USCIB Geneva Week-Business in Society: Shared Values

USCIB is pleased to announce our 2nd annual Geneva Week trip for members and prospects tentatively scheduled for May 6 – 10, 2019 under the theme: “Business in Society: Shared Values.”

The purpose of Geneva Week is to generate valuable conversations and connections between the U.S. business community and UN Agencies, Missions to the UN-Geneva, and other important Permanent Representatives in Geneva. It is a week-long opportunity to:

  • highlight your company’s work and policy priorities in the areas of health care, intellectual property, nutrition and sustainability;
  • demonstrate business’ commitment and contributions towards shared goals; and
  • raise any key concerns you may have regarding the intersection of international policy making and global business.

USCIB’s targets for interactions include senior management from several Geneva-based UN Agencies and Permanent Missions, including:

Agencies Include:

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • UN Environment’s Chemicals and Wastes division

Missions Include:

  • U.S. Mission to the UN
  • Australian Mission to the UN
  • Brazilian Mission to the UN
  • Canadian Mission to the UN
  • EU Mission to the UN
  • Japanese Mission to the UN
  • UK Mission to the UN

Our desired outcome from the week is to build and strengthen relationships in support of continued and ongoing communication between Geneva-based institutions and the business community, as well as to ensure that UN Agencies and Missions clearly understand:

  • Our shared values – how and where the synergies and areas of cooperation exist between business and multi-lateral institutions – and
  • Our concerns regarding business access and business’ license to operate

Participation in USCIB’s Geneva Week is by invitation only, and costs a fee of $750.00. As spaces are limited, please contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org) to RSVP or to receive more information.

Business & Society – Creating Shared Values: USCIB Responds

April 8, 2019
1p.m. – 4:30p.m.
(reception to follow)

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
1350 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC

USCIB will hold a special briefing featuring conversations among USCIB staff and leading members on how USCIB is responding to the challenges around Business & Society. As business is expected to step up and provide the investment, innovation and capacity to scale solutions that can solve the world’s largest problems, USCIB members find themselves increasingly in the cross-hairs as anti-business sentiment continues to flourish among policymakers in forums around the world.

In response to this challenge and opportunity, USCIB has launched three new initiatives designed to show the pivotal role business plays in furtherance of the 2030 Agenda:

  • Together for Nutrition Principles – a joint project between The USCIB Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Wilton Park Foundation defining a set of principles for public-private sector engagement to advance the nutrition-related SDGs.
  • All In Campaign – an advocacy campaign bringing policymakers and global businesses together in key UN cities to engage in dialogues to advance opportunities for inclusive engagement with business from all industry sectors as essential to meeting the SDG goals.
  • Business in Society: A Crisis of Trust – a USCIB Foundation initiative that aims to influence attitudes and behaviors among policymakers through data, analysis and education to arrive at a common understanding that business can be profitable and still be a trusted partner in meeting the challenges facing society.

Join us as we discuss our work to date on these initiatives as well as what’s planned for the year ahead and beyond and how you can get involved. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks and a formal invitation will follow.

For more information, please contact Alison Hoiem, Senior Director, Member Services (ahoiem@uscib.org).

Global Pact for Environment Negotiation Fails to Reach Consensus

This first negotiating session was mandated by the UN General Assembly to review “gaps” and “fragmentation” of international environmental law, and consider the substance and form of a Global Pact.
Countries raising strong concerns included the United States with Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Russia and Iran.

 

Joining an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) delegation representing business interests, USCIB attended the first substantive inter-governmental negotiations on a UN Global Pact for the Environment (GPE), hosted at the headquarters of UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya January 14 – 18.  ICC also held a preparatory meeting on the proposed GPE in Paris on January 8, attended by USCIB members American Chemistry Council, Arkema, Bayer, Monsanto and Novozymes, along with USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

This first negotiating session was mandated by the UN General Assembly to review “gaps” and “fragmentation” of international environmental law, and consider the substance and form of a Global Pact. Some countries recommended the Pact should be a legally binding treaty that codifies “soft law” principles, such as the Precautionary and Polluter Pays principles. Other countries also suggested including rights-based approaches to a “clean and healthy environment.”

