New Video Highlights USCIB’s Value Add

USCIB has launched a new video highlighting the organization’s policy expertise, close working relationship with decision makers and links to key international business organizations. The video features many of USCIB’s policy experts including USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, USCIB Senior Director for Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy and USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog. (See video below.)

The video was presented at USCIB’s 2018 International Leadership Award Gala, which honored Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

Unilever’s Polman Exhorts Industry to Redouble Action on Sustainability

Unilever CEO Paul Polman
Companies need to spur new partnerships to get to the “tipping point” on sustainability, said the 2018 recipient of USCIB’s International Leadership Award.
Hundreds of attendees gathered at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations for the annual USCIB award gala.

Business leaders must increase their commitment to sustainability, partnering with governments, international organizations and NGOs, if humanity is to avoid serious crises resulting from environment degradation and persistent poverty, according to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and the 2018 recipient of USCIB’s International Leadership Award. Polman was honored at a gala dinner last night at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations in New York.

“We need to create broader partnerships to get to the tipping point” of tackling climate change and other global challenges, according to Polman. “It doesn’t take much to move the global agenda. It just takes a few people. It takes the right leaders, leaders with a high awareness of what is going on, but also a high ability to engage. Leaders with a certain sense of humanity and humility, purpose-driven, longer-term, willing to work in partnerships. Not necessarily the skills that we’ve all been taught.”

L-R: USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, ICC Secretary General John Denton, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, USCIB President & CEO Peter Robinson

USCIB’s annual award dinner attracted hundreds of top business executives, policy makers and members of the diplomatic community to the UN headquarters on a crisp, starry night, with speakers extolling the importance of a strong business role in confronting global challenges. UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed applauded the private sector’s participation in realizing the ambitious 2030 Development Agenda, and she, like Polman, encouraged companies to do more.

As global leaders confront new, populist challenges on trade, USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, CEO emeritus of S&P Global, said that governments and international organizations also must do more to ensure the 2030 goals are met. “Without expanded cross-border trade, smart regulation and support for innovation, there is not a chance in the world that we can hit the mark of the UN’s 2030 Agenda,” he stated.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took the opportunity of the 2018 award gala to note the 70th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which he called “a fundamental recognition of our shared humanity and the equality of every person in the eyes of God and in the eyes of their fellow men and women.” He told gala attendees that “USCIB members stand united in support of human rights, and we pledge to do all we can in the ongoing struggle to defend human dignity.”

Robinson also introduced a new USCIB video highlighting the organization’s policy expertise, close working relationship with decision makers and links to key international business organizations. (See video link below.)

But the evening belonged to Polman, who recently announced plans to retire from the helm of Unilever following a long career with the company. “There’s no reason for 840 million people to go to bed hungry every night, not even knowing if they [will] wake up the next day. There’s no reason for us to waste 30 to 40 percent of the food that we produce. There’s no reason to value a dead tree more than a tree that’s alive, taking the lungs out of the world.”

John Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, which Polman chairs, praised the Unilever CEO’s generosity, grace and openness as a person.

The Unilever chief used his experience transforming his company’s social and environmental footprint as an indication of what could be done if corporate leaders put their minds to it. “Unilever’s model is indeed decoupling our growth from environmental impact, but also to maximize our overall social impact. At a time when trust is low, we think the only way to regain that is with transparency. Transparency builds trust, which is the basis for prosperity.”

He continued: “By having that simple focus, you will soon discover that you’re better off as well, We are getting two million people [applying for jobs at Unilever] every year, in fact the third-most on LinkedIn, after Google and Apple.”

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented annually to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, recognizing outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Recent recipients have included Ajay Banga of Mastercard and Randall Stephenson of AT&T. More on the annual event is available at www.uscibgala.com and photos from the event are here.

USCIB Champions Business Partnership in Migration Policy

Well-managed, migration is a vehicle for fulfilling personal aspirations, for balancing labor supply and demand, for sparking innovation, and for transferring and spreading skills.
Unduly closing borders to migrants is detrimental to business needs at all skills levels. Thus, the overarching goal of the private sector is a regulatory environment in which labor migration policies support business development to create job opportunities and economic prosperity.

 

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and UN Global Compact on Migration (GCM) Summit were held back-to-back in Marrakech, Morocco December 5-11. USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg represented USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) as part of the Business Mechanism to the GFMD at both meetings.

The GFMD Business Mechanism was the primary vehicle through which the private sector contributed expertise and advised governments on aspects of labor migration policy pertaining to select provisions of the GCM, specifically those dealing with flexible pathways for regular migration, responsible recruitment and skills mobility and development.

IOE President Erol Kiresepi was also active during the Summit, presenting Business Mechanism views and commitments during the Opening Session of the Summit.

Goldberg participated in two side events: one as panelist on the Implementation of the GCM and another as moderator at a USCIB co-sponsored event Partnering with the Private Sector: The GCM and Business.

The Partnering with the Private Sector side-event took place on December 8, co-organized by IOE and PMI, and highlighted the crucial role the private sector plays in ensuring safe and orderly migration. As such, side-event participants advocated for a transparent legal framework to support business environments conducive to economic growth and development.

“Clear and well-implemented migration policies are an integral part of a regulatory framework conducive to economic growth and development,” said Goldberg. “Well-managed, migration is a vehicle for fulfilling personal aspirations, for balancing labor supply and demand, for sparking innovation, and for transferring and spreading skills. It also can provide  protection against unethical recruitment that could result in human trafficking and forced labor,” she added.  “Unduly closing borders to migrants is detrimental to business needs at all skills levels. Thus, the overarching goal of the private sector is a regulatory environment in which labor migration policies support business development to create job opportunities and economic prosperity.”

USCIB Member Marriott Wins Coveted Integrity Award

 

USCIB member company Marriott International won the 2018 Corporate Leadership Award from the Coalition for Integrity, a leading U.S. anti-bribery, anti-corruption organization.  Marriott was awarded the prestigious Corporate Leadership award at the Coalition’s annual awards dinner held in Washington, DC on October 29.

Marriott International’s Chief Compliance Officer William Dempster accepted the award for Marriott and delivered brief remarks.  Marriott was singled out for its efforts to foster a culture of accountability and anti-corruption compliance.  The Ethisphere Institute has recognized the company for 11 years as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.”

For the fifth time in the eight years the Coalition has been presenting its Corporate Leadership award, a USCIB member company was honored. Marriott joins a distinguished list of other USCIB member companies including General Electric, Coco-Cola,  PepsiCo, and Bechtel which have also received the coveted award.

USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly, a member of the Coalition for Integrity’s Policy Advisory Board, and USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl represented USCIB at the awards dinner.  Donnelly and Hampl lead USCIB’s anti-bribery and anti-corruption policy work, including with the U.S. Government and with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  in Paris and other international partners.

“USCIB is delighted to one of our leading member companies win the Coalition’s Corporate Leadership Award again this year,” commented Donnelly.  Marriott is a great example of principled, proactive leadership in combating bribery and corruption.  We are proud of the work Marriott and other member companies are doing every day in this important policy area.”

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 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.

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.

 

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.

 

Climate Talks Make Limited Progress, As Clock Runs Out on Implementation Rules

Meeting adjourned with 300+ pages that negotiators have to transform into a set of rules for governments and businesses.
Sticking points: differential treatment of reporting procedures by developed and developing countries and lack of attention to reporting on financial assistance commitments.

 

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change convened an additional negotiating session in Bangkok, Thailand from September 4-10. Representatives of over 190 governments gathered in intense discussions to conclude rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement, which are due at the next climate governing body meeting in Poland from December 4-14.

While government representatives worked around the clock in Bangkok to develop streamlined negotiating text that could be finalized at the end of the year, the meeting adjourned with over 300 pages that negotiators will have to tackle in the limited time left and transform into a set of rules that governments and businesses can use as a blueprint for investment, energy mix and other long term decisions.

While the Bangkok deliberations were to focus on operational details relating to reporting, tracking and assessing government actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with nationally determined targets under the Paris Agreement, the discussions became contentious.

Sticking points related to differential treatment of reporting procedures by developed and developing countries, and the lack of attention to reporting on financial assistance commitments dating back to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement itself. Developing countries also continue to argue for the inclusion of loss and damage liability in future UN climate agreement procedures.

Business representatives from the International Chamber of Commerce and USCIB tracked the talks, meeting with key delegations from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy commented on the U.S. business stake in what might seem to be mainly technical details: “An important consideration for U.S. business is preserving American competitiveness and ensuring deployment of U.S. innovation in global markets. The nuts and bolts of reporting under the UN climate agreement will determine how reliably we can assess comparability of effort between countries, so we appreciate the Administration’s continuing focus on clear rigorous rules for reporting such governmental actions across every nation.”