7 ways ICC represented business at the United Nations General Assembly

  • 1 October 2019

The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) high-level week took place from 23-27 September in New York, setting the global agenda on an array of global issues, from peace and security to sustainability and finance. Led by ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO and ICC Chair Paul Polman, ICC was actively involved in a number of high-level meetings on financing, health coverage and small island developing states as the institutional representative of 45 million companies in over 100 countries.

Our message throughout the week was clear: The imperative of sustainable development calls for greater ambition by world leaders and an alignment of policy frameworks to scale up solutions and enable businesses to place the SDGs at the core of their operations.

With so many events in a packed week of activity, we’re wrapping up 7 UNGA highlights:

1. Inaugural ICC/UNICEF intergenerational dialogue

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO recently became a member Board of Generation Unlimited (GenU) – a major global initiative to empower young people worldwide through education, skills training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities – and on 21 September, ICC convened its first Intergenerational Dialogue with UNICEF, bringing together business and young leaders for a frank discussion on the business response to climate change.

ICC/ @UNICEF intergenerational dialogue on #climatechange hears from youth leaders and CEOs that businesses must shift business models away from short-term profits to seeing the benefit of “paying it forward” to the next generation. How can we address the transition together? pic.twitter.com/502zAJWI1j

— ICC WBO (@iccwbo) September 21, 2019

2. Calls to raise ambition for bold climate action

The industry transition coalition presented major new ideas and initiatives from leading companies and associations worldwide. As part of this event, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO announced that over 2,100 chambers – representing millions of businesses – had signed up to the Chambers Climate Coalition to support bold climate action aligned with 1.5 degrees and net-zero by 2050.

Mr Denton attended the United Nations Climate Action Summit which saw close to 90 multinational companies, including several ICC members commit to set climate targets across their operations and value chains to align their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

The business message to government is clear. Raise ambition to address the #ClimateCrisis. #ClimateActionSummit pic.twitter.com/kraN2PkzxB

— ICC WBO (@iccwbo) September 23, 2019

3. Engagements with leaders from business and government

Between main events, UNGA week presented an opportunity for ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO to meet with prominent representatives of business and government. Highlighting the ways in which ICC is mobilising business and leveraging new technology and partnerships for people and planet, these included meetings with the President of Colombia Ivan Duque, Patricia Scotland QC Secretary General of the Commonwealth and Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of global biotechnology company Novozymes.

Discussions with Colombian President @IvanDuque on the sidelines of the #ClimateActionSummit today at @UN headquarters in New York. https://t.co/ZClh04j1aB

— ICC WBO (@iccwbo) September 23, 2019

4. SDG Business Forum for a sustainable world

Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), and the United Nations Global Compact, the fourth annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Business Forum took place on Wednesday 25 September convening business, government, civil society and the United Nations to discuss concrete solutions to move from commitments to action to deliver on the Global Goals.

Close to 600 stakeholders took part in the forum which saw discussions on sustainable financing, the future of business and scaling ambition for a sustainable world.

An SDG Solutions Breakfast held ahead of the Forum featured the technological innovations of 10 corporations, including the pioneering work of Kaneka Biopolymers and DASANI in limiting and redesigning packaging materials in the consumer goods industry.

The cost of inaction is rapidly becoming significantly higher than the cost of action, says @PaulPolman in passionate concluding remarks to the #SDGBizForum, calling on the business leaders in the audience to live a life with purpose. #UNGA pic.twitter.com/fsTyPhvJoX

— UN Sustainable Development (@SustDev) September 25, 2019

5. Putting correspondent banking back on the global agenda

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level dialogue on financing for development (FfD), ICC convened a high-level dialogue on de-risking and correspondent banking, with the aim of bringing de-risking to the fore on the global agenda.

The dialogue brought together representatives and heads of state from Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, and Samoa and highlighted the unintended but broad and severe impacts of de-risking that pose an existential threat to small island states in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and developing countries within Africa and Latin America.

Hosted by ICC for discussions on derisking, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda says decline of #correspondent banking could plunge his and other countries into « abject poverty » and could be more harmful than #climatechange #SDGs #UNGA pic.twitter.com/IYoeSjcwkV

— ICC WBO (@iccwbo) September 26, 2019

6. Support for SDG acceleration

ICC and several member companies were among a number of leading companies and organisations who endorsed key findings of a new report published by the High-Level Commission on Carbon Pricing and Competitiveness. The report finds that concerns about industrial competitiveness can be addressed through strong carbon pricing policies.

ICC also co-hosted an event to launch Digital with Purpose: Delivering a SMARTer2030, a new report identifying and quantifying how digital technologies can help governments, businesses, and philanthropic organizations accelerate their efforts to achieve each of the 17 SDGs.

7. Contributing to trade and climate advancement

Following the launch of an ICC commissioned report on Climate Change and trade agreements, ICC hosted the first in a series of trade and climate consultations on 26 September, examining the nexus between trade and climate change policy. Bringing together business leaders, policymakers, academics, economists and thought leaders, the consultations will contribute to an ICC issues brief considering a range of solutions to effectively align and integrate trade and climate change policy, with a view to advancing both Paris Agreement goals and international trade.