Mastercard Wins Coveted State Department “ACE” Corporate Excellence Award for 2021

In a virtual ceremony on December 8, Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced the U.S. company winners of the Department’s 2021 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE). For the sixteenth time in the twenty-two years that the ACE award has been presented, a USCIB member company is among the winners.

This year, Mastercard received the ACE award in the multinational company category for “Economic Inclusion,” recognizing its path-breaking work in India to expand financial services to under-banked communities. Mastercard and the U.S. company winners in other categories were honored for their contribution to economic and social progress around the world and the advancement of American values. Secretary Blinken, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires in India, and senior State Department economic officials participated in the virtual ceremony.

Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach accepted the award on behalf for the entire Mastercard team and delivered brief remarks. The State Department website includes details on the award and video link to the ceremony. Mastercard’s public statement also includes interesting details.

In the twenty-two years the State Department has been presenting the ACE Award, sixteen times at least one USCIB member company has been honored. Last year The Coco-Cola Company was a winner for its impressive efforts for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Azerbaijan. In 2019, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble were among the winners.

“We are delighted that again this year, the State Department’s coveted ACE award winners include a great USCIB member company,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robionson. “This is not a coincidence. USCIB members are widely recognized here at home and around the world not only as successful business and leaders in their respective sectors but also as representing the best of American business and our ability to spread American values of inclusion, respect, enlightened personnel policies, investing in employees and communities and responsible stewardship of the environment.  We congratulate and commend Mastercard on its imprssive effots in India and beyond and welcome them to a very impressive club of USCIB member winners of the ACE Award.”

USCIB Statement on the Summit for Democracy

Washington D.C., December 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the recent Summit for Democracy and reaffirms our long-standing support for the critical importance of democracy and rule of law as foundational pillars of well-functioning and inclusive societies.

We agree, as the Biden Administration rightly stated, “that both history and overwhelming data show that societies that respect and defend democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and gender equality are more stable, prosperous, secure and better equipped to confront global challenges.”

“Businesses are key actors in democratic societies, contributing to civic and economic empowerment of people and public institutions, while advancing growth and equality,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Importantly, business and employer membership organizations are themselves democratic institutions and a core part of the fabric of democratic societies.”

USCIB advocates for good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption and anti-bribery frameworks and other measures of responsible governance, as being among the required elements of the enabling environments for trade and investment that bring growth and opportunity. Indeed, UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” makes clear the key role that governance and the rule of law play in promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies and in ensuring sustainable development.

As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of CommerceBusiness at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers, USCIB joins with global business and employer peers in advocating these policies in international policy fora, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations. As an example, we note in particular USCIB’s engagement through BIAC to support the recent successful launch of the OECD Public Integrity Indicators Portal and the 2021 Recommendation for Further Combatting Bribery of Foreign Officials.

Finally, USCIB and its members reiterate their firm belief that alongside national rule of law and good governance, based on democratic principles, multilateral cooperation is the single most powerful vehicle to achieve an inclusive and sustainable path to dealing with the enormity of the challenges facing society today. Business is a necessary voice in that effort, and USCIB will continue our work to engage meaningfully and constructively as a leading actor at home and within the multilateral organizational system to advance democratic principles and rule of law.

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.

Herzog Joins Sweden Foreign Minister Linde in Discussing Women’s Economic Empowerment

Gabriella Rigg Herzog

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog joined a panel discussion organized jointly by the government of Sweden and the International Labor Organization (ILO) titled, “Women’s Empowerment and Worker Rights in a Post-Pandemic World” on November 12.

Moderated by The American Prospect Editor-at-Large Harold Meyerson, the event included other speakers such as Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, AFL-CIO International Department Director Catherine Feingold and U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Undersecretary for the Bureau for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee.

In her remarks, Herzog joined with other panelists in raising concerns over the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women, and the risk of backsliding on the gains made to date for women’s economic empowerment in the workplace. The conversation also turned to the issue of global supply chains and their possible role in advancing good practices regarding women’s rights and worker rights. In responding, Herzog noted many positive company efforts, and underscored the irreplaceable need at national levels for good governance, rule of law and effective enforcement of laws that meet international standards.

On the latter point, Herzog shared examples of discriminatory legislation in far too many jurisdictions holding women back. “Removing legal restrictions that hinder women from participating in the formal labor market and having formal self-employment opportunities such as proper access to finance for female entrepreneurs is key to addressing inequalities,” Herzog emphasized, noting the importance of joint efforts by governments, employers and workers to tackle shared challenges and priorities.

