Climate Workshop Emphasizes Business Engagement

The workshop presented a draft USCIB report on Business Engagement in Implementation of National Pledges under the Paris Agreement.
Participants discussed what will be necessary to mobilize business action, investment and innovation to advance national and global actions toward the Paris Agreement.

The Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), of which USCIB is a leading member, joined forces with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (Business at OECD) to convene a day long workshop at the OECD Conference Center on October 10 in Paris. The objective of the meeting was to present a draft USCIB report on Business Engagement in Implementation of National Pledges under the Paris Agreement, and to discuss what will be necessary to mobilize business action, investment and innovation to advance national and global actions toward the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement.

This event was organized on the margins of the OECD Climate Change Experts Group meetings on October 8-9 and included key players from the OECD and the UN Climate Change Negotiations:

  • Director of the OECD Environment Directorate Rodolfo Lacy
  • OECD Climate Change Experts Group Chair Helen Plume (New Zealand)
  • Fiji Ambassador Deo Saran
  • Chair of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Science and Technology Advice, Paul Watkinson (France)

Opening the meeting, Secretary General of Business at OECD Russel Mills stated that as key implementation details of the Paris Agreement are completed, business is looking for “smart rules that would animate business expertise and enthusiasm.”  Business representatives from Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, France, the UK, Sweden, and others provided examples of public-private partnerships to advance, assess and improve national pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Professor Henry D. Jacoby, of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Sloan School of Management, reflected on the unique ability of business to connect near-term pragmatic action to long term objectives and planning inherent in the multi-decadal efforts needed to address climate change.  “Doing otherwise,” he said, “risks not only stranded assets, but stranded communities and economies.”

At the end of the session, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy presented a BizMEF proposal for an inclusive and recognized platform for business to be introduced in the UN climate change agreement.  This platform could be similar to the Global Business Platform in the Convention on Biological Diversity, organized on national and regional focal points to involve companies of all sectors, sizes and nationalities, with the mandate to respond to government requests for information or input, and to offer both implementation and policy advice to the UNFCCC process.

“We need an all hands on deck approach to climate policy design, innovation deployment, infrastructure investment and action to deliver current national pledges,” emphasized Kennedy.  “Bringing business to the table in an ongoing and mutually beneficial working relationship, linked between national and global levels, will be indispensable to growing prosperity, energy access and security and resilient solutions to climate change.”

Over 50 participants from governments, academia, the UN and business joined the discussion, which also considered the recently announced IPCC Special Report on 1.5 Degrees C.  This landmark report found that limiting an increase in global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels was possible, but would require unprecedented actions.  Parties to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement have pledged to keep global temperature change to no more than 2 degrees C, yet there is growing political pressure in the UN climate negotiations to agree a more stringent target of 1.5 degrees.

The USCIB Report will be finalized to reflect the October 10 workshop discussions, and presented at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, from December 2 – 14 in Poland.

Business Unites in Opposition to Draft Human Rights Treaty Targeting Companies

Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB)
Proposed treaty would fundamentally shift the burden of policing and enforcing global human rights from governments onto multinational companies.
Treaty is championed by Ecuador and several other governments, alongside a number of activist groups.

 

This week in Geneva, at the fourth session of a UN working group charged with reviewing standards for companies with respect to human rights, the global business community has united in opposition to a proposed “zero draft” of a treaty on business and human rights.

The proposed treaty, championed by Ecuador and several other governments, alongside a number of activist groups, would fundamentally shift the burden of policing and enforcing global human rights from governments onto multinational companies, according to Gabriella Rigg Herzog, USCIB’s vice president for corporate responsibility and labor affairs, who is attending the Geneva meeting.

