BSR Conference 2019

BSR Conference 2019

November 12 – 14, 2019

San Jose, California

The annual BSR Conference is one of the longest-running and most well-regarded sustainability conferences, providing a space for thought-provoking conversations to identify solutions to the most complex global challenges. The Conference convenes more than 800 participants from around the world, including senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and governments.

For more information contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org).

USCIB Announces Launch of a Biodiversity Working Group

Responding to intergovernmental policy discussions on biodiversity, their implications for American companies, and the opportunity for private sector nature-based solutions, USCIB has announced the launch of a new multi-committee Working Group on Biodiversity. The Working Group is drawn from USCIB’s Environment, Intellectual Property and Innovation and Food and Agriculture committees to reflect the cross-cutting nature and impacts of proposed policies for U.S. companies doing business in global markets. It will begin its work in early November, with a focus on tracking and disseminating business-relevant information about the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) negotiations to interested USCIB members.

According to USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy, this new group will also provide a platform to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group, the Global Industry Coalition and other business initiatives related to biodiversity. The Biodiversity Working Group will also facilitate USCIB representation at UN CBD meetings (by both members and USCIB staff) and support the development of USCIB positions as needed.

“The UN CBD is developing a post-2020 biodiversity framework, which will feed into the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” noted Kennedy. “We hope to use this new platform to work with our international partners, such as ICC, to ensure that governments adopt policies that encourage business innovation and include business in future discussions.”

USCIB is planning to attend a workshop on November 6 in Madrid, organized by ICC and Business for Nature Consultation. Workshop participants will discuss and develop draft policy recommendations to governments that are needed to further scale-up existing actions and commitments taken by business to reverse nature loss and restore natural systems.

 If you are a USCIB member interested in joining this Working Group, please contact USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy.

USCIB Discusses International Environmental Policy With EPA Administrator 

L-R: USCIB VP Norine Kennedy, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly High Level Session got underway, USCIB members met with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler to discuss advancing U.S. business innovation and investment towards transboundary environmental challenges.

The meeting was a unique opportunity for USCIB members to engage with the Administrator on U.S. business priorities for international environmental engagement and public private partnerships while advancing economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“We needy enabling conditions for dialogue and partnership with the private sector in the multilateral system,” stressed USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his welcoming remarks. “Therefore, we do need to remove barriers to some business sectors in some parts of UN system – USCIB is working on this, and we would welcome EPA’s support in this area too,” he added.

Wheeler’s remarks focused on current environmental priorities for the EPA, such as the global water crisis, which he noted must be tackled through improving access to safe drinking water, strengthening infrastructure and preventing plastic debris from reaching oceans. Wheeler also emphasized global challenges and EPA involvement to tackle food waste.

“USCIB members had an opportunity to share perspectives on the kinds of partnerships that business and EPA can collaborate on to find solutions to global challenges, in addition to discussing the necessary infrastructure investments that are needed,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

US Business Priorities for UNGA High-Level Opening Week

Photo credit: United Nations

USCIB issued the following statement on September 18 for the 75th United Nations General Assembly High-Level opening week. The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

On the occasion of the High Level Opening Week of the UN General Assembly on the urgent and intertwined topics of climate change and sustainable development, USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate, financing for development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. In each of these three areas, economic policies that drive growth and job creation will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation.

UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

USCIB members have placed the SDGs and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda at the center of their sustainable development policies and actions.  As needed progress towards delivering the SDGs is lagging, we encourage governments to do likewise. We urge the United Nations to call for greater global action to achieve Agenda 2030, using the occasion of its 75th anniversary in 2020 to galvanize the international community and actively include business and other non-state actors.

Business for 2030 homepage logoScientific assessment, policy dialogue and assessment all need to integrate business expertise and views on a more systematic basis at international, national and local levels. The private sector brings important experience and knowledge to deliver the 2030 Agenda; it is in the DNA of business to turn challenges into opportunities and to innovate and develop practical and realistic solutions for the problems we face together.  Recent examples of this business commitment and action will be highlighted at the September 25 SDG Business Forum, organized by ICC with the UN GC, the International Organization of Employers and the UN, and can be found on USCIB’s Businessfor2030 web platform.

