Vinblad Speaks on Panel Co-Organized by ILO, UNEP and UNICEF at UN Stockholm+50

Center: USCIB’s Agnes Vinblad

USCIB participated in the high-level international meeting, UN Stockholm+50 from June 2-3 in Stockholm, Sweden, joining over 4,000 other participants. The meeting was planned as a key milestone en route to the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt later this year. Furthermore, Stockholm+50 served as a means to reinvigorate and renew international environmental multilateralism after the worst impacts of the pandemic. The meeting commemorated the first UN Conference on the Human Environment held fifty years ago, also in Stockholm, in 1972. Topics such as the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution took center stage with plenty of references to the UNEA 5.2 resolution on plastics pollution, and, to principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration – the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

Representing USCIB, and as one of the few U.S. business representatives on hand, was Policy Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad. Vinblad was joined by Co-Chair of the USCIB Environment Committee Justin Perrettson (Novozymes), as well as Melissa Kopolow and Melissa Estok – USCIB members from Albright Stonebridge Group.  

The U.S. Government delegation was led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Monica Medina. USCIB was in regular contact with the U.S. Delegation in the lead-up to Stockholm+50 and Vinblad met with members of the delegation during the conference emphasizing the need to consider U.S. business views in these critical conversations.   

Nominated by IOE, Vinblad joined a panel co-organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and UNICEF on the role of private sector engagement in green jobs creation for youth. This panel was part of an official side event at Stockholm+50 titled Green Jobs for Youth and some of the key messages emphasized during the panel included: 

  • the green and circular economy may create 100 million jobs by 2030 – the private sector will stand at the core of this transition; 
  • the transition will have to be just to ensure that there will be a transition at all; 
  • green jobs in renewables and environmental protection are rapidly growing – a development clearly driven by the private sector.   

Vinblad was joined on the panel by Naoko Ishii, former chief executive of the Global Environment Facility and chairperson of the Global Advisory Board of the University of Tokyo; Vladislav Kaim, Children and Youth constituency to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (YOUNGO) Green Jobs focal point and UN Secretary General Youth Advisor on Climate Change; and Nate Williams, senior director, Economic Graph partnerships, LinkedIn. 

“Overall, Stockholm+50 furthered the trend toward convergence of current legally binding environmental deliberations, for example the development of a new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework via the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the recently adopted UNEA resolution on plastic pollution,” said Vinblad in summarizing the outcomes of the high-level UN meeting. “By allowing space to discuss all these critical topics and agreements in one joint forum, it yet again emphasized the need to act on the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution in a cohesive manner, guided by the true interconnectedness of these issues.” 

To find more details on the outcomes of Stockholm+50 and the ten Key Recommendations presented by the co-chairs Sweden and Kenya, please review this document 

USCIB Represents U.S. Business at United Nations Preparatory Meetings on COP27

The United Nations concluded two weeks of preparatory meetings in advance of the next Climate Summit, known as COP27, which will be held November 8-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.  As the first official negotiations since Glasgow in 2021, this meeting brought all UN member states, UN bodies, business and other groups to discuss urgently accelerating implementation of the Paris Agreement.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, who was on the ground representing U.S. business, the intense session included special presentations of the most recent scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and technical roundtables under the “global stock take,” which will assess the need for and degree of additional greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C. The session also took up further development of “Article 6” measures to allow carbon trading and offsets under the Paris Agreement.

In addition, new attention is now being directed toward the private sector with respect to voluntary pledges and initiatives, such as those announced last year at the Glasgow Summit. The UN Secretary General and the UNFCCC High Level Champions have each recently announced new initiatives to review such voluntary announcements to ensure they are being put into practice.

At a meeting with members of the U.S. Government delegation at Bonn, Co-Chair of the USCIB Environment Committee Justin Perrettson (Novozymes) called out the “importance of private sector innovation to tackle the inter-linked challenges of climate change, food security and energy transitions,” and went on to highlight the need to include business in the implementation phase of the Convention.

The most contentious issues in Bonn concerned mobilizing financial resources for adaptation to impacts of climate change, and the establishment of a fund to provide compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change.

