Remembering Kofi Annan, Who Forged Bonds With Business as UN Secretary General

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at USCIB’s 2003 award gala

USCIB members and friends around the world were saddened by the passing of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who died on August 18 at age 80. Annan’s two terms as head of the UN were marked by intense conflict – but also optimism about the world’s ability to overcome divisions and promote shared goals and values.

“Kofi Annan was a consummate diplomat and global statesman,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “We can honor his legacy by continuing to strive toward the goals he championed so passionately: peace, collective security, economic and social development, and a commitment to ensure that all oars are in the water, moving together toward a common future.”

Overlooked in some accounts of Annan’s legacy was recognition for his work in establishing strong bonds with the private sector, in support of the UN as an institution and in driving the world toward ambitious goals for economic and social betterment. He championed the Millennium Development Goals, and he urged the UN – which carried a legacy of sometimes severe criticism of the private sector – to work more closely with business.

Annan put these sentiments on display when he spoke at USCIB’s International Leadership Award Dinner in 2003, which honored Charles O. Holliday, Jr., then the chairman and CEO of DuPont, who used the occasion to make a strong pitch for business support of the UN Global Compact, Annan’s initiative to secure private-sector support to advance international human rights, environmental protection and related goals.

Speaking just a few months after the United States and its coalition partners invaded Iraq without a mandate from the UN Security Council, the secretary general declared that the UN was at “a fork in the road, with one path leading toward true revitalization and effectiveness, the other toward disappointment and despair.”

Annan urged the business community to stay engaged as the UN undertakes to reinvigorate its efforts to promote peace and stability around the world. “It would be unthinkable for the private sector not to be closely involved, both in policy-making discussions here at headquarters, and in projects on the ground,” he said.

USCIB Represents Business at State Department Anti-Corruption Training

USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was the business community panelist at an August 10 State Department anti-corruption training session during a week-long “Tools and Strategies to Combat Corruption” course for State Department officers headed overseas this summer.

The session, at State’s Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia was an informal give-and-take on how U.S. embassies and consulates abroad can work with the private sector to combat bribery and corruption. Donnelly was filling in for USCIB colleague Eva Hampl, who has participated in previous anti-corruption training sessions.

“I thought we had a very useful discussion of how U.S. business and local U.S. embassy staff members can cooperate on win-win efforts to combat corruption and bribery by local firms and government officials as well as third-country competitors,” Donnelly said. “Corruption anywhere is a cancer on governance and politics; it can also cost American businesses and workers a fair shot at winning major trade and investment deals. Business and government need to be full partners in combating this cancer.”

Registration Open for USCIB’s Engaging Business Forum

USCIB, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring the 10th Engaging Business Forum, hosted by The Coca-Cola Company. The Forum will take place on September 13-14, in Atlanta, GA.

This year’s Forum will focus on collaboration through partnerships to address business and human rights trends and developments. Panels will discuss what works/doesn’t work in partnerships, access to remedy, human rights defenders, supply chains, among other topics. Speakers include Guy Ryder, Phil Bloomer, Anita Ramasastry, John Morrison and many more. In addition to hearing from our speakers, there will also be opportunities for networking and peer-to-peer learning roundtables. The full agenda can be found here.

If you would like to participate, please register here. Space is limited, so registration will be on a first-come first-serve basis. If you have any questions, please reach out to Elizabeth Kim (ekim@uscib.org).

US and Japan Commit to Open, Reliable and Secure Internet

At a recent policy cooperation dialogue on the internet economy between the United States and Japan, the two nations emphasized their continued commitment to an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet. This dialogue served as the ninth meeting of the U.S.-Japan with regards to the internet economy and took place in Washington, DC, on July 23 and 24. The dialogue included discussions with private sector representatives from both countries on fifth generation mobile technologies (5G) and secure future Internet infrastructure, promoting cross-border data flows, international harmonization of regulatory frameworks and privacy, as well as ICT policy issues related to trending technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner spoke on a panel on the Prospect for Future Internet Policy Issues, alongside representatives from the Information Technology Industry Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Access Partnership. “U.S. and Japanese business and government have much in common with respect to opportunities and challenges in the digital economy, so collaborative approaches are very important going forward to ensure that we all reap the extraordinary economic, commercial, and societal benefits,” said Wanner.