In addition, a renewed emphasis on public-private sector partnerships is required to crowd-in private sector solutions.   In our view, business is needed more than ever as a source of solutions, real world experience, innovative technology, financial resources and partnerships in the multilateral system.  The UNGA SDG Summit is an opportunity to move toward mainstreaming collaborative approaches among the UN, governments, civil society, and business throughout the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Climate Change

On the occasion of the UN Climate Action Summit, USCIB recognizes that we must take urgent action to tackle climate change on all fronts.  According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformation adaptation.  In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders, will be vital.

We continue in our active support of the 2015 Paris Accord and the world business position presented at COP21.  We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption

We share the concern that there is a shortfall in hoped-for progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track.  We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to bringing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, working closely with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change en route to the 25th Conference of the Parties in Santiago, Chile.

Financing for Development

A major challenge faced in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is lack of financial resources, from both public and private sources.  Domestic resource mobilization is one of the core pillars identified in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to help close this gap, and the private sector is indispensable in this regard.  However, even with robust plans to incorporate financing for development, governments still need to do more to enhance enabling frameworks for investment and strengthen rule of law and institutions needed for inclusive economic prosperity.

At the UN High Level Meeting on Financing for Development, we encourage governments to redouble their efforts to protect human rights, tackle corruption wherever it is encountered in public or private sectors and pursue democratic and transparent processes whether via international cooperation or at home.

At ‘All In’ Event, Business Makes Case for Inclusive Multilateralism to Step Up SDG Action

Wade Warren, chief strategy officer, Deloitte gives opening remarks, alongside USCIB EVP for Strategy and Business Development Abby Shapiro

World leaders will gather for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-74) in New York over the next two weeks to deliberate on the need to step up action on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change. Many of these leaders from UN agencies, business and civil society, agree that not enough progress or scale has been achieved towards attaining SDG targets. Despite the private sector’s contribution on economic, environmental and social fronts towards delivering the SDGs, constraints to meaningful business engagement remain in some UN forums, hindering productive partnerships that could advance shared value and achieve common goals.

To highlight the importance of meaningful engagement by business in the UN system, USCIB, Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) organized an ‘All In’ Conference on the importance of inclusive multilateralism and the role of business in achieving the SDGs. The conference was held at the  Millennium Hilton UN Plaza Hotel on September 11 and brought together over 70 representatives from UN Missions and agencies, U.S. government, civil society, NGO’s and the private sector to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation, share challenges and opportunities, and chart a course for a practical “2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism and Business.”

Representative from Save the Children provides civil society perspective at ‘All In’ Conference

Throughout the day-long discussions, speakers and participants agreed that trust between governments, business and civil society has been strained yet remains a crucial foundation and success factor when building long-term, sustainable partnerships to address global challenges such as reskilling of workers, improving nutrition and eradicating poverty.

“If we were to achieve our aspirations, it would require all hands-on-deck, collective action and inclusive partnerships that mobilize resources and expertise,” said USCIB Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development Abby Shapiro. “Business can bring solutions, ability to scale and make much-needed investments in infrastructure. And we know that business can do well. We believe the SDGs present a unique prism to see what shared societal value means, especially in terms of social and environmental progress.”

Melissa Kopolow-McCall of AB InBev, a USCIB member, added a company perspective, “In some ways, our company is dependent on the SDGs to sustain its business model,” she said. “So partnerships are key – but it is not clear that all agree that partnerships are welcome or even a good thing. While some may believe that profit is incompatible with public good, we do not share that view.”

Participants also engaged in dialogue with Fabrizio Horchschild, special adviser to the UN Secretary General on preparations for the seventy-fifth United Nations anniversary, Austin Smith, acting U.S. representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Robert Skinner, executive director of the UN Office for Partnerships.

USCIB Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy moderated the day-long conference

USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy presented USCIB’s two-year ‘All In’ initiative to focus on strengthening inclusive multilateralism through six elements comprising its Vision:

  1. Public-private partnerships for shared value
  2. Leverage public and private science & technology know-how
  3. Scale SDG solutions through supply and value chains
  4. Measure and monitor impact of SDG Action by Business
  5. Inclusive economic empowerment
  6. Investing in SDG infrastructure in all its forms

USCIB has convened meetings focusing on specific elements of the ‘All In Vision’ in Geneva in May, Bangkok in June and NYC in July and will consider how to continue the global conversation about institutional infrastructure and multi-stakeholder partnerships toward practical solutions that mobilize business, governments and the UN system.