“Some in the room have referred to the zero draft as a ‘last line of defense’ approach,” Herzog told delegates in a statement on behalf of USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). “But we believe the true first line of defense is strong domestic rule of law, good governance, and the state duty to protect human rights. This is where our collective efforts should focus and is the global approach we all are working to achieve under the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

A joint statement by the IOE, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD and Business Europe conveys the groups’ strong concerns on the proposed treaty. These include:

  • The zero draft includes requirements that are unclear and not aligned with recognized “soft-law” instruments such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • It establishes a different set of requirements for transnational business activities versus other enterprises and organizations.
  • And the draft would open the door to civil and criminal suits in a wide range of jurisdictions, which could lead to “forum shopping.”

“We do not believe that these texts make a helpful contribution to the field of business and human rights and we believe that they risk undermining important progress made in this sphere under the UN Guiding Principles,” stated Viviane Schiave, senior policy executive with ICC. “Furthermore, the process followed by the [UN working group] to date does not give business confidence that this initiative will provide credible and workable solution to such complex human rights issues.”

USCIB Hosts U.S. Chargé to OECD Andrew Havilland

Acting Head (“Chargé d’Affaires”) of the U.S. Mission to the OECD Andrew Havilland speaks with USCIB members
Havilland reviewed OECD activities and upcoming challenges, cooperation of both the U.S. Mission and the sprawling OECD structures with Business at OECD and ways to strengthen those government/business links.
USCIB will be organizing a parallel session for Nan Fife and her “OECD desk” team from state to meet with member companies.

Two dozen USCIB member companies met with Andrew Havilland, acting head (“chargé d’affaires”) of the U.S. Mission to the OECD on October 11 at USCIB’s Washington office. In a wide-ranging hour-long give and take, Havilland reviewed OECD activities and upcoming challenges, cooperation of both the U.S. Mission and the sprawling OECD structures with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (Business at OECD) group and ways to strengthen those government/business links.

Access for Business at OECD members to some important OECD committees was highlighted as an important ongoing problem.  Digital trade, tax, health, and competition policy remain important priority areas for USCIB member companies.  OECD work on “Illicit trade” is also an area of growing interest for member companies.  And accession of new member countries to the OECD, both the process and potential individual candidate countries remain very important issues for many member companies.  Member companies were appreciative of the support they are getting from Havilland’s U.S. Mission team in Paris.

Nan Fife, the newly-arrived office director of the Economic Policy and Public Diplomacy (EPPD) Office in the State Department’s Economic and Business Bureau (EB), the “desk” coordinating U.S. Government policy toward the OECD, accompanied Havilland to the session and chimed in, encouraging USCIB and member companies with interests or concerns on OECD issues to work with her and her team as well as relevant Washington agencies.  USCIB will be organizing another parallel session for Fife and her “OECD desk” team from state to meet with member companies.

USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly, who moderated the session, praised Havilland for making time to meet with business and for his “expertise, candor, and open door for business. “USCIB really appreciates Andrew Havilland and the entire team at the U.S. Mission to the OECD,” said Donnelly. “They have been great partners on a range of important issues around the OECD for USCIB and for BIAC.”        

 

Pamela Bates Nominated as US Ambassador to OECD

Pamela Bates
Photo source: Securitas Global Risk Solutions

On September 24, President Donald Trump officially nominated Pamela Bates to be next U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Bates would replace Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, who departed the post in January 2017.  In the interim the U.S. Mission to the OECD had been capably led, first, by Peter Haas, and currently by Andrew Havilland as Chargé d’Affaires.

Bates is awaiting a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Bates has considerable experience as a State Department Foreign Service Officer (FSO) specializing in economic policy work and including a tour of duty on the staff of the U.S. Mission to the OECD which she is now being nominated to head.  USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson welcomed her nomination.  “We at USCIB are delighted to see the nomination of an experienced economic policy maker to be the next U.S. Ambassador at the OECD,” said Robinson. “USCIB works closely with the OECD as the sole U.S. business affiliate of the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Committee (Business at OECD).  We and our member companies have worked closely with previous U.S. ambassadors and their staffs and look forward to continuing that close cooperation with Pamela Bates once she is confirmed and on the job in Paris.”

USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly, himself a retired State Department economic officer and former Ambassador, added, “I’ve known Pam Bates from our time together at the State Department and am confident she’ll do an excellent job representing our Government at the OECD and leading the U.S. Mission.  She comes to this important post well prepared.”

Bates served for 24 years as a career member of the United States Foreign Service before assuming her current role as a partner at Securitas Global Risk Solutions in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 2017.  While with the State Department, Bates’ assignments included service as deputy director of the Economic and Commercial Studies Division for the National Foreign Affairs Training Institute in Arlington, Virginia, and as the senior energy advisor at the United States Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France.  She also served in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.  Ms. Bates earned her AB degree from Bowdoin College, her MA from John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and her MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  She speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German.

USCIB Raises Awareness for SDG Platform at Global Business Forum

Business representatives from numerous countries were on hand to prepare views and share good practices relating to employers and job creation in connection with the SDGs.
“Businessfor2030 is really the perfect way to showcase what the business community is doing for the SDGs,” said Matthias Thorns of IOE.

 

The Global Business Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) met in Madrid, Spain from October 1-2.  Business representatives from numerous countries were on hand to prepare views and share good practices relating to employers and job creation in connection with the SDGs. USCIB Policy and Program Assistant Mia Lauter represented U.S. employers and USCIB at the session.

The Forum, organized by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and hosted by Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales (CEOE) with the support of the European Union, aimed to raise awareness of the SDGs and the contributions that businesses can make to their achievement and exchange experiences about the involvement of Employers’ Organizations (EOs) and discuss the role they can play. The Forum also sought to better understand the needs and expectations of companies – MNEs and SMEs alike – with regard to support from EOs, as well as learn about the challenges and opportunities arising from SDG reporting, see the SDGs in the larger context of UN reform. Finally the Forum aimed to define the key messages of business for the high-level review of SDG 8 in 2019; and identify key follow-up actions for the IOE and invited delegates.

Lauter discussed the role of employers’ organizations in achieving the SDGs with particular focus on USCIB’s web platform Businessfor2030.org, outlining three main purposes of the site:

  1. Understand: Businessfor2030 cuts through the UN complexities and jargon, and helps companies understand the expectations and opportunities for the private sector, connecting the SDGs to business value propositions
  2. Be Inspired: Businessfor2030 aggregates companies’ sustainability initiatives and re-broadcasts them in alignment with the SDGs, then directly targets them at the audience that cares – the UN. Explore case studies of private sector contributions to sustainable development and the SDGs.
  3. Get Involved: Businessfor2030 provides resources to connect companies, UN agencies and governments for public-private partnerships for the SDGs. It also offers opportunities for companies to add their own examples of case studies or contribute stories and policy views through the Bizfor2030 blog.

Lauter emphasized that achieving the SDGs calls for an all-of-society approach, and that Employers’ Organizations have the unique ability to connect the many stakeholders involved in social and economic aspects of sustainability.

Director of Stakeholder Engagement at IOE Matthias Thorns agreed. “Businessfor2030 is really the perfect way to showcase what the business community is doing for the SDGs,” said Thorns.

The Forum, which offered a global exchange among employers’ organizations on sustainable development, helped participants foster a better common understanding; learn from national experiences; identify areas of common concern; and agree on follow-up action, as well as facilitate public-private dialogue on the issue of business engagement on the SDGs.

USCIB Members Highlight Business Role in SDGs During UN General Assembly

L-R: Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB), Daniel Schwartz (Mastercard), Chris Gray (Pfizer), Shaun Mickus (J&J), Louise Kantrow (former Permanent Representative of the ICC to the UN)
USCIB convened a side event, “Making, valuing and communicating SDG Impact: U.S. Business Signposts for the Next 5 Years.”
In 2019, the UN will consider the first three years of implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and consider possible changes.