As the host of COP27, Egypt is expected to place particular emphasis on food and water security, just transition, and adaptation for resilience. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), serving as the official focal point for business in the UNFCCC, has already begun dialogue with Egyptian government authorities on key topics relating to carbon markets, the role of SMEs and ways to further increase ambition across private and public sectors.

USCIB Promotes Foreign Direct Investment Qualities Initiative at OECD Ministerial

The OECD Ministerial Conference Meeting (MCM) took place in Paris June 9-10, focused on “The Future We Want: Better Policies for the Next Generation and a Sustainable Transition,” with a ministerial conference statement promoting sustainable economic recovery in the post-pandemic world, transition to sustainable and inclusive development, adoption of resilient health systems, among other important initiatives. Importantly, ministers at MCM adopted roadmaps for accession to the OECD for Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania, opening up a key opportunity for USCIB to work through Business at OECD to advance member priorities in these countries.

At a side event, “Strengthening Sustainable Investment Policies,” Chair of the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee and Chair of Business at OECD Rick Johnston promoted the OECD FDI Qualities Initiative and the newly unveiled FDI Policy Toolkit for supporting sustainability goals. According to Johnston, the FDI Qualities Initiative is not only important to OECD members states but also to the developing markets they serve. “Sustainability indicators must be part of FDI regimes or the host country will not only suffer bad investments but also collateral problems.” He underscored that the private sector takes seriously sustainable FDI and urged countries to work closely in partnership with business in adopting policies that “make sense.”

On 10 June, the OECD Council Recommendation on FDI Qualities for Sustainable Development was adopted by OECD ministers. USCIB through Business at OECD (BIAC) strongly contributed to the FDI Qualities effort. Launched in 2018, the OECD FDI Qualities Initiative aims to better link FDI with sustainable development, focused on four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): productivity and innovation, job quality and skills, gender equality, and decarbonization. The Initiative includes:

  • The FDI Qualities Indicators provides data measuring the impacts of investments on SDGs in host countries; the FDI Qualities Indicators report for 2022, includes new sections on the green economy and resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The FDI Qualities Policy Toolkit is a new product to help governments identify priorities to align investment policy and institutional reforms to sustainable development goals.
  • The FDI Qualities Policy Network is a platform for stakeholder consultation and exchange on sustainable investment policies.

USCIB Joins Pledge to Enhance Cyber Resiliency and Counter Evolving Global Threats

In partnership with the Coalition to Reduce Cyber Risk (CR2), USCIB was among thirty-seven companies and organizations that pledged on June 8 to enhance cyber resiliency and counter evolving cross-border cyber threats, such as the growth of ransomware.

Signers to this groundbreaking pledge from eight countries have promised to encourage the development, evolution and implementation of risk-based approaches that rely on consensus-based standards and risk management best practices, support efforts of vendors and supply chain contributors to adopt risk-based cybersecurity approaches in order to help small businesses flourish while improving the resiliency of the cyber ecosystem, incorporate widely accepted international cybersecurity standards as a foundation of cybersecurity policies and controls wherever applicable and feasible, and periodically reassess cybersecurity policies and controls against revisions to cybersecurity standards and actively participate in industry-driven initiatives to improve those standards.

“CR2 is committed to driving a globally-aligned approach for managing cyber risk. Thirty-Seven organizations from eight countries have signed the Cyber Risk Management Pledge, demonstrating the breadth of usage of international standards such as ISO/IEC 27110 and 27103, as well as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and associated sector profiles.” said
Benjamin Flatgard, President of CR2 and Executive Director of Technology and Cybersecurity Policy and Partnerships at J.P. Morgan Chase.

He added: “Governments should embed widely used international standards at the core of their national cyber policies to facilitate a seamless approach to shared cyber risk.”

For more information on the CR2 and the pledge, or if your company or organization is interested in joining the pledge, please visit https://www.crx2.org/

USCIB Calls on International Community to Fight for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Individuals

June 1, 2022, New York, NY — On occasion of Pride Month this month, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) re-emphasizes its committment to fight for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year. As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” USCIB and its members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out that, “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school and in public accommodations.”

According to the United Nations’ Global Campaign against Homophobia and Transphobia, more than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving, same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal – an unprecedented global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) 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.

