Ensuring a smoother flight

Secretary-General of the OECD

©OECD Observer

If Shakespeare was right, and the world is a stage, then “Gathering Storm” could be the title of the play as we enter 2008. With a US economy flirting with recession, the euro area losing stamina under a strong euro, a barrel of oil close to $100, international food and commodity prices reaching record levels and climate change intensifying, it looks like we are heading into a turbulent zone.
However, the OECD is not here to shout “fasten your seatbelts” there are many others doing that already. We are here to present scenarios, identify good practices and provide innovative solutions to assure a smoother flight and a safe landing. Reversing these negative trends will require an extraordinary degree of multilateral co-operation, and a lot of creative thinking. We can make a difference, and actually, the OECD is already making a valuable contribution.

Ancient wisdom says: be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it! Our member countries have entrusted us with many important briefs and honouring them will demand hard work, talent and co-ordination. In 2008, the OECD must carry these initiatives forward and consolidate our role as a hub of globalisation.

Looking back on our achievements of 2007 fills me with a sense of satisfaction that the organisation is adapting to a constantly changing world with remarkable agility and speed.

Take enlargement talks with Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia. The accession roadmaps have already been delivered to capitals in candidate countries, with kick-off missions already launched.

Our process of “enhanced engagement” with five of the world’s major emerging economies—Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa—has gathered momentum too, as shown by the growing participation of these countries in OECD work.

This historical “opening” is giving the OECD new weight and significance in global affairs.

Further testimonies of this vibrant, more relevant OECD are everywhere. They include the creation of the Heiligendamm Process Support Unit to facilitate G8 dialogue with major emerging global players, and the Partnership for Democratic Governance to help build capacity in new democracies and fragile states around the world. Our collaboration on development matters with other international organisations like the World Bank, the WTO, the UNDP and the regional development banks has never been stronger.

On promoting the political economy of reform, we are helping countries as diverse as Mexico, Hungary and France in setting forth the conditions needed to achieve higher sustainable growth paths. Our PISA survey of student competence has proven itself as an international reference for the improvement of educational systems, with the model now being used to assess adults too. And on health, we are drawing worldwide attention to neglected infectious diseases.

Our active participation in the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December underlined our capacity to propose innovative solutions and facilitate a better understanding of the way forward on what is set to be the most important global challenge of this century. We will continue our efforts in April at our environment ministerial meeting, and again at our main OECD ministerial council meeting in June, which will focus on the economics of climate change.

Meanwhile, the implementation of the OECD Innovation Strategy is moving ahead, to help our members enhance their economic performance in the global economy by investing in research, new  value-added products and new ways of doing business. A strong  global economy also relies on policies for supporting infrastructures,  and that includes the still evolving Internet, whose future challenges  will be addressed by member governments in an important  ministerial meeting in Korea next June.

We must further our work in many other areas too: on migration,  labour, governance, competition, trade and agriculture, etc.  However, our challenges are not just external. We are also engaged  in a process of internal reform, to strengthen the OECD’s  institutional foundations. Our staff and financial rules, including our  auditing arrangements, budget and human resource policies: all  must be reviewed to enable the organisation to move forward and  meet fresh challenges .

The start of 2008 also marks the opening of the OECD’s state-of-theart  conference centre in Paris, giving new physical expression to a  new chapter now unfolding in this institution’s history.

For the OECD is not merely a group of international officials,  economists or diplomats; we are a multicultural team that believes a  new reality is possible. As Woodrow Wilson would have it: “We are  here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater  vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. We are here to  enrich the world, and we impoverish ourselves if we forget this  errand.”

The OECD is in the business of helping to transform this world into  a better place. With hard work and talent, and the commitment of  our member countries, we can face the gathering storm and build a  brighter future for everyone.

©OECD Observer No. 264/265, December 2007-January 2008

For more on the Secretary-General, see www.oecd.org/secretarygeneral

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email Observer@OECD.org

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019