 

As governments gathered in New York for the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) from September 24 – 28, convened under the Presidency of Ambassador María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), USCIB members highlighted the contribution and practical experience of the American private sector in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

USCIB convened a side event, “Making, valuing and communicating SDG Impact: U.S. Business Signposts for the Next 5 Years.” The event was hosted by Deloitte on September 27th and gathered representatives from business, government and the UN system to share information and experiences in three areas critical to successful SDG action by businesses:

  1. Embedding sustainability into the core of company’s business models
  2. Measuring the impact of sustainability programs and initiatives
  3. Communicating impact to target audiences and key stakeholders

In 2019, the UN will consider the first three years of experience and implementation with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and consider possible changes.  USICB’s event made clear that, three years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, substantial progress has been made thanks to the commitment and action of U.S. business, but also flagged areas where stronger links with business would enhance progress towards the SDGs.

Director of the Office of Global Change at the U.S. Department of State Thomas DeBass acknowledged that business will deliver most of the funding for the SDGs, so it follows that governments and the UN must do a better job communicating to business. “Only 10 percent of the financing to achieve the SDGs will come through official development aid and related government sources,” said DeBass. “The other 90 percent will come about through private-sector investment. But we are still trying to convince the 90 percent using the language of the 10 percent.  We need to reorient our sales pitch to speak the language of business.”

Meanwhile companies recognize the business case for embedding sustainability across their operations. In fact, Novozymes’ Head of Corporate Sustainability and Public Affairs Claus Stig Pedersen noted, “we don’t have a sustainability policy, we have a business system that adjusts to sustainable development.”

Chief Strategy Officer for International Development at Deloitte Wade Warren pointed out that, “achieving the SDGs could unlock an additional $12 trillion in business opportunities.”  Yet, while business enthusiasm for the SDGs and the business opportunities that the SDGs create, is growing, the full potential of collaboration between the private sector, governments and the UN system has not been unlocked.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB vice president for environment, energy and strategic international engagement, called for a practical approach to “inclusive multilateralism” that will animate business to further develop and deploy technologies, know-how and investment to advance the Global Goals.

On September 27, the UN also held the third high-level meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), which was attended by USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener. The two previous high-level sessions on NCDs took place in 2011 and 2014. The meeting on September 27th served as a comprehensive review of the prevention and control of NCDs and focused on the theme of strengthening health systems and financing for the prevention and control of NCDs, on each country’s path towards achieving universal health care, including through sharing evidence-based best practices, scientific knowledge and lessons learned.” The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) UN Representative in New York Andrew Wilson represented the private sector. The outcome of this meeting was an adopted UN Declaration on NCDs. 

The UN General Assembly is the supreme governing body of the United Nations.  This year’s session that will continue throughout the year into spring 2019 will focuses on the theme, “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibility for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”

USCIB will continue to work with member companies, governments and the UN system, to share expertise and foster partnerships to continue to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through the Businessfor2030 web platform.

International Business Magazine: Fall/Summer 2018

The Summer/Fall 2018 issue of USCIB’s quarterly International Business magazine is available here. The issue features a timely column by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson titled, “The Myth of Private-Sector ‘Conflict of Interest’ at the UN. The issue also features news stories on how tariffs harm companies and consumers, tax reform impacts, and reinforcing US-China tie, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

 

Op-Ed Dispels Myths of Business “Conflict of Interest” at UN

As the annual United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York this week and next, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson contributed a timely op-ed in The Hill, titled “UN’s private-sector phobia prevents if from hitting its lofty goals.”

“It is increasingly evident that the international community is not on track to deliver the expected results under the Paris Agreement (as well as the broader U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) or the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals,” writes Robinson. “So why, at a moment when governments and international organizations should be actively seeking ways to encourage business to step up, is the private sector being accused of having a ‘conflict of interest’ or of actively seeking to upend global consensus?”

Robinson points out that accusations of conflict of interest are rampant across UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and in the context of the UN climate talks. He then outlines six “myths” about business influence in international policy-making and dispels them one by one.

To read the full op-ed, please visit The Hill.