In terms of concrete policy recommendations, Herzog noted those put forward on October 7, 2021 in the “B20 – Special Initiative on Women Empowerment” policy paper, such as eliminating legal and cultural barriers to paid work and actively upskilling female workers.

Additionally, Herzog highlighted the key role employer organizations play as democratic institutions supporting small and medium sized businesses – especially at national levels –with training, tools and peer-exchanges on how to promote and advocate for gender equality and diversity at the workplace.

As COP26 Concludes, USCIB Calls for a New Inclusive and More Ambitious Approach

While COP26 came dangerously close to a “Copenhagen” breakdown over a lack of trust in the process due to last minute changes in the final text, the meeting concluded on November 13 at nearly midnight as approximately 200 countries agreed to the “Glasgow Climate Pact,” reports USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, throughout the final week of the intense two-week session, views had remained divided on substantive issues, most of which linked in some way to unmet finance needs, and also concerned gaps in pledged greenhouse gas reductions compared to scientific assessments of actions necessary to limit dangerous warming.

Following recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports of current national action pledges, the pressure was on to keep “1.5°C alive” and to finalize the outstanding elements – notably “Article 6” on carbon markets – of the Rulebook (the practical guidance for implementing The Paris Agreement).

“This meeting took place under numerous challenging circumstances,” added Kennedy. It was the first, major UN in-person meeting during the pandemic, held under stringent public health measures which included daily testing for all participants. COP26 was also taking place during a period of economic headwinds and uncertainty coupled with, higher energy prices. Outspoken climate campaigners inside the meeting areas and protesters outside, along with a higher-than-expected participation of more than thirty-thousand participants kept the pressure on. On the other hand, a record number of business participants on hand, including during the World Leaders Climate Summit, which comprised the first three days of the COP, signaled clear business support for ambitious climate action.

USCIB staff and members organized two U.S. business events in the final week:

  • A virtual USCIB side-event on “Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment for a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery,” featuring speakers from Duke University, General Motors and Generate Capital and
  • A Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) side-event on where business can make a running start to advance economy-wide action on climate change, in preparation for COP27. Speakers from Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Mohamed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection and WorldSteel shared perspectives on converging employment, trade and energy transition policies, working with the private sector.

“In spite of unparalleled support by U.S. companies for an ambitious outcome, working with the Administration, we were disappointed by scant mention of business in the Glasgow conclusions,” stated Kennedy. “The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) served as the focal point for business at COP26, debuting new ICC papers on carbon pricing and on sustainable trade finance.”

Looking ahead to the next major UN climate meeting in Egypt in 2022, several thorny issues remain, including lingering dissatisfaction with lack of adequate finance and questions about whether high-emitting countries (such as U.S., China, India) will be able to offer enhanced pledges of emissions reductions. USCIB members will be preparing recommendations to inform the UN “Global Stocktake,” which will form a basis for future action, and continue to advocate for economy-wide approaches inside and outside the UNFCCC that advance energy access and security and substantively engage U.S. business knowhow and innovation.

USCIB’s COP26 Concluding Statement can be found here.

UN Climate Agreement in the Balance: Role of Business in Innovation and Investment

Virtual BizMEF Dialogue at COP-26

As the second week of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) was underway in Glasgow, USCIB and its members continued to make the case for outcomes at a critical turning point to enable business investment, energy security and ambitious and cost-effective climate action.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy, who is on the ground in Glasgow to lead the USCIB delegation, governments are now negotiating the final crunch issues that include: carbon instruments and markets and completing the Paris Rulebook; increasing finance for developing countries, particularly for adaptation, as well as loss and damage; and transparency and credibility of pledge implementation.

“The UK government serves as the President of the COP26 meeting, and is now leading negotiations to reach conclusions on these and other remaining political matters, with involvement of ministers to break any logjams,” said Kennedy.

Last Friday, November 5, USCIB joined the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) in convening a virtual Business Dialogue at COP26, which included White House, government, the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and business participants. The meeting included thematic sessions on transparency and the global stock-take, involving business for ambition, as well as trade, transition and recovery.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson opened the BizMEF meeting, stating that the UN climate process should evolve to a more practical and inclusive multilateralism in which business is directly and substantively involved.

BizMEF virtual dialogue participants also heard presentations on the business implications and WTO viability of border carbon adjustments proposals, and the ways in which business can contribute to reviews of the effectiveness of overall government implementation of climate pledges – a process that sets the stage for new targets under the Paris Agreement.

