GABC & ABIE France webinar with Mr John W.H. Denton OA, the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, April 2020

The Covid 19 crisis may stop people gathering, but it hasn’t stopped ABIE from holding events. The German Australian Business Council  (GABC) and ABIE France teamed up on Tuesday, April 21, to organize a webinar with guest speaker, Mr John W.H. Denton AO, the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The theme, of course, had the coronavirus as its core :

The ICC’S Global Engagement to Mobilise Business in the Fight Against Covid-19.

Sabine Pittrof, Chair of the GABC, welcomed the participants.

“We are very excited about this webinar today. Not only because we have a very eminent Australian speaker, but also as this is our first joint event with our sister organization ABIE France!”

Co-host Bernard Tabary, President of ABIE France, echoed her sentiment.  We are delighted to have this opportunity to work together”, he said, noting that the large number of French members registered for the event, together with those from other ABIE organisations, indicating the high level of interest in the topic and the Guest Speaker.  “We are privileged to have such an impressive global business and international policy advisor as our guest”.

It was a dense and wide-ranging presentation in which John Denton called on businesses to collaborate globally in addressing the human, economic and societal impact of COVID-19.  Topics ranged through the early absence of government engagement with the private sector as a trusted partner, plunging global trade, lives versus livelihoods, climate change, the future of work practices, the future of our health services….

Describing the current crisis as “a global problem requiring a global solution”, John Denton said he reached out to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom in the early days of the crisis to see how the two organisations might work together.  The result was a first-ever agreement signed on the 16th March between the ICC and the WHO to mobilise business in the fight against Covid 19.

The joint ICC-WHO statement calls on national governments to adopt a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and underscores the urgency for Heads of State and Government to make preventing the spread of the virus a top priority.

The statement followed an ICC call for G20 countries to urgently agree on a comprehensive global action plan to address the pandemic and help restore confidence and stability in the global economy.

“The world has taken a $5 trillion hit, which is the size of the entire Japanese economy.  Global trade has been slashed by one third. Where governments are struggling, ICC must help.”

One of the ICC’s first actions was to launch a global campaign, #SaveOurSMEs, to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another move has been to launch an ICC Carbon Council in Singapore, with John emphasising that the ICC was keeping climate at the forefront of its thinking. “It is not a trade off with the health crisis,” he said.  “Had we been further advanced with the goals of sustainable development, we would be better off during this crisis.”

John also said the ICC was addressing people’s legitimate concerns about protecting their health as they emerge from confinement. To complement many national efforts to develop COVID-19 immunity certificates, ICC is preparing to launch a digital health “passport” with the world’s largest medical and travel security services provider, International SOS.  The “ICC AOKpass” will help people and businesses make decisions about whether it is possible to return to work.

In conclusion, John Denton underscored that contributing to a coordinated effort to protect lives, livelihoods and the global economy is in line with the ICC purpose to enable business to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.

With 85 participants, this very successful first joint German-French webinar proved so popular that more are being planned for the near future.

For more information:

A recording of the webinar can be accessed HERE