 

USCIB Salutes Retiring US Diplomat Ted Allegra

Ted Allegra
Photo credit: U.S. Mission photo Dominique Nicolas

Last week, senior U.S. diplomat Ted Allegra retired after 27 years in the State Department’s Foreign Service.  USCIB has worked closely with Ted Allegra over the past five years, through his service first as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs at the State Department and since 2015 as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.  As the representative of U.S. business to the broad network of UN agencies and international organizations headquartered in Geneva, USCIB works closely with senior officials at the Department of State and in U.S. Missions to international organizations.

“Allegra has consistently been a tower of strength and a good friend of USCIB and U.S. business,” noted USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly, who is also a former diplomat. In his final 18 months in Geneva, in the absence of a U.S. Ambassador, Allegra, as Chargé d’Affaires (effectively Acting U.S. Ambassador), carried the full responsibility of leading that important Mission, representing the U.S. Government to nearly two dozen Geneva-based international organizations.

Allegra is capping a very distinguished Foreign Service career.  In addition to his final five years focusing on the United Nations and international organization issues, Allegra served with distinction earlier as Deputy Executive Secretary of the State Department, as Deputy Chief of Mission (#2 U.S. diplomat) in the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, and as the Department’s  Deputy Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.  Earlier in his career, Allegra served in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in Pakistan, Philippines and Cambodia.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was effusive in his praise of Allegra. “Ted has been a fantastic partner for USCIB and for American business,” said Robinson. “Since Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto’s departure in January 2017, Ted has done a great job leading the U.S. Mission in Geneva.  We’ve worked with him on a range of challenging issues arising in the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and several other UN bodies and agencies.  Ted has always been available to meet with USCIB and our member companies, has listened to and understood our concerns and proposals, and has helped us find solutions.  When we took our first-ever official senior delegation of USCIB member companies to Geneva earlier this  year, Ted was incredibly generous with his time and wise in his advice.  I’ve worked with a lot of very senior U.S. Government diplomats in my career at USCIB and Ted Allegra is one of the very best.  We are sorry to see him leave the U.S. Mission in Geneva and the Foreign Service but we wish him well in future endeavors.  He leaves behind in Geneva both an impressive legacy and some big shoes to fill.”

 

Annual Conference Discusses Human Rights Trends and Developments

Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB) speaks at the 2018 Engaging Business Forum
Theme of 2018 forum: “Collaboration Through Partnerships to Address Business and Human Rights Trends and Developments.”
Forum brought together 200+ representatives from the private sector, U.S. government, civil society, academia, and international organizations to discuss the importance of partnerships in achieving business and human rights goals.

Since 2007, USCIB, The Coca-Cola Company, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) have organized an annual forum on business and human rights to foster candid discussions and peer learning opportunities. The 10th Engaging Business Forum took place on September 13-14 at The Coca-Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta under the theme of “Collaboration Through Partnerships to Address Business and Human Rights Trends and Developments.”

The two-day forum has become the leading annual business and human rights convening in the United States, and this year brought together over 200 representatives from the private sector, U.S. government, civil society, academia, and international organizations to discuss the importance of partnerships in achieving business and human rights goals. Participants discussed leading business and human rights issues of the moment, including:

  • What does and doesn’t work in partnerships?
  • How business can work and interact with human rights defenders?
  • Best practices and challenges for business in providing access to remedy?
  • How to address the issue of wages in the supply chain?
  • Understanding diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

The keynote speaker at the event was Director-General of the International Labor Organization Guy Ryder. Other speakers included USCIB Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog, Director of Global Workplace Rights at The Coca-Cola Company Brent Wilton, Director of Stakeholder Engagement at IOE Matthias Thorns, and Michael Congiu of Littler Mendelson as the representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. USCIB member company speakers included The Walt Disney Company, Walmart, H&M, and Rio Tinto.

“Our role at USCIB is to support U.S. business in creating and supporting a more prosperous society, including through demonstrating respect for human rights in their activities,” said Herzog. “We’re proud to be a co-sponsor of this prestigious annual human rights event which provides sharing and learning opportunities about the important roles that governments, business and civil society representatives are playing to advance human rights around the world,” Herzog added.

The event’s agenda is available here.