Ensuring a smoother flight
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
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