Wanner also emphasized the need to work together in multilateral organizations and multistakeholder organizations especially in light of several countries continuing to press for government regulation of the internet by bringing Internet governance and digital economy issues under the UN or its specialized agencies. “This is not the best approach given the dynamic nature of technology development,” warned Wanner. “Heavy-handed regulations could damper this dynamism. Additionally this may open the door to efforts by some countries to use the Internet for surveillance of their citizens and possibly even censorship.”

USCIB, ILO Director General Discuss Role of Business

L-R: Laura Rubbo (Walt Disney Company), Guy Ryder (ILO), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Kevin Cassidy (ILO), Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB)

As the International Labor Organization (ILO) gears up to celebrate its centennial in 2019, ILO Director General Guy Ryder met with USCIB and 20 of its company members in Washington DC on July 20 to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. Topics covered included areas of mutual business including the ILO’s centenary in 2019, the “Future of Work,” the role of governments, the role of business at the ILO, and the work of the standard-setting committee on violence and harassment at the International Labor Conference.

For the centenary, USCIB will seek to organize a business-focused event in 2019, and also participate in an ILO event to celebrate the Philadelphia declaration. Members highlighted that they see the Future of Work, which is the theme of the ILO’s centenary celebration, as a positive opportunity to highlight the impactful role that government education and employment policies, as well as business initiatives to offer apprenticeship and training opportunities, can have to prepare workers for the jobs of the information economy and beyond. 

USCIB and its members also stressed the fundamental role governments must play in writing laws that meet international standards and effectively enforcing them, and they stressed the importance of ILO’s continued focus on helping governments carry out those core functions. Business also recommended that the ILO could helpfully prioritize providing support for governments and other tripartite partners with essential job creation, skills, employment and other relevant topics. 

USCIB also spoke very clearly about the issue of violence and harassment at work and emphasized U.S. employer commitment to this topic. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog stated that the topic is right, the time is now – especially in light of the #metoo movement, and the Employers’ hope and expectation is that the ILO is the right institution to push this issue forward. Herzog underscored that Director General Ryder and the ILO Office can provide needed support for the tripartite constituents to help reach an agreed text that provides clear and practical definitions for both public and private sector employers so they can understand their responsibilities and so that governments can be attracted to take the next step and ratify the ILO instrument. An ILO instrument that sits on the shelf that no government ratifies will not have any impact on the ground in counties where guidance and change is needed – most especially on this critical issue of addressing violence and harassment in the workplace.

As the U.S. affiliate to the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB represents U.S. employers at the ILO and provides key input to the governance and policy setting activities. 

World Youth Skills Day Focuses on Innovation, Emerging Technologies

On the margins of the High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations July 9-18, the International Labor Organization (ILO), in partnership with UNESCO, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the UN Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal, hosted an event on July 16 titled “World Youth Skills Day 2018: Sustainability and Innovation.”

The ILO estimates that in 2017, 70.9 million young people were unemployed, and in 2018, while the rate will remain stable, more young people will enter the work force. Currently, technological innovations are quickly transforming industries and skills demands, potentially creating a talent gap in the future. Therefore, it is imperative for education and skills development systems to equip youth with the right education and skills to face these changes, while supporting a sustainable future and the transition to a green economy. Given this, the event aimed to bring together member states, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society, among others, to discuss how to leverage innovation and emerging technologies to increase youth employment, and the implications for skills needs and development.

President of the UN General Assembly Ambassador Miroslav Lajčák, gave the keynote speech, and other high-level speakers included ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake, as well as the Permanent Representatives to the UN from Sri Lanka and Portugal.

USCIB Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog participated on the all-female interactive panel that followed the keynotes, and she underscored the key role of government education and labor market policies, as well as the contributions that companies and employer organizations can make to support skills acquisition, including digital, among youth.

“Close and regular dialogue between governments, business and civil society – and especially youth – is critical to our shared goal of closing the gap between the training being taught in schools and the skills needed for jobs of the future,” said Rigg Herzog. “While focusing on the technical and STEM skills is fundamental, we must not lose sight of critical soft skills like creativity and critical thinking, which are also keys to successful integration into the workplace. Companies and government education systems would also be wise to ensure effective inclusion of women and girls, given that they are 50% of the global workforce and  thus a human resource asset to be valued.”

USCIB Applauds UN on Global Compact for Safe Migration

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg delivered a statement on July 13 at the United Nations headquarters in NY in support of the final draft of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration (GCM). Goldberg delivered the statement on behalf of the International Organization of Employers and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Business Mechanism.

The Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was agreed upon by UN Member States following several negotiating rounds and aims to protect the interests of both migrants and citizens.

