13 November 2020
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) joined leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to advance governance solutions at the first ever virtual Paris Peace Forum.
Formed in 2018, the Paris Peace Forum is an annual event that gathers policymakers, including Heads of state and international organisations, to discuss new forms of collective action to address governance challenges. As an official partner of the Forum, ICC has been an active contributor since its first edition with representatives, like ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO, participating in debates on multilateralism and trade.
This year’s edition of the Forum, which took place virtually from 11-13 November, focused on collective efforts to address the human and economic consequences of COVID-19. Delegates exchanged ideas and solutions to improve the world’s response to the virus and ensure an equitable and sustainable recovery for all. During this year’s Forum, ICC called upon delegates to create inclusive economic environments for refugees, build bridges between policymakers and business leaders, and establish a new governance framework for the data economy.
Economic inclusion for refugees
Every year, the Paris Peace Forum selects a collection of projects and new initiatives that advance governance solutions in peace & security, development, environment, new technologies, inclusive economy, or culture & education.
After considering more than 850 applications, the selection committee selected the Private Sector for Refugees (PS4R) initiative – of which ICC is a core partner – as one of the 100 projects to be showcased at this year’s edition of the Paris Peace Forum. Launched in collaboration with the European Investment Bank, Danish Industri, the World Bank Group, and the United Nations Refugee Agency, the PS4R platform brings together actors from the development finance, humanitarian, and business communities to facilitate the role of business in providing practical solutions to support the economic integration of refugees.
Before the official opening of the Forum, ICC virtually convened PS4R partners to discuss how the private sector is adapting its work with respect to refugees in the context of Covid-19. Speakers, including Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mari Elka Pangestu, Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, World Bank Group, and Mr Denton, identified ways in which the
PS4R platform could be used to improve entrepreneurship, investment, and employment opportunities for both refugees and host communities.
Building bridges between government and business
The official opening ceremony of the Paris Peace Forum took place on 12 November and featured messages from several Heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. On behalf of ICC, Mr Denton delivered a message to delegates on the importance of business and government leaders working together towards a more resilient and inclusive COVID-19 recovery.
“Global cooperation needs – and breeds – trust. Trust has become an increasingly scarce commodity and been severely undermined in many countries and regions,” said Mr Denton. “We need to build trust again between governments, between governments and people, and between different social and economic actors.”
Later in the day, Mr Denton participated in a panel examining the relationship between the private sector and Public Development Banks (PDBs). The session took place as part of the Finance in Common Summit, which gathered an ambitious coalition of stakeholders to discuss the ways in which Public Development Banks can redirect financial flows towards the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of the event, regional, international, and multilateral Public Development Banks (PDP) signed the Finance In Common Summit (FICS) Joint Declaration, which calls for all PDPs to facilitate the implementation of the UN SDGs and to ensure progress toward a more sustainable world. The declaration was signed in the presence of ICC, the European Commission, Global Center on Adaptation, Green Climate Fund, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Environment Programme.
During the panel, Mr Denton said: “If there is one thing that has been made clear by the COVID-19 crisis, it is the absolute need for all of us to work together. Businesses, governments, civil society and workers have to collaborate, not only to confront the challenges of COVID-19, but also to build forward towards a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive society.” Mr Denton also urged PDBs to join ICC’s Save our SMEs campaign and contribute to the World Health Organization’s COVAX ACT-A to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 tools, like vaccines.
Following the event, Mr Denton posted a LinkedIn post reflecting his firm support for the FICS Declaration and underscoring ICC’s commitment to strengthening finance for development.
Toward a new governance framework for the data economy
Ajay Banga, ICC Chair and CEO of Mastercard, contributed to a panel on the ever-changing conditions of the digital economy and emerging regulations related to data privacy and protection. The panel, which also featured Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, discussed the importance of providing robust data protection while ensuring the free flow of data across borders.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Banga said: “Businesses work with guide rails and rules that governments lay out, so we are in favour of clear rules and level playing fields. I support government guidelines and regulations done in a way that enables innovation and participation in global economies.”
Mr Banga’s remarks reflected ICC’s position that the Internet and internet-enabled services, which rely on the free flow of data with trust across borders, are vital not just for companies of all sizes, but for the whole of society. This is especially true in the context of of the COVID-19 pandemic with various data sharing initiatives having demonstrated the potential of data to help understand, prepare for and mitigate crisis situations and its economic and human consequences.
Earlier this week, as part of the Internet Governance Forum, ICC hosted a session examining global crises and socially responsible data responses. The session, led by ICC Knowledge Manager Timea Suto, discussed opportunities and challenges for organizations sharing data for managing a global crisis, like COVID-19. Watch the full session now.