- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Name: United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
- Submission Document: Download
November 1, 2011 United States Council for International Business: Submission to UN for Rio+20
1. What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?
2. What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized globalpartnership for sustainable development, or others?
3. What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, speciﬁc MajorGroups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);
4. What speciﬁc cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?
Governments in Rio next year should :
? Promote greener growth through international cooperation that is truly ﬂexible to nationalcircumstances and priorities and engages the private sector through global markets.International cooperation should balance private and public sector measures, so that companies of all sectors and nationalities assimilate greener metrics and practices as part of their bottom lines.
? Foster cleaner and greener technological innovation and its dissemination and uptake torespond to a wide range of long-term sustainability challenges going forward, includingfood and energy security, climate change. This requires enabling conditions for greenerinvestment and innovation, including rule of law, sound science and life-cycle informeddecision making , intellectual property right protection, open markets and trade,especially for cleaner technologies.
? Enhance substantive, direct, recognized channels of input to international processes forbusiness and operated by business organizations. Rio+20 should explore ways to enhance business engagement in sustainability policy formulation and implementation,
including through public-private sector partnerships. In USCIB?s view, simple, business-owned, bottom-up approaches based on business groups and associations will complement existing informal dialogues and approaches, and bring valuable businessinsight and expertise to the elaboration and implementation of the outcomes of Rio+20.
Agree on concrete steps to liberalize trade in cleaner technologies: governments at Rioshould make concrete progress towards reducing and removing tariffs for cleaner technologies and energy sources, while maintaining ﬂexibility to adjust to evolvingscientiﬁc knowledge and innovation. Increasing trade and market access should be theobjective, so that greening economic activity is an opportunity, rather than a source oftension.
? Redouble efforts to implement existing commitments, including the MDGs, and ensureadequate reporting and veriﬁcation of progress. Until the international community can make good on previous commitments, measure and report progress towards attainment,and understand how to address gaps in implementation, we believe setting new targets inthose areas would be premature. Rio+20 outcomes should further capacity building forgovernments seeking assistance to develop and implement basic rules that, inter alia, ensure equal opportunities for all citizens and stakeholder groups to participate inrelevant governmental processes.
? Underscore strong governance and institutions at the national level as indispensablecomponents of the effective implementation of sustainability and the capability ofgovernments to carry out their commitments and actions. In that context, Rio shouldincrease transparency via building awareness of and improving access to publicly heldenvironmental information. However, such access must take into account public and statesecurity and the need to protect the integrity of decision-making processes, as well asprivacy interests of individuals. Sound information stewardship should apply, to ensurethat In addition, proprietary information, including certain regulatory data and otherconﬁdential business information, must be protected from disclosure, as shouldinformation that would undermine the competitiveness of companies .
Identify priorities for action in the main emerging issues, notably in the areas of foodsecurity and energy.
? The Rio outcomes should focus on: 1) identifying implementation gaps and the existingobstacles to national implementation of existing commitments and the MDGs; and 2)enhancing the UN system?s coordination mechanisms to ensure that adequate and well-deployed international measures and resources assist countries in achieving those goals.Doing so depends on adequate reporting and veriﬁcation of progress.
? Business supports strengthening the science-policy interface within international institutions, with the full and meaningful participation of developing countries. This must
also include channels for credible and robust science from stakeholders, particularly frombusiness and industry. Another key element relates to strengthening links between policy making and ﬁnancing, to widen and deepen the funding base for effective actions that generate an appropriate return to public and private investments. Governments must approach the challenge of the overall framework of intergovernmental institutions withmore deliberate and strategically guided resourcing, as well as more vigilant oversight.
Greening Economic Growth
The OECD has said that, ?Green growth means fostering economic growth anddevelopment, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources andenvironmental services on which our wellbeing relies. To do this, it must catalyzeinvestment and innovation, which will underpin sustained growth and give rise to neweconomic opportunities.? Rio should recognize the essential context is sustainabledevelopment and a return to economic growth. Greening the economy and growing theeconomy should be considered as mutually reinforcing and indispensable objectives.Growth will be essential to fund actions, especially as nations seek to recover fromﬁnancial challenges.
There will likely be multiple approaches to greening economic activity, and this diversity isa valuable source of solutions and resources. Because of the range of approaches andpossibilities, we question whether a single top-down ?roadmap? can stimulate the fullrange of innovation needed. Opportunities exist to improve the environmentalperformance of existing technologies and systems that are already widely deployed,including those that may not be labelled ?green.?
Realizing the full potential of greening growth will depend on international cooperation topursue economy-wide approaches, and on synergy of international regulatory frameworksand the global marketplace.
Greener growth should be pursued through:
-International and economy-wide approaches ? with ﬂexibility to national circumstancesand priorities
-Incenting and supporting innovation, investment and job creation
-Greening all jobs, and the building of capacity and training to contribute and keeppace with innovation
-Encouraging free trade, including through liberalizing trade in and removing barriersto cleaner technologies, in an integrated approach with consideration of upstreaminputs and downstream users.