Robinson Talks Policy With Senior State Department Leaders

USCIB’s Peter Robinson and Rob Mulligan meet with State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science Ambassador Marcia Bernicat

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson had three successful senior-level meetings at the U.S. Department of State this week. On August 5, Robinson and USCIB VP Shaun Donnelly met Ambassador Kevin Moley, who serves as assistant secretary for International Organization (IO) Affairs for a tour d ’horizon of shared interests across a wide range of UN and other international organizations. IO Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook joined the meeting. Much of the meeting focused on the shared objective of USCIB and the U.S. government of ensuring maximum access to and participation in international organizations for American and international business.

On August 6, Robinson, accompanied by Donnelly and USCIB SVP for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, followed up with a wide-ranging meeting with the new Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach, along with his new leadership team in the Undersecretary’s office. Finally, the three met with Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) Ambassador Marcia Bernicat to discuss climate change and other important environmental issues.

“I was very fortunate, especially in early August, to get three very high-level meetings at the State Department within twenty-four hours,” Robinson said. “Each meeting was uniquely useful for USCIB and our member companies. With Ambassador Moley and his leadership team in the IO Bureau, we were able to compare notes on a range of shared interests, many of them related for access for American and global business to important international organizations. From Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in multiple UN bodies, to global health at the WHO, to UN climate and environmental negotiations, the private sector has a vital role to play. We are very grateful for the strong support the U.S. Government and Ambassador Moley and his team have provided us at USCIB. Although our USCIB team and member companies have worked closely with Ambassador Bernicat over her year on the job in OES, this my first chance to meet her personally.  We had a good, candid exchange on the challenge confronting the U.S. Government, American business, and the world in the climate and environmental areas. We will be working very closely with her going forward on a range of important issues.

“I especially appreciate all the time new Undersecretary Krach and his ‘E office’ leadership team spent with us today. We touched on a lot of important areas for cooperation going forward, from trade and technology to economic security and international organizations, including the OECD. Undersecretary Krach brings a very impressive private sector background to his new role as the senior economic policy official at the State Department. I assured him that USCIB stands ready to assist him and his team on any and all issues.”

Staff Contacts:

VP, Investment & Financial Services Shaun Donnelly (202.682.1221)

VP, Strategic International Engagement, Energy & Environment Norine Kennedy (212.703.5052)

USCIB Joins Congressional Lobby Days to Push for USMCA

USCIB joined the effort of the USMCA Coalition in its most recent Congressional Lobby Days just ahead of August recess, which reached more than 100 House offices. USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl joined a group which met exclusively with House Democratic offices July 24-25. According to Hampl, representatives noted that they understood the importance of USMCA for the economic future of the U.S.

The Coalition referenced the July 23 letter signed by over 600 business associations across the country in pushing for urgent Congressional approval of USMCA.

There was a keen interest in the USMCA working group of House Democrats, which was established last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address some Democrats’ lingering concerns about issues in the agreement, specifically on labor, environment, enforcement and pharmaceutical pricing. While there were varying views on the substance of those discussions, there was general approval of the process. Many are looking to Pelosi for next steps. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team continue to meet with members of the working group. Discussions have been described as productive, and the Coalition has urged all parties to continue this important work during the August recess. The Senate remains in session this week.

“The Coalition is emphasizing the urgent need for action to move the agreement through Congress,” said Hampl. Hampl also noted that approval will depend on a collaborative approach.

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on USMCA today (July 30) and is featuring auto industry, agribusiness, transportation, dairy, and small business representatives, as well as a witness focusing on labor policy. For a list of witnesses please click here.

USCIB Partners With Deloitte, IOE to Launch Report on Scaling Investment for Sustainable Development

Patricia Buckley of Deloitte explained the report’s findings.

While global leaders meet in New York this week for the annual United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), USCIB partnered with Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers to launch a new study that shows the critical role the private sector will play in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which calls for promoting “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”  According to some experts, the success of the entire SDG agenda depends to a large extent on achieving SDG 8.