Building on the momentum of the BizMEF event, USCIB then held a virtual side event the following Monday, November 8, titled “Mobilize: Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment for a Sustainable Recovery,” which was part of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) virtual COP26 Conference, “Making Climate Action Everyone’s Business.”  Presenters included:

  • Elizabeth Losos, Duke University Nicholas School of Environment
  • Scott Jacobs, CEO Generate Capital and
  • Kristen Siemens, Chief Sustainability Officer, General Motors

Kennedy led the roundtable discussion on how to create enabling frameworks for “shovel worthy” projects with due attention to responsible business behavior, multi-sectoral climate considerations and capacity building.

According to Kennedy, in spite of COVID restrictions, COP26 has become the largest climate meeting in UN history, beginning with a three-day World Leaders Summit, where President Joe Biden and over a dozen Administration Cabinet members were in attendance, alongside other heads of state and CEOs.

CEOs of USCIB and Novozymes Share Spotlight at COP26 Side-Event at US Center

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined Novozymes CEO Ester Baiget at a U.S. National Pavilion, known as the U.S. Center, at a side-event on “Tech for Net-Zero,” during the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) on November 2 in Glasgow, Scotland. Baiget serves as USCIB Trustee and USCIB Sustainability Champion.

The event was co-organized by USCIB and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment, and Science Monica Medina joined Robinson to open the event.  BCSE President Lisa Jacobson moderated a panel of private sector experts including Baiget, Patrick Flynn of Salesforce Amy Hadden of Schneider Electric, and Andrew Zoly of Planet Inc.

“We see COP26 as the opportunity to launch a new chapter in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, a transformative next step in the journey of international cooperation to global net zero,” said Robinson in his opening remarks. “American companies are committed to continuing to deploy innovation, investment and nature-based solutions towards a sustainable resilient recovery – and USCIB is leaning in on this, reflecting over twenty-five years of representing U.S. business in the UNFCCC.”

Medina opened her remarks with an emphasis on the role of the private sector. “Companies and investors and entrepreneurs around the world have a crucial role to play in bringing about the climate solutions that we need today and tomorrow,” said Medina. “It’s amazing that tech companies and the private sector are making such big commitments here in Glasgow. Technology and innovation are the way we elevate ambition, and that ambition is the thread that binds this conference together.

“Yes, we need solutions, and that’s where Novozymes comes in,” said Baiget. “At Novozymes, we use science to provide answers that respond to society’s most pressing needs. We bring, through nature and through a lot of science and technology, the alternatives and the solutions that lead to CO2 emissions reduction, lower waste, lower chemical use, lower energy intensity, and healthier products for our customers.”

The full video from the event is here: U.S. Center COP26 – Tech for Net-Zero – YouTube.

Wanner Receives ‘2021 Community Recognition’ for Leadership Role in ICANN

Barbara Wanner at an ICANN meeting in 2017

USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who has served as a Business Constituency on ICANN since 2013, has received a 2021 Community Recognition for her dedication to ICANN’s mission and for their invaluable contributions. Wanner is among forty-nine other community leaders to have received a Community Recognition this year.

“The ICANN Board, community, and organization are grateful for the community’s tireless efforts and cooperative spirit shown over the last year,” said David Olive, ICANN Senior Vice President for Policy Development Support and Managing Director for Washington DC. “The collaborative contributions that community members have made through our Supporting Organizations, Advisory Committees, and other groups are central to supporting ICANN’s mission. ICANN org is proud to help facilitate this work toward ensuring the security, stability, and resilience of the Internet.”

“I am honored to have received this recognition from ICANN,” said Wanner. “USCIB’s role in ICANN ensures that policies governing management of the domain name system (DNS) continue to uphold safe, secure, sustainable and resilient operation of the DNS system and the functionality of the Internet. I look forward to continuing to work with my peers and colleagues at ICANN, along with USCIB members to furthering this crucial goal.”

The ICANN Board passed a formal resolution to recognize community leaders.

USCIB Delegation Arrives at Annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)

USCIB member companies and business groups are in Glasgow, Scotland for the next two weeks (October 31- November 12), bringing their commitment, solutions and advice for a successful United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26).

In its statement to COP26, USCIB called for a transformative next step in the journey of international cooperation to global net zero and shared prosperity in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ester Baiget
Novozymes President & CEO Ester Baiget

USCIB Trustee and Sustainability Champion Ester Baiget, President and CEO of Novozymes, will join USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy and other USCIB members at this pivotal international meeting to define coherent and effective policy and market frameworks for an inclusive and sustainable recovery in line with the Paris Agreement.

