In an unprecedented move, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has granted Observer Status to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) — the world’s largest business organisation with more than six million members across the globe. The decision, on December 13th 2016, is the first time that a business organisation has been admitted as an Observer at the UN General Assembly – here are the six reasons why I think it matters:
1) ‘Observer’ doesn’t just mean ‘observe’. The ICC will not be able to vote but it will be able to participate and make an active contribution to the issues under debate, thus building a clear linkage between the voice of business and the very highest levels of international policy making and governance.
2) The private sector has a lot to offer, and the granting of observer status is a clear acknowledgement of that knowledge and expertise. This will further strengthen the relationship between the UN and the global business community, leading to greater financial inclusion, and fostering peace and prosperity throughout the world. Over the last year the world has begun to press forward with ambitious plans to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Financial inclusion is broadly recognised within these Goals as a powerful tool to advance development progress.
3) In the shadow of this unprecedented development, it has largely gone unnoticed that the membership of the World Trade Board (WTB) has benefited from the recent recruitment of John Danilovich, Secretary General of the ICC, and a driving force behind the ICC’s recognition at the UN.
4) The presence of the ICC and the personal support of John Danilovich will no doubt prove invaluable as the WTB continues its work to carve out a unique way of bringing trade, finance and technology together to help effect positive, substantive change and to truly help improve people’s lives.Mr Danilovich is a global business leader with extensive experience in trade-related issues and will doubtless provide exceptional help and guidance in driving forward the WTB agenda.
5) The UN 2030 agenda places a strong focus on the private sector to drive sustainable development; obtaining a direct voice at the UN will help to promote policies that will foster sustainable growth and financial inclusion. These goals are entirely consistent with the mission of the World Trade Board, to improve people’s lives by connecting trade, finance and technology.
6) The WTB intends to collaborate with the ICC and others (a) to support the facilitation of SME access to finance (b) to promote alternative models for the financing of sustainable trade and (c) to increase the level of digitisation of trade. Bringing these initiatives together will not only help to make the business of trade finance more efficient but also help to mitigate risk and broaden availability.
Today we live in a collaborative world in which strategic partnerships are key to success. Working closely with organisations like the ICC will enable the WTB to grow from strength to strength in its endeavours to improve people’s lives.
David Hennah is a Board Member of the World Trade Board and Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance at Misys.