    • When: September 11, 2019
    • Where: Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza
    • Agenda: Available here
    • Registration: Available here

Past:

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

Geneva Week roundtable

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

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

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

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

Public Private Partnerships with the UN – Designing for SDG impact

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

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

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

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

UN Partnership Forum Underscores Improving Relationship with Business

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

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

Three main sessions considered:

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

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

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

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