USCIB Calls for Elimination of Child Labor, Calls on Governments to Invest in Rule of Law

June 12, 2022, New York, NY  — On this World Day Against Child Labor, the United States 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 child labor.

Many of our affiliates and partnerships work on combating child labor through their work in monitoring and developing best practices. The U.S. Department of State also monitors and reports on child labor in their annual Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report and contributes to the Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Similarly, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains identifies the worst forms of child labor as a serious human rights abuse associated with the extraction, transport or trade of minerals that companies should not tolerate, profit from, contribute to, assist with or facilitate in the course of doing business.

This year the International Labor Organization (ILO) hosted its 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor where delegates agreed that the Durban Call to Action include strong commitments on action against child labor while raising concerns that existing progress has slowed and is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict, as well as food, environmental and humanitarian crises.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 152 million children in child labor, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, a quarter of the victims of modern slavery are children. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to invest in rule of law and stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve SDG Target 8.7 in order 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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) 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.

Focus Turns to Global Food Security as Commodity Supplies Destabilize by War in Ukraine

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Regulation, Innovation and Trade Brian Lowry, the focus in the United States last week shifted from sanctioning Russia toward urgently addressing global food insecurity caused by the war in Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken convened a high-level UN Global Food Security Ministerial Meeting on May 18, bringing together approximately thirty-five countries to discuss ways to stave off global food shortages linked to the conflict in Ukraine, which is potentially impacting forty million people, according to the World Bank. The U.S. issued a fact sheet calling for Days of Action on Global Food Security and Blinken provided a statement outlining objectives for the ministerial meeting. Ministers ultimately produced a Roadmap for Global Food Security-Call to Action, a commitment to act urgently to address global food security and nutritional needs as well as strengthen resilient and “inclusive” food systems in line the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals and the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

That same day, multiple International Financial Institutions (IFI) released the IFI Action Plan to Address Food Insecurity, a program of financing, policy engagement, technical assistance, and know-how developed by the by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group to address food insecurity. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commended the release May 18 as the Action Plan was conceptualized at a meeting she convened with the international financial institutions in April.

The G7 joined the World Bank Group to announce on May 19 the launch of the Global Alliance for Food Security to support work on food security at the UN and other international institutions.  The Alliance will leverage existing institutions and programs to develop a short-term response to shortages in food, fertilizer, and fuel and work together to remove trade barriers and provide the support needed to alleviate the negative impacts of the war.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) of which USCIB is unique affiliate, called on G7 governments on May 19 to spearhead efforts to provide logistical supports – humanitarian sea corridors, rail and road land routes – sanctions carve-outs, and risk guarantees to restore trade in Ukrainian grains and vegetable oils and Russian fertilizers. Ukraine and Russia had been major exporters of wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizers, creating a trade a gap today that cannot be readily filled. This is consistent with recent messaging from UN Secretary General António Guterres to reopen the Black Sea to agricultural shipments from Ukraine.

Similarly, the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governor’s released a communique May 20 expressing support for Ukraine and a commitment to help close short-term financing gaps and ensure its macro-economic stability. They pledged continued coordinated action to isolate Russia and Belarus from the global economy through economic and financial sanctions, to prevent sanctions evasion and backfilling and to support the ongoing work of the Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force.

According to USCIB, there is no doubt that additional sanctions are in the offing, as the G7 Foreign Ministers released a statement May 14 affirming continued coordinated actions against Russia and in support of Ukraine. They pledged to continue working together to pressure Russia with future economic and financial restrictions on sectors that Russia depends on, and by imposing penalties on Russian elites, institutions and military. In fact, the United States has already resumed punitive actions this week.

USCIB Members General Motors and Uber Receive Accolades from the Coalition for Integrity

The Coalition for Integrity (“C4I”), a top Washington-based group promoting integrity and combatting bribery and corruption, handed out its two major awards for 2022 at its annual session late May 19. Both awards went to USCIB members. General Motors won the prestigious Corporate Leadership Award, the eighth time in ten years that a USCIB member company has been selected, according to USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly, a former U.S. Ambassador. GM and its CEO Mary Barra were singled out by C4I for its broad corporate culture of integrity, exemplified by its strong Code of Conduct and a mantra “Winning with Integrity.” GM Assistant General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Michael Ortwein accepted the award on behalf of the company and gave brief remarks, thanking the coalition and reaffirming GM’s commitment to integrity in all aspects of its business and at all levels. GM joins other USCIB members, including Bechtel, Raytheon, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and General Electric in winning the coveted C4I award.