The Nairobi meeting, chaired by Ambassadors of Lebanon and Portugal, was open to observers from non-governmental and business organizations.  The session reviewed a report from the UN Secretary General on Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment Related Instruments.

Countries supporting the development of a holistic Pact, possibly including codified environmental principles, improved coordination and implementation of existing environmental agreements and defining environmental human rights, included the European Union bloc, Switzerland, Micronesia, Morocco, Peru and Senegal.

Countries raising strong concerns included the United States with Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Russia and Iran.

Most other countries expressed more nuanced views along with questions about practicality, efficacy, political viability and other areas.

“The proposed Pact opens a complex set of legal and regulatory issues, yet has not defined any actual environmental challenges that it would address,” stated Kennedy. “Until that is clear, USCIB will continue to raise questions about whether such a Pact would actually improve implementation of international environmental rules.”

The session closed with no consensus on the substance or form of a proposed Pact. Two further sessions in Nairobi are to deliver a recommendation to the UN General Assembly this September for next steps to develop a GPE. The next UN negotiating session from March 18-20 will seek to reach a common understanding on what constitutes a “gap” in international environmental law, as a precursor to seeking to agree specific “gaps” and remedies that might be set out in a UN Global Pact.

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.

UN Climate Talks Agree on Paris Pact Implementation

Norine Kennedy (center, at laptop) speaks at a business dialogue in Katowice, Poland.
Talks went down to the wire to address who pays for losses due to climate change, and how to balance responsibilities of industrialized vs. developing countries.
USCIB has urged the Trump administration to remain at the table in the UN climate process.

This year’s UN Climate Conference (COP 24) concluded late on Saturday night in Katowice, Poland, having made major progress in several key areas for American business, including on implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Over 31,000 representatives of governments, UN bodies, NGOs, business and the media were on hand in the capital of Poland’s coal-dependent Silesia province for the 24th conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president of strategic international engagement, energy and environment, attended the entire two-week conference. She noted that, despite rough patches that delayed reaching a resolution, the resulting “Paris Rulebook” now offers clarity and predictability for companies planning long term investment and operations relating to energy.

“Crunch issues, which weren’t resolved until the last minutes of intense negotiations, included compensation for climate change-related loss and damage, how to reference scientific findings on potential impacts of a 1.5 degree (Celsius) change in global temperatures, and how to balance reporting requirements for developed and developing countries to ensure comparability and fairness.” Kennedy said.

On the Paris Rulebook, an implementation guide for the Paris Agreement, governments reached compromises to advance accounting and reporting of national climate pledges, as well as information on support provided to developing countries by developed countries. Kennedy said the price of the compromises reached seems to be a decision to defer an outcome on a section of the Paris Rulebook relating to voluntary carbon markets until next year’s conference of the parties, when governments will gather again in Chile.

“The UN Climate Agreement is a dynamic enterprise that has evolved to reflect new science and include new issues, such as just transition,” she said. “But a constant in the UN deliberations is the imperative for business innovation, engagement and action.” USCIB has advocated for enhanced involvement of representative business and employers’ organizations in the policy and implementation discussions.

The International Chamber of Commerce once again provided support for private-sector representation at the COP. USCIB members attending the two-week session took part in the ICC Business Day, the Major Economies Business Forum Business Dialogue and in presentations of the Global Action Agenda showcasing voluntary initiatives by business and other non-governmental interests.

On December 9, USCIB presented its report, “Business Engagement in Implementing National Climate Pledges and the Paris Agreement.” This report gathers business and government experiences in framing and acting on national pledges, and identifies best practices as national governments strengthen their national climate programs, working with business and other societal partners.

“USCIB has encouraged the Trump administration to advance U.S. business interests in the UN climate talks, including the Paris Agreement,” Kennedy noted. “We support having the U.S. remain at the table to defend American economic interests that may arise there.”

The UN process will now move ahead towards a UN Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres in September 2019 in New York, then on to Chile next December.