According to Kennedy, only by working closely with all business sectors on innovation, investment and implementation can the international community deliver the imperatives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Justin Perrettson

Justin Perrettson, Novozymes, co-chair of the USCIB Environment Committee as well as chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Environment and Energy Commission delivered a statement at the COP26 Opening session on behalf of Business and Industry groups attending COP26.

 

 

 

 

Robinson Joins Business, Health and Employer Experts at IOE Event on COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention

Left to right: Roberto Suarez Santos, Guy Ryder, Susan Hopgood, Peter Robinson

As employers remain on the frontline of the pandemic response, caught between calls to mandate vaccination in the workplace and demands to respect the decisions on vaccination of the individual, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) hosted a timely dialogue, “COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention.”

The October 5 event brought together foremost experts from the health, employer and business fields, including World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, ILO Director General Guy Ryder, IOE President Roberto Suarez Santos and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, among others, to discuss this delicate balance, as well as the increasingly complicated situation in developing countries around access to vaccines, in addition to vaccine hesitancy. Panelists focused on a central question: how can employer organizations help companies navigate all these complex and politically charged issues?

Swaminathan outlined the stark realities of COVID-19 and the continued challenges of distribution and access to vaccines worldwide, while DG Ryder acknowledged some of the key dilemmas facing society and employers: in addition to the inequality in distribution and access, the question of mandates and of privacy, for example, is an employer empowered to know the vaccine status of employees? As an employer representative, Robinson discussed the responsibility employers have in vaccine literacy and COVID response and recovery, particularly following the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that employers—not “Big Business” but employers in general—were felt by employees to be one of the most trusted messengers of information on Covid response.

“While there have been fears of a mass exodus of people quitting and not returning to work, preliminary results show that people are following suit—trusting their employer and government—and getting vaccinated and returning to work to protect health and liberty,” said Robinson. “Recent surveys show that the public supports employers who work to protect society by requiring vaccination as a condition of entry to work. This is in sync with global efforts supporting governments to provide equitable vaccination access so that no one gets left behind.”

Robinson also referenced The USCIB Foundation’s initiative “Business Partners to CONVINCE”, or “BP2C”, designed to encourage and support employers worldwide in making the case for vaccination.

“I would like to take the opportunity to express special thanks for the support of IOE, whose role is and will be especially critical given its extensive range of employer organization members particularly as vaccines become more available in developing countries,” added Robinson. “Looking ahead, as the debate on credentials, passports, verification schemes and other ideas advance, we continue to support efforts to strategically engage business and government bodies to effectively communicate to build vaccine confidence and help galvanize support for re-normalizing a COVID-protected world. We are hopeful for a robust recovery in 2022.  Yet, if we do not work together to advance vaccine access, literacy, and uptake globally, we could face barriers for building back better. We could hit the wall and fall short of vaccination goals. Yet, I remain convinced we can find a way with business, employers and the private sector helping to forge the way forward with our efforts such as this event and in collaboration with our social partners.”

Lowry Discusses Role of WTO in Digital Revolution of Agriculture at WTO Public Forum Event

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry gave remarks at a World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum side-event on “Digital Services and Green Transition: A Promising Alliance that Needs an Incentive Multilateral Regulatory Framework.” The September 29th event, held in Geneva, was organized in partnership by USCIB, ICC France and Afed (the Association of French Large companies).

Lowry was joined by other prestigious speakers including the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the WTO and Chairperson for the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the WTO and Co-Chair of the Joint Initiative Statement (JIS) on e-commerce negotiating committee Ambassador Tan Hung Seng, the Deputy Director General of the WTO Jean-Marie Paugam and ICC’s Representative Director in Geneva Crispin Conroy.

Lowry discussed how digital tools can help mitigate risk and make farming more rewarding for all farmers—whether smallholders in developing countries or large-scale farms in the United States or Brazil.

“Digital farming can turn field, weather and agronomic data into insights that help address climate change and sustainable productivity,” said Lowry.

“However, this digital revolution does nothing if farmers do not have access to it. Whether it is the smallholder farmer in Africa or a large landowner in Argentina, the WTO can help by supporting market access for the technology and addressing data protection, the cross-boundary data interchange for both access and analysis, and the need for standards and disciplines for a carbon mechanism that promotes consistency and integrity,” added Lowry.