Landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Agreed at UN Biodiversity Meetings

Left to right: Agnes Vinblad (USCIB), Danny Grajales (ICC), Daphne Yong-d’Hervé (ICC), Markus Wyss (DSM), Petra Laux (Syngenta), and representatives from the Japan Bioindustry Association

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) convened a Fifth Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-5) December 3-6, immediately followed by the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) December 7-19, 2022, in Montreal, Canada at Palais des Congrès de Montréal.  

Government delegations traveled to Montreal for the final negotiations of a new global strategic framework to prevent biodiversity loss, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, or “GBF.” The framework includes four goals and twenty-three targets for achievement by 2030 pertaining to international cooperative action by governments, business and other key actors to protect and steward biodiversity. For the first time, it includes specific targets pertaining to expectations of business and consumers. 

USCIB Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development and Policy Lead for Biodiversity Agnes Vinblad was on the ground in Montreal for the full duration of OEWG-5 and COP-15. USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy joined Vinblad on the ground for the first week of the COP. 

USCIB has been strongly engaged in the UN CBD process throughout 2022. Kennedy and Vinblad both attended OEWG-3 in Geneva in March, and Vinblad traveled to Nairobi in June to participate in OEWG-4. It was during negotiations in Nairobi that Canada was formally announced as the host for COP15, with China retaining the Presidency. This was welcomed news after two years of pandemic delays, leaving the world temporarily without a global biodiversity strategy as the prior Aichi Targets expired in 2020, according to Vinblad. 

During COP15 negotiations, Vinblad followed developments related to USCIB’s priority targets determined by the USCIB Environment Committee and the USCIB Biodiversity Working Group: Target 7 (Pollution and Plastic Waste), Target 10 (Sustainable Use/Agriculture), Target 13 (Access and Benefit Sharing), Target 15 (Expectations of Business) and Target 17 (Biotechnology). COP15 saw an unprecedented business presence with close to thirty USCIB members in attendance, and a global ICC Delegation of over seventy members.  

USCIB collaborated closely with ICC colleagues who were in attendance. ICC Director for Global Policy Daphne Yong-d’Hervé, and Global Policy Manager for Intellectual Property and Innovation Danny Grajales, coordinated daily business briefings each morning.  

While negotiations were marked by disagreement, with many sessions running from late nights into early mornings, parties managed to overcome their differences to successfully adopt the long-awaited Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The framework represents an opportunity for all stakeholders, including business, to come together to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.  

Commenting on the newly agreed GBF, Vinblad said, “The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework serves as an opportunity for business to lead the charge on responsible use of ecosystem services with the ambition of restoring and reversing biodiversity loss on a global scale. Looking at Target 15, which pertains specifically to business responsibilities and reporting on nature risks and dependencies, USCIB welcomes the language contained in the finalized text as it allows for adequate flexibility down on national level, which is critical for business to be able to meaningfully take action.”  

As final thoughts, Vinblad added that, “USCIB is looking forward to staying involved in the UN CBD process as countries now will move toward the implementation stage for the GBF, where there will be a special focus on the agreed decision to establish a global benefit sharing mechanism. While the U.S. is not a party to the CBD, many of our members operate transnationally and USCIB will continue working together to support U.S. business to best enable their efforts to leverage innovation to champion the sustainable use of biodiversity.”  

USCIB Organizes Second ‘Moving the Needle’ Business Roundtable at COP15 in Montreal

Eric Loeb speaks at the USCIB MTN Roundtable in Montreal

On the margins of the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada in December 2022, USCIB held a second Moving the Needle business roundtable. The roundtable focused on the second priority area set out by the President of the 77th Session of the General Assembly: Science. Titled Creating a Safe Space for Collaboration: Enhancing Business-Science-Policy Interface to Accelerate Implementation of the SDGs and OCA Priorities, the roundtable focused on how business innovation and R&D can inform and strengthen implementation of the SDGs to achieve OCA targets, working with and through the multilateral system by identifying opportunities to strengthen the science-policy-business interface with the ambition to accelerate implementation.