“Regular migration is critical to the success of our enterprises – as well as our economies,” said Goldberg. “That success requires a comprehensive and balanced approach – such as that sought in the GCM – that facilitates the economic contributions of migrants while protecting them from predatory practices.”

New ICC Secretary General Visits USCIB Offices

ICC Secretary General John Denton (left) with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

John Denton, the new secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce – the oldest and largest part of USCIB’s global business network – paid visits to our New York headquarters and Washington, D.C. office in late June and early July. He met with USCIB staff including President and CEO Peter Robinson and Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, along with a number of USCIB members. Discussion ranged from ICC pushing back against populist narratives on cross-border trade and investment to ICC institutional and management priorities.

Denton meets with USCIB members and staff in Washington, DC.

Denton, an Australian lawyer and diplomat who most recently headed the law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, was elected in March to provide executive leadership to the world business organization. He is the first Australian to head the Paris-based ICC, and joins Paul Polman, CEO of Unileveler, who was elected to serve as ICC’s chairman.

Denton says he plans to visit the United States often during his tenure, capitalizing especially on ICC’s recent elevation to full UN Observer Status. In between his many duties and visits, including those to USCIB, Denton found time to pen a letter to the Financial Times providing a vigorous defense of the multilateral trading system and the WTO. He has also recently appeared on MSNBC and took part in the UN High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development in New York.

 

 

 

 

 

SDGs Countdown: Sustainable Cities, Consumption and Production

This year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is being held July 9-18 under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council. The theme for the forum is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies,” focusing in part on Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, and Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

As part of USCIB’s countdown to the HLPF, we are highlighting some initiatives our member companies are working on to transform toward sustainable and resilient societies, while subsequently meeting the SDG targets set by the UN. More examples of initiatives can be found on USCIB’s Business for 2030 website.

SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

A notable project is one initiative by Novozymes to manage and treat solid waste and wastewater for cities. In a partnership with DONG Energy in the UK, Novozymes is incorporating special enzymes into a waste management plant in England. This will ensure that most of the waste from 110,000 UK homes is recycled into biogas, plastic, metal, and fuel. Most importantly, the biogas can be converted into green power and used to generate 5MW of electricity to power 9,500 households. The project will help aid cities to be more productive with their waste management, to be more sustainable overall, and to help achieve SDG 11.

SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Cargill is working with several partners to achieve SDG 12 to eliminate food loss and ensure global food security. Cargill addresses hunger, food waste, food security, and other issues in 18 countries by working with national food banks. They also participate in Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH) initiative, led by EAT and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which brings together business and science to help accelerate progress across the value chain for global food systems. Furthermore, Cargill is working with World Resources Institute to create and deploy an accounting system toolkit to reduce food loss and waste by setting reduction targets, creating measurement and reporting processes, and creating internal and external awareness.

Next week, we will highlight company initiatives on Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; and Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

UN High-Level Political Forum Countdown: Ensure Water, Sanitation and Energy for All

This year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UN HLPF) on sustainable development will be held from July 9-18 in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme for the forum will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” focusing in part on Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

As part of USCIB’s countdown to the UN HLPF, USCIB is highlighting select initiatives by its member companies. In particular, USCIB is selecting some company initiatives that are working to transform toward sustainable and resilient societies, while subsequently meeting the SDG targets set by the UN. A more comprehensive list of examples can be found on USCIB’s Business for 2030 website.

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

One impactful project to note is an initiative by Monsanto that led to the development of a well for clean drinking water in Malawi. A team from Monsanto Malawi discovered that students at Kaphulika Primary School near Lilongwe had a commute of two miles to the closest water source, and therefore limiting drinking water and hygiene water at the school. The team subsequently constructed a water pump on school grounds to provide clean and reliable drinking water for over 950 children and the village of 3,000 people. The children were also gifted with reusable water bottles to take water home every day after school. The development of the well is another step forward for Monsanto to help achieve SDG 6 for Malawi and the world.

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

In order to achieve SDG 7 to ensure renewable energy around the world, Mars has added solar panels to factories in California and aims to create renewable infrastructure in the U.S. and the UK. By the end of 2018, Mars will be using or purchasing renewable electricity to cover 100% of its operations in 11 countries. The use of renewable energy will help Mars reach its goal in reducing GHG emissions 100% by 2040 from direct operations and will help drive action for global climate change.

Tune in for next week when we will highlight company initiatives on Goal 11: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and Goal 12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.