The Business of Sustainability

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson
USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

Think the UN is all talk and no action? Think again. Two upcoming conferences could radically alter how business is done around the world.

By the end of this year, two highly anticipated UN deliberations will have altered the course of global policy and regulation. Taken together, September’s UN General Assembly session – where member states will finalize the UN’s long-awaited Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and December’s COP21 climate summit in Paris will shift markets and expectations of the private sector, and impact U.S. companies for years to come.

At the same time, critical negotiations on finance, investment and trade are unfolding that seek to mobilize business resources for climate and sustainability. These include July’s UN Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and talks on a WTO Environmental Goods Agreement. As these processes move forward, we are seeing increasing momentum, activity and heightened expectations, not just for governments but also for the business community.

This is because, unlike previous UN talk shops, these deliberations have catalyzed political leaders around the world toward action. Governments are already moving ahead. The United States, Brazil and China have all announced new ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. In Addis Ababa, governments will commit to global economic and development policies that seek to mobilize both public-sector and private-sector financial resources in support of development.

So what is the role of U.S. business in these global debates? This depends in large measure on what our government and the UN agencies involved want – and allow – companies to do. But to a substantial degree, it is also up to American business to define and shape its role in the systems and policy frameworks that will emerge from the SDGs and COP21.

Make sure agreements work with – and for – the private sector

We have an important message to deliver to policy makers: The private sector, not government, is responsible for the lion’s share of investment decisions around the world that will finance sustainable development and climate amelioration. It is business that develops, and deploys, the technologies that will surmount current sustainability challenges. The success of the SDGs and the COP21 agreement hinges on open markets and a level playing field. These have been core guiding principles of USCIB and our business partners for decades, and they are more important now than ever before.

As a responsible partner of long standing representing U.S. companies in intergovernmental agencies, USCIB has been deeply involved in all these deliberations. Our members know how important it is to find solutions that work with the private sector, and in synergy with global markets, to foster shared prosperity through innovation and investment.

Undeniably, business can, and should, lead in the transition to a more climate-friendly and sustainable economy, while improving world health and eradicating poverty and hunger. For this to happen, the policy frameworks governments put in place in via the SDGs and a global climate pact must be practical, and must consider how  the private sector’s involvement can get us all to the finish line more quickly, without compromising economic growth and prosperity or creating undue burdens on business.

Launch of Campaign 2015

campaign2015_logoJust as political leaders are catalyzing around the need for action, USCIB is rallying American business in a constructive, coordinated effort to provide a stronger private-sector role in the SDGs, COP21 and related initiatives. We have launched a new initiative, Campaign 2015, to serve as a linchpin for our work in these critical negotiations.

Through Campaign2015, USCIB will:

  • represent business interests in real time at global negotiations, ensuring business is at the table when these ambitious agreements lead to binding regulations
  • champion and amplify USCIB’s messagesthrough dedicated meetings with key policymakers
  • promote the opportunity for business investment, action, collaboration and innovation, and
  • communicate our policy views to influential audiencesby leveraging media attention around UN deliberations.

We have created a new Web platform, to showcase the private sector’s contributions to sustainable development and explain what the SDGs mean for business.  We are also engaging in a media campaign with Devex, the leading online platform for development professionals, to highlight our policy work and priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.

Our efforts through Campaign 2015 will challenge us to extend our reach and amplify our voice in new ways. More than visibility, this initiative provides business a seat at the table to inform, advise and engage throughout the negotiation processes to encourage member state representatives to enact policy frameworks that safeguard sustainable economic growth and resist negative proposals, such as those that will weaken intellectual property protection.

The bottom line is that business must be a part of the process if it is to be a part of the solution.

To learn more about Campaign2015 or to make a contribution, please visit, or contact Norine Kennedy at


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