The event was attended by corporate leaders from Fortune 500 companies, small business company executives, top UN officials, the heads of USCIB and IOE to map out the path to increase private sector investment in SDG 8 targets.The report Reaching SDG8: Challenges, Opportunities and Risks provides detailed data analysis on current progress towards meeting the targets of this goal.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson launched the discussions. “There is an urgent need to develop new and inclusive partnership models that engage business and other non-state actors as equal partners with government,” said Robinson. “This model will embrace innovation, mobilize resources and expertise, and create shared accountability and value.”

According to the report, “the findings are discouraging, as the rate of global progress has, so far, not kept pace with the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. Very little success has been achieved on […] increasing employment opportunities, especially for the young workforce; reducing informal employment, labor market inequality, and gender discrimination; improving resource efficiency in consumption; promoting safe and secure working environments; and improving access to financial services.”

IOE President Erol Kiresepi, who attended the launch event, also provided his insight in a recent blog post, in which he warns that the global community has just over a decade to ratchet up action or run the risk of failing to achieve this ambitious development agenda with devastating consequences. “To bridge the gap between the aspirational and actions on the ground, employer and business member organisations can play a pivotal role,” writes Kiresepi. “Employer organizations worldwide have long and deep experience in translating development agendas into corporate strategies and frameworks.”

In discussing the results of the report, Patricia Buckley, managing director for economics at Deloitte U.S., highlighted “how little progress has been made on most of SDG 8 targets – targets which called for a variety of improvement ranging from increasing skills and reducing informal employment to improving resource efficiency and expanding access to financial services for all.”

World Chambers Congress Tackles Key Development Issues

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) concluded its 11th World Chambers Congress on June 14, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year’s Congress included three days of engagement among over 1,000 delegates on key issues affecting chambers and their respective business communities.

The Congress focused on four main initiatives, including a sustainable future for all, skills for the future, financial inclusion and the World Chambers Competition. “This year’s event was a huge step forward in engaging the chambers network more actively and cohesively in ICC’s global work – with great buy-in for our five campaigns and a growing interest in how ICC can help chambers redefine their value proposition in a market that is undergoing significant disruption,” reflected ICC Secretary General John Denton.

Denton also highlighted a new initiative as part of ICC’s campaign to “Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business.” The “Chambers Climate Coalition” provides a platform for chambers to visibly demonstrate their commitment to take action aligned with the Paris Agreement and the latest climate science. It also provides an opportunity to showcase the important role Chambers can play in driving the transition to a cleaner and more resilient planet. More than 450 chambers from six continents have already signed-up for the Coalition – with signatories from countries including China, India, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States.

“We are already rallying other chambers to sign on and will be providing toolkits to signatories to ensure effective local climate engagement in the coming months,” said Denton. The Coalition has received strong support from the United Nations Secretary General’s team and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

USCIB Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly attended the meetings on behalf of USCIB.

The next Congress will be held in Dubai in 2021.

USCIB All In Initiative

USCIB All In

About

Faced with the urgent need to make faster and smarter progress towards achieving the ambitions of a range of international agreements including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Framework on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, inclusive multilateralism is essential. In this context, USCIB has developed a 2 year initiative: “Campaign All In.”

All In has launched a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes via the multilateral system. The Campaign brings together policymakers and global businesses in key UN cities to begin a conversation on opportunities for harnessing the power of all industry sectors to achieve the SDG goals and other sustainability initiatives.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Campaign All In was launched during a roundtable event on May 8, 2019 in which USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first All In Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok on June 11 and in New York in July. Together, the three roundtables will address six key themes:

  1. Enabling Public-Private Partnerships with the UN for the SDGs (Geneva)
  2. More than the sum of the parts: Leveraging public private cooperation in science and technology for the SDGs (Geneva)
  3. Using Value Chains to mobilize multi-sector engagement and synergy for the SDGs (Bangkok)
  4. Economic Empowerment and inclusion to catalyze SDG impact (Bangkok)
  5. Investing in Infrastructure in all its forms for the SDGs (NYC)
  6. Measuring and Mainstreaming Impact of Private Sector Engagement on SDGs (NYC)

Utilizing the outcomes from the 2019 discussions, All In will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

Events

Geneva Week roundtable

Upcoming:

  • New York UN General Assembly Conference
    • When: September 11, 2019
    • Where: Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza
    • Agenda: Available here
    • Registration: Available here

Past: