5 takeaways from the 5th ICC Asia Pacific CEO Forum

  • 13 March 2019

The 5th ICC Asia Pacific CEO Forum took place this week in Jakarta, bringing together government and business leaders for discussions on some of the most pressing global issues for people and the planet.

Co-hosted with ICC Indonesia, the event saw the launch of an Economist Intelligence Unit study – funded by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry – examining the need for coherence between climate change and trade commitments and featured a panel session discussions on how businesses, both in the Asia Pacific region and worldwide, can deliver on the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The ICC CEO Forum is a unique opportunity to bring Asia Pacific leaders together for discussions on global issues shaping the future of commercial opportunities, investments and trade,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO.

Here are our 5 takeaways from the event:

  1. More coherence is needed between climate change and trade agreements

    Highlighting findings of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on climate change and trade agreements, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton said more coherence was needed between the two. Launched during the forum the study, entitled Climate Change and Trade Agreements Friends or Foes?, was commissioned by ICC as part of its World Trade Agenda initiative in partnership with the Qatar Chamber and assesses the degree to which the World Trade Organization and four contemporary free trade agreements are aligned with opportunities for boosting climate-friendly trade flows. Launching the study at a pre-forum press briefing Mr Denton said: “This issue cannot be ignored. There has to be a way forward. The study contains information to inform and provoke debate.”

  2. To continue to thrive, business has to have purpose

    Efforts towards a more sustainable future mean that the new bottom line for business has extended beyond ‘Profit’ to include People, Planet, Parnerships and Peace. ICC Chairman Paul Polman said: “We need more businesses to understand that by being part of the solution to global challenges, they will be better off themselves too.” In his keynote address to participants Mr Polman urged the global business community to put its full weight into working hand in hand with the world’s governments to irreversibly eradicate poverty in a more sustainable and ethical way and ensure that no-one is left behind. Raghu Mody, Founder of the ICC Asia Pacific CEO Forum said that CEO today stood for “Consumer, Employee, Owners” and required vibrant and committed leaders to meet the needs of these stakeholders. Echoing these sentiments, Ilham Habibie, President of ICC Indonesia, highlighted the role of the CEO in a rapidly changing business world. “The CEO has to be an agent of change,” he said.

  1. Small businesses need more concrete SDG guidance

    Calling for “radical and systemic” changes from world leaders, ICC Chairman Paul Polman told forum participants that ICC was committed to making action on climate change everyone’s business as one of five new campaigns the organisation was embarking on for people and planet. “Lots of companies want to take action on SDGs but they don’t know how,” said Shinta Kamdani, President of the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development. Underscoring that 90% of Indonesia business is small business, Ms Kamdani said that in addition to examples, more concrete tools were needed to help companies take action. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber and Chair of the ICC World Chambers Federation said: “Business will support issues when they see the value. We need to make it simpler for SMEs to take action,” while panellist and social entrepreneur Sarah Dhewanto said: “Achieving the SDGs is not a zero-sum game…There is a true value proposition for business.”

Mari Pangestu, Former Minister of Trade for Indonesia and ICC Executive Board Member concluded: “It’s about changing the mindset of business.”

  1. The voice of business is crucial to reform of global rules

    Underscroring ICC’s long history of supporting the multilateral trading system and the World Trade Organization, ICC First Vice-Chair Ajay Banga, who is President and CEO of Mastercard, said that the current global landscape offered an opportunity for the business community to step up and contribute to reform. Mr Banga also said that rules emerging from WTO reform should reflect the most advanced thinking on the digital economy. “We need to make sure that the digital economy works for everyone,“ he said. “ICC can be a a critical voice in this conversation.”

  1. As an engine of change, ICC is internalising SDGs into its own operations

    In closing remarks, keynote speaker Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, highlighted the important role of ICC in helping to inform policymakers on behalf of over 45 million companies, representing one in three workers worldwide. “ICC members understand more than anyone how interconnected the world is today,” he said. ICC Secretary General John W.H Denton said: “We need to act and that is our ICC commitment. We enable the voice of business and are helping to find a pathway to solutions by bringing the skills and experience of the private sector to address these global issues.” During the forum and related ICC meetings in Jakarta, Mr Denton highlighted five thematic campaigns ICC was launching to align ICC priorities with the SDGs in the context of today’s most pressing global challenges.