Lundi 22 Avril 2019  

N°124 - Quatrième trimestre 2018

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  M./Mr Angel Gurría

The OECD: A Vector for Global Progress

By Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The global economy is constantly being transformed by a stream of new developments in technology. We are living in a world of unprecedented interdependence, a world in which most policy challenges have a global dimension and in which multilateral co-operation is essential. Globalisation links local and global, blurring the borders between national and international. It has delivered substantial benefits, but it has also created new challenges.
Climate change is testing our capacity for cooperation. Energy supply is a major issue: according to IEA projections, the world’s primary use of energy will more than double by 2050. Population ageing and international migration are other interwoven global challenges. By 2030, the number of people of working age in the EU-25 is forecast to decline from 303 million now to 280 million, while the number of pensioners grows along with life expectancy. Migration can help slow the erosion of population levels and alleviate the fiscal pressures caused by demographic transition in OECD countries. But migration is itself the expression of the ultimate systemic risk: poverty and unemployment in developing countries.
Although progress has been made, poverty is still widespread and deep-rooted: one billion people don’t have access to clean water; 2.6 billion have no sanitation services. Every year, 14 million people are killed by neglected infectious diseases; while the ILO reports that in 2007 there will be more slaves in the world than never before: nearly 12.3 million people. These are not just figures: these are shattered families, broken dreams, global shame.
In response, OECD is not sitting idly by. With nearly 50 years of history, 30 member countries and 2500 staff at its Paris-based Secretariat, OECD is re-inventing itself as a powerhouse of innovative public policy responses to the challenges of globalisation. We are broadening our global links by bringing in new members and stepping up interaction with more than 70 other countries and numerous international organisations. One of our key objectives is to assist in the integration of developing countries into the global economy, in particular by building a fast growing relationship with the leading emerging economies.
As Secretary-General of OECD since June 2006, I have set out to transform the Organisation, with the support of member countries, into a strategic “hub” for dialogue on global issues. On the one hand, OECD countries know they can no longer achieve equitable social and economic progress and resolve major challenges in the international arena without the contribution of the so-called BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other leading developing countries. On the other, these same countries cannot develop and resolve their socio-economic problems without the support of the most advanced economies. Bridging the gap is made possible by multilateral co-operation enhanced by technology and modern communications.
Earlier this year, OECD countries took a strategic political decision to engage more actively with the rest of the world. In May 2007, the OECD’s Council at Ministerial level meeting in Paris agreed on an ambitious plan to expand the Organisation’s membership by inviting Chile, Estonia, Israel, the Russian Federation and Slovenia to open accession talks. In parallel, OECD countries agreed on a strategy of “enhanced engagement” with five other major emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – with a view to possible future membership.
This “two-speed” enlargement strategy will represent the most significant wave of enlargement in our Organisation’s history. It will mean deeper OECD relations with a group of countries that represent nearly half the world’s population, with a combined GDP of 5800 billion dollars , amplifying our capacity to promote global economic growth and development. Above all, it will transform OECD from a largely “industrial countries” organisation into a truly global body drawing on widely differing traditions and cultures.
How will this ambitious project pan out in reality? Until now, OECD countries shared a common belief in the value of the market economy, and a common appreciation of sharing experiences and learning from each other. Clearly, we need to speak a common language in order to be able to cooperate. But building intellectual bridges is our “stock in trade”, and I am optimistic that we will succeed in responding to this challenge.
An opportunity to test this arose earlier this year, when the world’s most powerful economies, meeting as the G8, asked OECD to act as a platform for dialogue with the major emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. Four key themes were specified for this dialogue: innovation, freedom of investment, development in Africa and energy efficiency. We are also providing a base for the new international Partnership for Democratic Governance, under which donor countries will work with very vulnerable developing countries to assist them in strengthening basic governance structures. Over the next few months, we will be launching a process of discussion and exchange of views – but also of action – in all of these fields.
Why has OECD been chosen for these tasks? In the last 10 years, we have developed a track record of broadening and deepening our work with countries outside our membership. In 1999, the OECD’s annual Ministerial Council Meeting, which I chaired, invited representatives of major emerging economies, including China, to participate in its discussions for the first time. Today, OECD regularly interacts with more than 70 non-member countries. As many as 25 currently participate as observers or full participants in at least one OECD committee, while 50 participate in at least one Working Group. In parallel, the OECD Secretariat conducts a wide range of dialogue activities for the improvement of public policy and capacity-building in a growing number of developing countries.
Our recent Environmental Performance Review of China, our Latin American Program to Access OECD Information (which already includes 136 Latin-American institutions) and Latin American Economic Outlook, our annual African Economic Outlook (prepared in collaboration with the African Development Bank) and the Investment Compact to promote structural reform and private sector development in Eastern Europe are eloquent examples of the diversity and reach of OECD’s global engagement. Growing numbers of studies published in languages other than OECD’s two official languages, English and French, project the increasing global relevance of the Organisation. A recent Innovation Review carried out for China, the participation of Brazil in a landmark OECD pact on civil aircraft export credits and the adherence of countries like Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile and South Africa to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions are other examples of collaboration between developing countries and the OECD.
Our work with non-OECD countries enriches our Organisation’s global vocation and its sensitivity to different economic growth paths. Through a wide variety of outreach tools and programs, including our Global Forums on issues like agriculture, competition, fiscal affairs and knowledge economy, our Regional Initiatives covering all of the developing world, and our programmes designed to strengthen relations with specific non-OECD economies, OECD is building bridges of communication, economic partnership and political compromise between North and South.
Thus OECD is helping governments on all continents to find solutions to the challenges of globalisation. The only way forward in today’s interdependent and global economy is dialogue, peer learning and experience sharing.
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