Presiding over the session, Chair of USCIB and Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Salesforce Eric Loeb highlighted the importance of promoting meaningful engagement by the business community across all sectors and the key role this will play in meeting the 2030 commitments working through and with the UN. Furthermore, “USCIB is focused on enabling private sector innovation, R&D, scientific partnerships and investments for nature-based solutions,” added Loeb.

The roundtable included eminent speakers such as OECD Environment Directorate Director Jo Tyndall, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Ana María Hernández and Head of Sustainability Partnerships, Scouting & Ventures at Novozymes Justin Perrettson, who also co-chairs the USCIB Environment Committee.

The speakers emphasized that science is key to accelerating the pace and effectiveness of government and business actions to deliver on the SDGs and OCA targets. While systems thinking and institutional innovation will be central to mobilizing private sector know-how and concerted efforts from all actors necessary to achieve our shared objectives, it is  critical for business to be part of that conversation.

Left to right: Chris Southworth (ICC UK), Daphne Yong-d’Hervé (ICC), and Prof. Tim Hodges (McGill University)

The main panel sessions included high level business speakers Kate Gibson, llobal head of ESG at Diageo, Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation, Chris Southworth, secretary general, ICC UK, Timothy Hodges, professor of Practice in Strategic Approaches to Global Affairs at McGill University Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) and Daphne Yong-d’Hervé, director, global policy, International Chamber of Commerce. As part of the knowledge community, inclusive engagement of business is important to better understand perspectives, priorities and identify the most suitable solutions. While many companies have already been involved in the science-based initiative, more widespread adoption is needed to strengthen the data, tools, and policies to guide assessment and disclosure of genuine corporate progress. The dialogue between business, government and society needs to be grounded in trust, respect and guided by science.

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy and USCIB Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad worked together to organize this second MTN roundtable with the support of Lea Felluss, project manager for MTN.

BACKGROUND: About the Moving the Needle (MTN) initiative

USCIB launched the Moving the Needle (MTN) initiative during the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2022. MTN focuses on three priorities identified by the President of the UN General Assembly: Solutions for Sustainability, Science, and Solidarity.

MTN explores how business expertise, action and resources in these three areas can be brought to the table via dialogue, partnerships, and resource mobilization, accelerating SDG implementation through Our Common Agenda (OCA), working with and through the multilateral system.

Learnings from the three roundtables will conclude with a Moving the Needle Roadmaps for Results report and provide the foundation for a white paper on Business and the UN 2.0. Further information about USCIB’s Moving the Needle can be found HERE.

At 2022 IGF, USCIB Emphasizes Inclusive, Multistakeholder Approaches to Internet Governance

2022 Internet Governance Forum

The 2022 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) informally kicked off on November 28 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, drawing a robust “post-COVID” attendance of stakeholders from around the globe. Notably, many of the participants hailed from African and Middle Eastern countries.

The Forum’s overarching theme was Resilient Internet for a Shared and Sustainable Common Future and revolved around five key issues: connectivity, avoiding Internet fragmentation, data governance and privacy, Internet safety, security and accountability and, finally, addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI).

While the IGF was formally opened on November 29, the informal sessions the day prior (“Day Zero”) set the stage for workshops and main sessions for the full duration of the IGF, which ran from November 29 to December 2. The formal launch of the IGF featured remarks by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and ITU Secretary General-Elect Doreen Bogdan-Martin. They all highlighted the IGF’s welcome return to the African continent and the Forum’s critical role as a convenor for inclusive, multistakeholder discussions aimed at sharing policy solutions, best practices and experiences. The speakers noted that these types of inclusive discussions would leverage the power of the Internet and digital technologies to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), economic growth and a wide array of societal benefits.

By the week’s end, USCIB members, led by USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, made substantive contributions in high-level sessions and workshops, several of which were organized by USCIB and ICC-BASIS, that addressed virtually all these year’s IGF themes.

According to Wanner, USCIB members’ messages amplified USCIB advocacy priorities in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN Global Digital Compact and the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy.

Day Zero featured two High Level Sessions: one focused on Universal, Affordable & Meaningful Connectivity and Digital Rights, and another focused on the Global Digital Compact Action areas of applying Human Rights online and protection of data. According to Wanner, the first session featured representatives from virtually all stakeholder groups, who agreed that participation of all stakeholders in Internet-related policy discussions remained critical as the digital ecosystem evolves to safeguard against unintended consequences from under-informed policy and/or regulatory decisions.

The first official day of the IGF featured a workshop co-organized by USCIB, Business at OECD (BIAC), and the OECD, titled Realizing Trustworthy AI through Stakeholder Collaboration. The workshop applied the OECD’s groundbreaking AI Principles as a foundation for considering both technical and operational realities for stakeholders when implementing tools and processes to ensure a human-centric and trustworthy use of AI. While AI is an innovative and evolving technology, it has the potential to revolutionize how we live, work, learn, discover and communicate. However, potential misuse of AI risks undermining personal privacy and online security protections, supporting decision-making biases that exacerbate social inequality and, thereby, causing disruptions in the labor market, among other possible pitfalls.

“Adopted in 2019, the OECD’s framework involves five values-based principles and five recommendations for government policymakers. These principles and recommendations were designed to shape a stable policy environment at the international level to promote a human-centric approach to trustworthy AI and prevent the algorithms from running away from us or out of human oversight,” said Wanner.

“The workshop was timely and the scheduling of it on Day One of the IGF was significant. The workshop distinguished the OECD AI Principles from other approaches aimed at realizing trustworthy deployment of AI, such as the UNESCO AI Ethics recommendations and the Council of Europe’s initiative to develop a binding Convention on AI.”

Distinct focus was placed on the ongoing government efforts in building trustworthy AI in the developing countries and the global South. The challenges posed by the newly evolving generative AI technology were also explored. Speakers from OECD, Meta, the Government of Chile and others offered interesting takeaways, according to Wanner.

One takeaway emphasized that as more and more countries are planning to introduce regulation over AI, all relevant stakeholders should seize the window of opportunity for collaboration to define concepts, identify commonalities and gather evidence to improve the effective implementation and enforcement of future regulations before their launch. Another takeaway included ensuring that all actors, from both technical and non-technical communities, work together transparently to develop general principles that can be applied in various contexts. This would foster trust for the AI systems of today and tomorrow. Finally, capacity-building and upskilling of the workforce remains critical.

USCIB Policy Experts Provided Extensive Input Into the B20

This year’s B20 Summit, held November 13-14, embraced the theme of ‘Advancing Innovative, Inclusive and Collaborative Growth’ in support of the G20 theme of ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’. The B20 Summit brought together world business leaders representing leading multinational corporations. In the lead up to the B20 Summit, USCIB policy experts worked closely with USCIB members through various B20 Task Forces, such as those focused on digitalization, trade and investment, integrity and compliance as well as illicit trade and illicit finance. 

USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner participated on the B20 Indonesia Digitalization Task Force on behalf of USCIB members. Wanner provided inputs to the Digitalization Task Force report aimed at ensuring that the substance aligned with USCIB contributions to the OECD digital work and the UN Global Digital Compact. According to Wanner, the focus of USCIB substantive inputs – which largely were taken on board by B20 Indonesia – were aimed at carrying through the themes of “data free flows with trust,” opposition to data localization requirements, risk-based and interoperable approaches to digital security, and the importance of multistakeholder participation in global digital consultations.  

USCIB Director, Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark served on the B20 Trade and Iinvestment Task Force and provided recommendations on behalf of USCIB members in four key areas: promote open, fair and inclusive post-pandemic global trade and investment policies; facilitate innovation and digitalization that supports international development and avoids future crises; encourage inclusivity in global supply chains; and ensure trade and investment drive greener and more sustainable development. USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin also played a key role in advancing inputs and securing inclusion of customs and trade facilitation language to reflect member and Committee priorities.  

Meanwhile, USCIB Senior VP, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated as a Member of the B20 Indonesia Integrity & Compliance Task Force alongside USCIB Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad, supporting as a deputy member of the task force. Giblin also served a critical role in coordinating efforts to gather USCIB member inputs, reflecting member and Committee priorities, on the inclusion of language specifically pertaining to illicit trade and illicit finance.  

Working with David M. Luna, chair of the USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee, USCIB submitted comments pertaining to Policy Recommendation 3 to foster agility in counteract measures to combat money laundering/terrorist financing risk and Policy Action 3.1 to refocus on money laundering/terrorist financing risk factors identification. USCIB’s submission on language recognizing the “link between the sustainability agenda, illicit trade/illicit finance, and financial crime” was adopted by the task force and is included in the final policy paper. Additionally, commentary submitted by USCIB to include language on environmental crime and trade-based money laundering is also reflected in the final policy paper. 

USCIB Statement on Climate COP Outcomes and US Business

New York, N.Y., November 28, 2022—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) sought an “Implementation Plus” approach in the outcomes of the recently concluded 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, in which the international community would realize progress in advancing food and energy security alongside climate action and mobilization of resources.

As a dedicated representative of U.S. business in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), USCIB understands and supports the urgency of tackling climate change, and was concerned that economic and geopolitical challenges could hamper or even prevent a successful outcome of this important meeting.

Despite those headwinds, government delegates were able to conclude with progress in key areas, such as loss and damage, the role of agriculture and the need to advance a just energy transition. However, we were disappointed by the absence of any meaningful reference to the actions taken by and the role of business in the Sharm El Sheikh outcomes.

Attending its 27th COP, USCIB noted an unprecedented showing by its members from every sector of the American economy, on hand to offer solutions and support a successful outcome. In addition, USCIB joined the global business community in speaking out for political will and ambitious action at COP27. Throughout the COP, USCIB welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF). We were especially proud to have the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) join BizMEF.

USCIB attended COP27 looking forward to further encouragement and support for pro-active business action, building on pledges made last year by business at the Glasgow meeting.

Throughout COP27, the U.S. private sector demonstrated its actions to mobilize markets and investment in the areas of mitigation, adaptation and support for vulnerable countries and populations that face impacts of climate change. While initiatives, such as the Report of the High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (UN HLEG), will provide additional thoughts on how such efforts can be strengthened, further work is needed to analyze the fuller implications of the 40 recommendations to drive meaningful, practical progress. USCIB is concerned that overly prescriptive approaches to voluntary pledges and allegations of  “greenwashing” could discourage and hamper further voluntary steps on climate action and finance.

Although COP27 left much still to be done to address the risks and impacts of climate change, USCIB looks to COP28 with resolve and renewed purpose. Without businesses of every sector participating in these vital deliberations, the international community will not be able to fully harness the drive, capability and commitment of business to advance the Paris Agreement.

Across the multilateral system, USCIB will continue to champion a confluence of common interests through practical and inclusive multilateralism. USCIB will forcefully and consistently make the case for catalyzing business knowhow, experience and partnership for innovation, as well as investment and job creation as we move ahead together to deliver on the promises of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement.

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC). More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB at UNGA77: Perspectives and Summary of Key Events

As the United Nations opened its 77th Session of the General Assembly, USCIB was on hand to inform the deliberations.  USCIB convened several high-level meetings, which delivered impactful and informative dialogues and practical next steps.  Throughout, USCIB highlighted the private sector’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Secretary General’s visionary Our Common Agenda, and to effective and resilient multilateral institutions, led by the UN. Below, we are pleased to share perspectives by USCIB’s leadership—USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and USCIB Board of Trustees’ Sustainability Champion and Novozymes CEO Ester Baiget—on UNGA77 and the private sector’s role, as well as summaries of USCIB events during UNGA77. Finally, we also include a look-ahead at USCIB’s ambitious plan for UN engagement and advocacy for 2023 and beyond by USCIB SVP Norine Kennedy.

Table of Contents:
  1. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson shares his perspectives on UNGA77 opening
  2. Statement by USCIB Board of Trustee’s Sustainability Champion and Novozymes CEO Ester Baiget
  3. USCIB Launches New Initiative Moving the Needle (MTN): Advancing our Common Agenda with Business
  4. High-Level Business Roundtable on Achieving Ambition and Action Across the Life Cycle of Plastic Pollution
  5. IOE-SHRM-USCIB Global Business Town Hall: A Business Agenda for Action, A Human-Centric Approach
  6. USCIB Hosts Centro Regional del Sector Privada (CR/SP) for a CEO Discussion of SDGs and Supply Chains
  7. Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond by USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy
Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson shares perspectives on UNGA77 opening

No longer on the Sidelines, Committed Business Part of the Main Event during the 2022 UNGA Opening Week

Since its inception, the annual UN General Assembly High-Level opening in New York has provided a platform for world leaders to declare their shared aspirations for the future, and earlier this month, it returned in person for the first time since the pandemic shutdown.  Even during these challenging times, UNGA opening continues to be a show of solidarity where willing nations work together on world problems, despite the diversity of views and realities.  In addition to government representatives, the annual UNGA gathering has provided an opportunity to forge collaborations for action with non-state actors.

When it comes to such collaborations for action, the landscape for UNGA opening has dramatically changed, especially since the introduction of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement. There is increasing interest from stakeholders across the board to actively engage, not just in side-meetings, but in the room and at the table – civil society, business, academia among many others.

If we take a step back and consider what this increasingly mainstreamed presence of representatives of the private sector and civil society really means, it is a testament to what the UN has achieved: it has succeeded in raising awareness and sparking commitment, notably from business (and other societal partners) around issues beyond “just talk.” Sustainability considerations across the entire spectrum of SDGs are now integrated into business strategies, targets and objectives.

The perfect formula for success in international cooperation has not yet been discovered.  There is room to improve, but an overabundance of good will is not a bad problem to have, especially in light of recent disruptive events.  That is why USCIB launched its campaign “Moving the Needle: Advancing Our Common Agenda With Business.” This campaign will advance practical private sector solutions, tools, resources and partnerships across the UNGA 77th session’s thematic pillars: Sustainability, Science and Solidarity.

The UN Secretary-General has stated that the international community faces a momentous choice: “will we break through or break down?” This question is more urgent than ever and a strong, resilient and inclusive UN is essential to that breakthrough. For all the challenges that the UN faces, there is no other institution that can bring together 193 countries alongside other non-governmental interests to advance shared goals and objectives towards a better future, and there is no more necessary partner than the business community.   

Business is ready to work with the UN. Why? Because the UN’s success and resilience are critical to the private sector’s ability to operate, create jobs, mobilize resources, and deploy solutions. Time and again, business has leaned into international cooperation for our shared interest. As the only U.S. business group in consultative standing to the UN ECOSOC, USCIB is dedicated to inclusive practical multilateralism, involving business for impact. No longer a side show, the business community is committed to do its part, working with and through the UN system, towards the UN Summits for SDGs in 2023 and for the Future in 2024.

Statement by USCIB Board of Trustees Sustainability Champion and CEO, Novozymes Ester Baiget:

USCIB has released a statement by Ester Baiget, chief executive officer of Novozymes and USCIB Board of Trustees Sustainability Champion.

We are inspired by the UN Secretary General’s Report, Our Common Agenda, and embrace its objective to supercharge implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its innovative ideas for action.  We share the concern of lost progress towards the objectives of the SDGs, and see the urgency of pursuing systemwide change to tackle climate change, plastics pollution and threats to biodiversity.

 

USCIB Launches New Initiative: Moving the Needle (MTN): Advancing Our Common Agenda with Business – September 15
L-R: HE Ambassador Chris Lu and Peter Robinson

On Thursday, September 15, USCIB launched its new initiative called “Moving the Needle (MTN): Advancing Our Common Agenda with Business” with a first roundtable focused on “Tracking Progress, Identifying Gaps.” The session highlighted business innovation, initiatives and partnerships related to information, data and metrics relevant to accelerate the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on proposals laid out in the UN Secretary-General’s report, Our Common Agenda (OCA). USCIB member Microsoft generously hosted the event at Microsoft UN Affairs Offices located at One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York. High-level speakers included the new President of the UN General Assembly (PGA) H.E. Ambassador Csaba Korosi, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) H.E. Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva, as well as U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform H.E. Ambassador Chris Lu. The main panel featured speakers from USCIB members Deloitte, LinkedIn, Google and RELX who shared their perspective on practical private sector approaches that can fast track the SDGs to accomplish key OCA proposals.

MTN will result in a white paper titled “Business and the UN 2.0,” that will offer proposals on how to enhance private sector interfaces with the UN as integral to practical, networked and inclusive multilateralism. For more information, and to express interest to contribute to the white paper, please contact Agnes Vinblad at avinblad@uscib.org

High-Level Business Roundtable on Achieving Ambition and Action Across the Life Cycle of Plastic Pollution – September 16

On Friday, September 16, USCIB, with the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and American Chemistry Council (ACC), convened a High-Level Business Roundtable on Achieving Ambition and Action Across the Life Cycle of Plastic Pollution. This off-the-record roundtable focused on how business can play an active and supportive role in the development and deliberations of a legally binding international agreement on plastics pollution, which will begin to be negotiated in November of this year. CEO’s and C-suite executives were able to exchange views with UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina. This roundtable was complemented by a limited industry roundtable organized by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) the following Monday, September 18.

USCIB will continue to engage in these negotiating processes and will be on the ground for INC-1 in Uruguay. For more information, contact Chris Olsen at colsen@uscib.org

IOE-SHRM-USCIB Global Business Town Hall: A Business Agenda for Action, A Human-Centric Approach – September 21
Emily Dickens (SHRM)

On Wednesday, September 21, USCIB joined with partners, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), to hold a Global Business Town Hall. The Town Hall, attended by nearly 300 people from across 44 countries, tackled some of pressing priorities outlined in the UN Secretary General’s report Our Common Agenda, which seeks to foster a human-centric recovery for the global workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Panels centered around four critical areas from Our Common Agenda, including resetting the multilateral system, rethinking education to close the skills gap, reforming global response to future health crises, and reinforcing human rights through the role of governance and the rule of law. Other high-level speakers and panelists included International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General Elect Gilbert Houngbo, UN DESA Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Navid Hanif, IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suarez Santos, President UN Human Rights Council Federico Villegas, and SHRM Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary Emily M. Dickens, who served as keynote, and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson who gave concluding remarks.

This town hall was a second in a series, following one organized by USCIB, SHRM and IOE during the UN High-Level Political Forum in July.

USCIB Hosts Centro Regional del Sector Privada (CR/SP) for a CEO Discussion of SDGs and Supply Chains

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson welcomed a group of CEOs and UN and business leaders to USCIB offices on September 20 to focus on the relationship and synergy between the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and business supply chains.

Lead-off presentations from UN Assistant Secretary General Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, former U.S. Representative to the UN, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and International Science, highlighted the importance of business in advancing the SDGs, which have demonstrated noteworthy staying power, and have taken on even greater relevance than when they were developed and agreed in 2015.

Subsequent presentations from C-suite representatives of AB InBev, Enel, Millicom Tigo and Walmart provided examples of initiatives to promote circular economy, economic empowerment and inclusion and climate-friendly SDG-oriented energy investments both in the Latin American region and globally.

Based in Colombia, CR/SP is an UN-private sector initiative launched in 2009 to build Latin American capacity and strengthen the pursuit of sustainable development action in the Latam region in line with the SDGs and through the active engagement of the private sector.

Looking Ahead: Norine Kennedy, USCIB SVP, Policy and Global Strategy
Norine Kennedy

The UNGA opening week may be over, but the work is just getting underway. USCIB’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Working Group will again be following and weighing in with USCIB members’ views on UN deliberations, including the customary suite of SDG-related sessions:

In 2023: 

  • The ECOSOC Partnerships Forum
  • The UN Multistakeholder Science, Technology and Innovation Forum
  • The Finance for Development Forum (FFD)
  • The UN High-Level Political Forum

In addition, USCIB will be tracking and informing further work on recommendations set out in the UN Secretary General’s Report, “Our Common Agenda.”

We will also follow and bring the voice and engagement of our members to preparations for influential mandated UN meetings and summits taking place in 2023 – 2024, including: 

  • The 5th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
  • UN High-Level Dialogue on FFD
  • UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage
  • UN High-Level Meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response
  • Preparatory Ministerial for the Summit of the Future
  • The UN SDG Summit
  • The UN Summit for the Future

USCIB at UNGA77: Business Roundtable on Action Across the Life Cycle of Plastic Pollution 

On the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77), USCIB, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and American Chemistry Council (ACC) convened a High-Level Business Roundtable on Achieving Ambition and Action Across the Life Cycle of Plastic Pollution. This roundtable focused on the UN decision earlier this year to launch negotiations on a global treaty on plastics pollution, and how business could play an active and supportive role in the deliberations. 

The message from CEO’s and C-suite executives was clear: U.S. business to work with governments and the international community to develop an ambitious and effective plastics pollution agreement that will accelerate the transition to a circular economy, while reflecting a lifecycle approach. President and CEO of USCIB Peter Robinson declared, “The key to achieve a truly implementable and successful global plastics pollution agreement will be animating all business sectors, while developing partnerships and regionally relevant win-win solutions for communities around the globe.” 

High level speakers included Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Inger Andersen, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina as well as Permanent Representative to the UN for the International Organization of Employers (IOE) Shea Gopaul.  

The roundtable discussion explored key issues, such as how the private sector and government can act jointly to accelerate the shift to a more circular plastics economy and increase the availability of recycled plastic while promoting infrastructure critical to enable efficient recycling and waste management. Some of the key solutions to solve plastics pollution will be found through unlocking private sector financing and innovation, and providing capacity building for regulators, communities, and Small and Medium Enterprises. 

USCIB Launches Initiative During UNGA: “Moving the Needle: Advancing Our Common Agenda with Business”  

L-R: HE Ambassador Chris Lu and Peter Robinson

On the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly’s 77th session, USCIB launched its new initiative called “Moving the Needle (MTN): Advancing our Common Agenda with Business” with a first roundtable focused on “Tracking Progress, Identifying Gaps.” The session highlighted business innovation, initiatives and partnerships related to information, data and metrics relevant to accelerate the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on proposals laid out in the UN Secretary-General’s report, Our Common Agenda (OCA). USCIB member Microsoft generously hosted the event at Microsoft UN Affairs Offices located at One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York.  

High-level speakers included the new President of the UN General Assembly (PGA) H.E. Ambassador Csaba Korosi, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) H.E. Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva, as well as U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform H.E. Ambassador Chris Lu.    

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, the Presidents of the General Assembly and ECOSOC both emphasized the importance of next year’s SDG Summit, which will mark the halfway point in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Private sector and all stakeholders are encouraged to actively engage in the lead up process, as it presents an opportunity for a reality check on what the world has collectively achieved since the SDGs were first launched in 2015 and how to maximize the time left.  

Daniel Altman, Public Policy, Artificial Intelligence & Emerging Tech, Google

The main panel featured speakers from Deloitte, LinkedIn, Google and RELX who shared their perspective on practical private sector approaches that can fast track the SDGs to accomplish key OCA proposals. USCIB and its members also reiterated its commitment to the UN by bringing business solutions into the multilateral system that can contribute to a better understanding of a stronger, more resilient, and effective United Nations for all.  

USCIB’s MTN initiative will be a series of roundtables, all of which will contribute to a final “Moving the Needle Roadmaps for Results” report that will provide the foundation for elaborating options towards a more systematic engagement with business in targeted practical areas aligned with the theme of the 77th session of the UN General assembly: Solutions for Sustainability, Science and Solidarity. 

Looking to the SDG Summit taking place in 2023 and the Summit of the Future in 2024, MTN will leverage upcoming opportunities to bring together representatives of UN Missions and Agencies, and business leaders to identify hands-on solutions to deliver on OCA proposals and advance the SDGs.  Based on the learnings outlined in the “Moving the Needle Roadmaps for Results,” USCIB will develop a white paper on “Business and the UN 2.0,” that will offer proposals on how to enhance private sector interfaces with the UN as integral to practical, networked and inclusive multilateralism.   

USCIB-SHRM-IOE Town Hall During UNGA Discusses Critical Priorities of UN’s Our Common Agenda

New York, NY, September 21, 2022—As the second week of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly got underway, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joined with partners, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), to hold a Global Business Town Hall on September 21. The Town Hall tackled some of pressing priorities outlined in the UN Secretary General’s report Our Common Agenda, which seeks to foster a human-centric recovery for the global workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panels centered around four critical areas from Our Common Agenda, including resetting the multilateral system, rethinking education to close the skills gap, reforming global response to future health crises, and reinforcing human rights through the role of governance and the rule of law.

“Business is a full partner and, together, we have the capacity to respond to these pressing global challenges,” asserted USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson during his closing remarks.

Other high-level speakers and panelists included International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General Elect Gilbert Houngbo, UN DESA Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Navid Hanif, IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suarez Santos, President UN Human Rights Council Federico Villegas, and SHRM Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary Emily M. Dickens, who served as keynote.

Emily Dickens (SHRM)

“The report mentions that we truly are at an inflection point in history,” Dickens told the audience of over 300 attendees, which consisted of representatives from business and UN officials. “I submit to you today that this inflection point touches no other place like it does the workplace—the location where people spend the majority of their time, the mechanism that allows people to take care of themselves and their families, the incubator for innovation that impacts how well we live.”

This town hall was a second in a series, following one organized by USCIB, SHRM and IOE during the UN High-Level Political Forum in July.

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB at the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly

Photo credit: United Nations

New York, NY, September 15, 2022—On occasion of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, taking place September 13-27 in New York, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) has released the following statement by Ester Baiget, chief executive officer of Novozymes and USCIB Board of Trustees Sustainability Champion.

“The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the return of the UN General Assembly to New York in-person.  This is a moment we have waited for since the pandemic suspended meetings and travel, impacting this essential governing body and its work.  Business depends on a strong, resilient and effective United Nations and multilateral system, and now more than ever, the private sector is an essential partner to the international community.

Ester Baiget

As a USCIB Trustee and Sustainability Champion, it is my firm conviction that the business community in all its diversity is key to tackling the numerous challenges to sustainable development that we face together: the triple environmental crisis, food and energy insecurity, threats to peace and weakening human rights.  USCIB has been a committed champion for business in the multilateral system and in particular here in New York at UN HQ, both in its own right with NGO Consultative Status to UN ECOSOC and together with those global business organizations for which it serves as U.S. affiliate: International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC).

We endorse the stated areas of priority announced by the President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Amb. Csaba Korosi, and announce that USCIB and its membership of leading companies from every sector of the American economy will focus on advancing and partnering for Solutions for Sustainability, Science and Solidarity.  As innovators, employers, and members of society, business understands the need to mobilize governments, business and other stakeholders across the policy arena to get back on track for shared prosperity and sustainable development.

We are inspired by the UN Secretary General’s Report, Our Common Agenda, and embrace its objective to supercharge implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its innovative ideas for action.  We share the concern of lost progress towards the objectives of the SDGs, and see the urgency of pursuing systemwide change to tackle climate change, plastics pollution and threats to biodiversity.

In coming days, USCIB will announce the launch of the USCIB Moving the Needle project, designed to advance and share practical business tools, approaches and recommendations to strengthen partnerships, mobilize resources and improve interfaces for business into the UN, all with the aim of accelerating implementation and advancing inclusive, practical and networked multilateralism, as envisioned in Our Common Agenda.

As it has done since its founding, USCIB and its members will join the international community across the multilateral system to deliver for people and planet.  We look forward to lending our support to COP27, COP15 and INC1, and to engaging here in New York, to build next year’s Summit for SDGs and the 2024 Summit for the Future to result in impactful outcomes that catalyze governments, business and society for the future we want.”

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD. More at www.uscib.org.