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.

Update from the Field: Hunting for “Landing Zones” at Climate Change Conference in Poland

Norine Kennedy at COP24
COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.
Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets.

 

The 24th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP24) began on Sunday, December 2 and will run through December 14 under the Presidency of Poland, in Katowice, Poland.  On Saturday night, the negotiating groups delivered a first round of outcomes to be taken up by the Ministers arriving for the 2nd week.  Many key business issues remain incomplete or “in brackets” in the current draft “Paris Rulebook,” intended to guide putting the Paris Agreement into action.  For the week ahead, high level government representatives will be seeking “landing zones” to resolve remaining substantial divisions.

Over 30,000 are in attendance here, including USCIB members Arkema, Chevron, Mars, Novozymes and Salesforce, joining USCIB staff Norine Kennedy and Mia Lauter in tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.  Here in Katowice, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily meetings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day on December 6.

Sticking topics have included provision of how to treat compensation for loss and damage, financial support to developing countries for greenhouse gas reductions and technology cooperation, the design of elements relating to carbon markets and different rules and practices that would apply to developing and developed countries. Delegates are talking about the IPCC1.5 Special Report, worrying increases in greenhouse gas emissions and tensions in France sparked by the proposed fuel tax, since rescinded by the Government of France.

COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.

“So far, negotiations have proceeded predictably, albeit too slowly to conclude in time,” observed Kennedy, who leads USCIB policy work on the environment and climate change. “The complexity of technical and political issues obscures the real challenge: mobilizing private sector investment and innovation at a pace and scale that would advance the UNFCCC and Paris objectives.”

According to Kennedy, the general feeling among delegates is that a fair amount of political will, particularly among high-level representatives and Ministers of Environment, will be required in order to successfully conclude.

“There is no one issue that is dominating conversations,” added Kennedy. “Rather, the sheer number of issues to be negotiated and the level of technicality those issues present is daunting for Parties to manage (or business representatives to track).”

The smaller than usual U.S. delegation here is led by Trigg Talley, and includes other State Department, Energy and EPA representatives.  Next week, Assistant Secretary of State Judy Garber and Wells Griffith (White House) arrive for the high-level portion of the negotiations.

Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets. Countries seem to be falling into one of two camps:

  • The view of the U.S. is that any exchange – known as an ITMO (internationally transferred mitigation outcome) – should remain between the countries undertaking the transaction, and that both countries would agree their accounting and other arrangements accordingly.
  • Other parties take the view that ITMO approval should come through a centralized UNFCCC body, and that some share of the transactions (“a share of the proceeds”) should be allocated to a central fund or other UNFCCC-determined purpose.

Also crucial to business will be the potential adoption of the Silesian Declaration on Just Transition proposed by the Polish Presidency. Many parties support the Declaration, but others feel that they haven’t had enough time to examine the proposal.

“We are flagging the number of climate topics that are spilling into other forums and key issues, such as human rights and trade,” said Kennedy. “Following discussions with the U.S. Delegation here, USCIB has asked the State Department to stand firm against any intention to use participation in the Paris Agreement as a litmus test for trade policies among nations.”

Kennedy also observed that protesters and some social media accounts continue to complain about the presence of business at COP24, asserting that their involvement here constitutes a “conflict of interest” and interferes with the ability of governments to reach an ambitious agreement.  In the week ahead, USCIB members and staff will continue to express U.S. business priorities, working closely with the Administration to promote energy innovation and advance substantive business engagement.

G20 Highlights 2019 Priority Issues in Leaders Declaration

As Japan prepares to assume the role of host of the G20/B20 in 2019, G20 leaders issued a Declaration on December 1, outlining items needed to build consensus for fair and sustainable development.

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, there is noteworthy focus in the Declaration on the digital economy.Of the 31 points, at least three of the top ten focus on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation,” noted Wanner. “Points 6-7 focus primarily on potential job displacement and the need for reskilling and vocational training while point 9 draws upon the work of the G20 Digital Task Force. This underscores the importance of bridging the gender digital divide, securing the use of ICTs, and ensuring the free flow of information, ideas, and knowledge ‘while respecting applicable legal frameworks and working to build consumer trust, privacy, data protection, and intellectual property rights protections.’” Point 9 of the Declaration also calls for the establishment of a G20 Repository of Digital Policies to share and promote adoption of innovative digital economy business models.

Beyond the digital economy, G20 leaders pointed out other critical areas of work, such as international trade and investment, which serve as engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. However, the group added that the multilateral trading system has fallen short on some objectives and voiced continued support for the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to improve its functioning. The Group also reaffirmed its commitment towards preventing and fighting corruption.

On sustainable development, leaders emphasized commitment to leading the transformation towards sustainable development and support for the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda as the framework for advancing the G20 Action Plan. Regarding the role of energy, the G20 leaders recognize the opportunities for innovation, growth, and job creation, while acknowledging the role of all energy sources and technologies in the energy mix and different national paths to achieve cleaner energy systems.

The G20 focused this year on infrastructure for development, the future of work, and a sustainable food future and a gender mainstreaming strategy across the G20 agenda.

Climate Workshop Emphasizes Business Engagement

The workshop presented a draft USCIB report on Business Engagement in Implementation of National Pledges under the Paris Agreement.
Participants discussed what will be necessary to mobilize business action, investment and innovation to advance national and global actions toward the Paris Agreement.

The Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), of which USCIB is a leading member, joined forces with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (Business at OECD) to convene a day long workshop at the OECD Conference Center on October 10 in Paris. The objective of the meeting was to present a draft USCIB report on Business Engagement in Implementation of National Pledges under the Paris Agreement, and to discuss what will be necessary to mobilize business action, investment and innovation to advance national and global actions toward the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement.

This event was organized on the margins of the OECD Climate Change Experts Group meetings on October 8-9 and included key players from the OECD and the UN Climate Change Negotiations:

  • Director of the OECD Environment Directorate Rodolfo Lacy
  • OECD Climate Change Experts Group Chair Helen Plume (New Zealand)
  • Fiji Ambassador Deo Saran
  • Chair of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Science and Technology Advice, Paul Watkinson (France)

Opening the meeting, Secretary General of Business at OECD Russel Mills stated that as key implementation details of the Paris Agreement are completed, business is looking for “smart rules that would animate business expertise and enthusiasm.”  Business representatives from Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, France, the UK, Sweden, and others provided examples of public-private partnerships to advance, assess and improve national pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Professor Henry D. Jacoby, of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Sloan School of Management, reflected on the unique ability of business to connect near-term pragmatic action to long term objectives and planning inherent in the multi-decadal efforts needed to address climate change.  “Doing otherwise,” he said, “risks not only stranded assets, but stranded communities and economies.”

At the end of the session, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy presented a BizMEF proposal for an inclusive and recognized platform for business to be introduced in the UN climate change agreement.  This platform could be similar to the Global Business Platform in the Convention on Biological Diversity, organized on national and regional focal points to involve companies of all sectors, sizes and nationalities, with the mandate to respond to government requests for information or input, and to offer both implementation and policy advice to the UNFCCC process.

“We need an all hands on deck approach to climate policy design, innovation deployment, infrastructure investment and action to deliver current national pledges,” emphasized Kennedy.  “Bringing business to the table in an ongoing and mutually beneficial working relationship, linked between national and global levels, will be indispensable to growing prosperity, energy access and security and resilient solutions to climate change.”

Over 50 participants from governments, academia, the UN and business joined the discussion, which also considered the recently announced IPCC Special Report on 1.5 Degrees C.  This landmark report found that limiting an increase in global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels was possible, but would require unprecedented actions.  Parties to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement have pledged to keep global temperature change to no more than 2 degrees C, yet there is growing political pressure in the UN climate negotiations to agree a more stringent target of 1.5 degrees.

The USCIB Report will be finalized to reflect the October 10 workshop discussions, and presented at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, from December 2 – 14 in Poland.