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

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