-Emphasizing resource efficiency and life cycle approaches ? these are key to ?doingmore with less,? which relates to increasing productivity to answer the needs and aspirations of growing populations while managing and minimizing environmental
-Balancing public and private sector measures to pursue greening of commercialactivity
-Seguing from the necessity of public support/advocacy to ingrained/internalizedapproaches that are meaningful to and integrated in company bottom lines.
-Avoiding subsidies, and where they are used, they should be of ﬁnite duration, andwith the goal of becoming self-sustaining and without need for ongoing externalsupport.
-Incorporating information on both risks and beneﬁts in decision-making.
-Working within existing multilateral trade and environment frameworks andagreements.
-Pursuing ﬂexible policies and assessment processes that are responsive to evolvingscientiﬁc knowledge, and to experience with new technologies and policy approaches.
Improving Institutional Frameworks for Sustainable Development:
? For U.S. business, this important area has two parts:1) Improving the institutional framework for sustainable development from theperspective of business, so that it affords opportunities to work in synergy with businesscontributions to sustainable development and2) Enhancing the role of business in the institutional frameworks themselves.
? The ﬁght against bribery and other corruptive practices should be a shared top priority forgovernments, government enterprises and private companies, with a focus on the demandside of corruption. Achieving improved conditions for transparency and integrity in doingbusiness in all countries is of paramount importance for private and public sector actionsin support of implementation of Rio2012 recommendations.
Strengthening and integrating sustainable development frameworks will require globaleconomic and social institutions to become more responsive to environmental concerns,but will also require more integration of social and economic dimensions by?environmental? institutions.
? A sound and strong foundation for sustainable development in the U.N. system isessential. The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development has been the primary U.N.institution and should be the starting point for considering where and how to makeimprovements. CSD should be strengthened, and given the resources necessary to fulﬁllits mandate, and other changes in existing institutions in the UN system, as well asconsideration both of new bodies and sunsetting of less effective ones, should also be explored.
Rio2012 outcomes should take a next step in enhancing and recognizing the substantiverole of business to policy design and implementation at the international level. The business community was recognized as one of the ?major groups? by Agenda 21, agreedat UNCED in Rio, 1992. This designation represented a validation of the central role that business plays in the pursuit of sustainable development: in compliance with regulation;through the jobs, products, services and return on investment it provides, its interfacewith the consuming public, and in its corporate responsibility activities. In recent years, discussions in numerous forums have increasingly ? whether implicitly orexplicitly -touched on the role of business in myriad ways: technology, investment,implementation, job and wealth creation, competitiveness, capacity building, amongothers. Sustainability and globalization challenges cannot be addressed by governments alone;they require active collaboration between governments and stakeholders, particularlybusiness. While each of the nine major groups brings varied capabilities, networks andstructures to the process, from our standpoint, business plays a unique and critical role. For business, we underscore the need to a) distinguish those opportunities wherebusiness expertise, for example on technical or ﬁnancial matters, would be valuable toinform deliberations, analysis or implementation and b) provide substantive channels tocontribute those views directly in a timely fashion for governments. In this connection,one size does not ﬁt all. Recognizing diversity also includes diversity within the businesscommunity. Substantive, direct, recognized channels of input to international processes for businessand operated by business organizations are critical to proper policy design andimplementation. There are positive experiences and models on which to build. Business involvement in international policy deliberations predates Rio 2012, and has taken manyforms. For example, the International Labour Organization has a tri-partite structure, withemployers joining governments and trade union representatives at the table. The OECD created two consultative mechanisms to access business and trade union views and expertise through the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and its analoguefor trade unions, TUAC. These models and others could serve as templates for enhancedengagement by international policymaking forums with business post 2012.
As sole U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the OECD, USCIB presents informed businessviews and solutions to government leaders and policy makers worldwide. Through ICC, USCIB has participated inBusiness Action for Sustainable Development 2012 (BASD 2012) and wishes to associate itself with BASD2012?ssubmission.
USCIB?s work on sustainable development is predicated on our conviction that economic growth, innovation and arobust private sector are essential to achieving environmental improvement and better living conditions worldwide.USCIB was active in the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002), and has regularly attended the U.N. Commission on SustainableDevelopment and U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).
USCIB?s Environment Committee promotes appropriate environmental protection within an open trade andinvestment system; and advances continuous improvement in technological innovation and environmentalmanagement within the context of economic growth as fundamental to sustainable development. USCIB hasrecently launched the International Business Green Economy Dialogue (IBGED) project. IBGED seeks to provide aclearer understanding of the path forward to building international cooperation to green economic growth. USCIB and its partners are seeking dialogue via educational, outreach and advocacy efforts in international policydeliberations, through a series of meetings to engage the private sector and inform discussions ahead of Rio+20.The IBGED Project also includes the development of a series of peer-reviewed papers written by independent academics to provide specialized perspectives on a range of green economy areas. The ?Green Perspectives?academic papers are to be published in a special edition of Energy Economics contemporaneous with Rio+20.