Dear colleagues and members,
It has been a busy period for ICC as we work to represent your interests in a range of international processes that will have a major impact on business for years to come. From the ongoing UN climate talks to the proposed reform of the international tax system, ICC—as the world business organization—is uniquely placed to help shape policy outcomes this year that support global business and entrepreneurship.
Here’s an update on some of our key activities from the past month.
B20 – International Business Advisory Council (IBAC)
Last month’s IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings were used to launch a strategically important B20 initiative: the International Business Advisory Council.
IBAC, chaired by Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola for the remaining term of the Turkish G20 Presidency, will be responsible for delivering a concerted advocacy campaign around key B20 recommendations in the run up to the Antalya Summit this November. IBAC will promote greater continuity between yearly B20 cycles—avoiding the “stop start” process we’ve seen in recent years.
I’m delighted that ICC has been asked to act as the Secretariat to IBAC—a role which will further enhance our influence within the B20 process. A major focus of IBAC’s advocacy work will be the implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. It remains the case that only four governments have ratified the TFA to date, but I am confident that IBAC—with the support of the ICC network—is well placed to inject new (and much needed) momentum into this process.
Further details on IBAC’s advocacy work and how you can get involved will follow shortly.
The coming months are expected to see the agreement of a new global framework to support sustainable development through to 2030.
Last month, I spoke alongside the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, at a special hearing on “Financing for Sustainable Development” at the UN headquarters in New York. The hearing was the first opportunity for the private sector to provide direct input to policymakers on the development of a new global framework to support development financing. While aid spending will remain a crucial part of international development co-operation, there is growing recognition that a much stronger role for private capital will be needed to implement the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The hearing’s focus was on the ability of small- and medium-sized enterprises to access bank finance. This remains a major obstacle to growth in developing and least developed economies and I took the opportunity to underscore ICC’s continued concerns about what appears to be a growing shortfall of trade finance in some markets. We think that the ICC Academy has a key role to play in building capacity to enable SMEs to use bank finance more effectively; but we are also calling on policymakers to address regulatory barriers to the provision of trade finance by financial institutions.
Earlier this month, I gave a keynote speech at the Olso Business for Peace Awards. In my remarks, I emphasized the urgent need to change the terms of the debate on the role of business in society in the context of the SDGs process.
We all know that bad news sells, but it is unfortunate that negative news stories about business outnumber positive ones by an estimated ratio of 17:1. As policymakers look to the private sector to do more to promote development, it’s vital that there is proper recognition of the central role business plays in raising living standards the world over. This is a message that we will be emphasizing at the highest levels as the SDGs move towards finalization this September.
UN climate talks
A major focus of our work over the past month has been the build up to the Business and Climate Summit which starts in Paris today. The Summit will bring together over 1,200 business leaders and policymakers some 200 days ahead of the landmark Paris climate conference (COP21) this December.
We are working to ensure that the Summit sends a clear message to the UN negotiations about the need to secure a deal at COP21 that works for and with business to meet the climate challenge. Last week, I took part in a special question and answer session on Twitter—hosted by The Climate Group—which was followed by almost 2 million people. The session provided a great platform to reiterate our call for business to be given a recognized substantive role under any new climate treaty.
Last month, I was also delighted to take part in the “pre-launch” of the new edition of ICC’s Sustainable Development Charter at a major climate event hosted by ICC Mexico. The Charter is a practical tool which we hope will enable companies of all shapes and sizes to develop their own business sustainability strategies. The official launch of the Charter will follow in New York in June.
In April, we also launched the new ICC Cyber security guide for business at the 4th Global Conference on Cyberspace in The Hague. We think that ICC Guide has an important role to play in helping companies enhance their defences against cyberattacks—a growing problem which is estimated to cost the private sector up to US$400 billion a year. Further outreach around the Guide will follow in the months ahead.
As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any issues you would like to raise with us. The better we understand your views and interests, the better we can represent you on the global stage.
With best wishes,