The Coalition’s other major annual award is its Integrity Award to a prominent individual for her/his leadership efforts in combatting corruption and illicit practices. Previous winners have included former President Jimmy Carter, the late Senators John McCain and Richard Lugar, former World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.  For 2022, C4I is honoring, Tony West for his career achievements promoting integrity and combatting corruption.  West is currently Chief Legal Officer for USCIB member Uber. He has previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Associate Attorney General, which is the third highest position in the Department of Justice, and in the private sector as General Counsel at PepsiCo and in his current role at Uber. The Coalition cited West’s “leadership and efforts to promote accountability in the public and private sectors” in selecting him for this year’s Integrity Award. In 2015, when PepsiCo was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award, Tony West accepted the award on behalf of the company at the Coalition’s annual dinner in Washington. He thus becomes the first person to receive both the Coalition for Integrity’s Corporate Leadership Award and the individual Integrity Award.

Donnelly is a longtime member of the Coalition for Integrity’s Policy Advisory Board. Donnelly, who attended the C4I virtual awards ceremony, commended the Coalition for Integrity and the award winners for their leadership in combatting bribery and corruption and in promoting accountability, strong corporate governance and ethical behavior.

“It was great, again this year, to see outstanding USCIB member companies recognized for their leadership in this important area,” said Donnelly. “We as USCIB are proud of the high ethical standards our member companies set, implement and enforce, year in and year out.”

USCIB’s Statement of Priorities for the Proposed Global Digital Compact

On occasion of the United Nations Secretary General’s inclusion of the proposed Global Digital Compact (GDC) as part of Our Common Agenda, USCIB released a statement of priorities, which highlights how digital technologies and the online environment act as drivers that help grow the global economy, bridge inequalities, foster creativity and innovation, build trust, and expand societal engagement and exchange.

USCIB’s statement outlines several specific issues as key to realizing improved digital cooperation, such as infrastruture, connectivity and spectrum; multistakeholder governance approaches; free flow of data; the avoidance of internet fragmentation; the importance of trust; open markets and predictable regulatory environments; protection of freedom of expression online; importance of Artifical Intelligence (AI); and finally accountability criteria for discriminatory and misleading content.

“Key to realizing the developmental benefits of digital transformation are policies that support an enabling environment for technology innovation,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. According to USCIB, such policies may address economic, social/cultural, technical, and governance issues, all of which are interlinked and cross-cutting. This holistic approach best ensures the development of an open, safe, highly secure, stable, interoperable, seamless and sustainable digital ecosystem with the potential to close development gaps and address other inequities.

 

OECD Event Attempts to Help Governments Develop Agile Governance

Rick Johnston at the Agile Governance Symposium

The OECD, Business at OECD (BIAC) and the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center co-hosted an event on April 26 on the need for agile and adaptable regulatory practices. The event, titled “Agile Governance for our Future: Reimagining Regulation to Support Innovation” was held in person in Washington, DC, at the REACH at the Kennedy Center and received programming support from both USCIB and USCIB member Google.

The program included a keynote by Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School, a fireside chat with Google President of Global Affairs Kent Walker as well as remarks by BIAC Chair and USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Chair, Rick Johnston of Citi.

Additional panels featured the perspectives of policymakers, regulators and civil society, including Director General of the Danish Business Authority Katrine Winding, Assistant Secretary, Regulatory Affairs Sector of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Tina Green and Susana Cordeiro Guerra, manager for institutions for development at the Inter-American Development Bank.

According to USCIB Policy Manager for Regulation and Trade Chris Olsen, who attended the Symposium, this event builds on the Fall 2021 release of the OECD’s Agile Governance Recommendation, which aims to help governments develop and implement agile and resilient regulatory approaches, and facilitate institutional co-operation both in response to, and to further stimulate, international innovation. This Recommendation received input and support from the Business at OECD (BIAC) Governance and Regulatory Policy Committee.

A full recording of the symposium will soon be available on both the OECD website and through George Washington University’s program page.