Why governance and investment matter for development

Secretary-General of the OECD

The world is going through hard times. Though there are some signs of an economic recovery, global confidence remains fragile. From the economic and social crisis to climate change, natural disasters and conflict, rarely in modern history have we faced such a testing period.

The crisis has taught us many lessons, about our policies, our practices and our ways of life. But if there is one lesson that stands out, it is the importance of international co-operation to help us overcome the challenges we face.

Even before the crisis struck, the MENA region faced difficulties, but with growth and investment reeling from the global downturn, the situation has become urgent: millions of new jobs will be needed for the MENA region's expanding population over the next decade. With annual growth rates that averaged 6% in previous years set to fall to closer to 2-3% this year and foreign direct investment inflows into parts of the region plunging by an estimated 30%, governments need to work hard to attract investment by domestic, regional and international companies.

One underlying cause of the challenges MENA countries face can be traced to administrative and governance processes, which must be addressed to release economic potential, alongside action on education and business development. But though a crisis is a good time to reform, it can also fuel resistance to change. The MENA-OECD Initiative on Good Governance and Investment for Development aims to help support reform-minded governments by sharing best practices from the region and beyond.

The paradigm is simple: ensuring stronger and better governance and a supportive business environment that includes robust education and infrastructure will bring more investment and improve the development prospects for the region as a whole.

However, translating the paradigm into reality is not easy, which is where the OECD can help. We have a rich trove of experience to share in all the key areas for action, from public and corporate governance, through human resource skills and women's issues, to capital investment, tax administration and policies for small and medium-sized enterprises. We are honoured to put this knowledge at the disposal of the MENA countries. Our focus has been on improving governance and strengthening investment policies, as these are prerequisites to unleashing the MENA region's considerable development potential. A results-oriented programme, the MENA-OECD initiative helps to share knowhow on best practices and lessons from past reforms. We mobilise trusted OECD tools, such as peer review and civil society dialogue, and promote innovative solutions for specific circumstances. Our collaborative work is starting to show results. Take corruption, which has affected investment in the MENA region at some cost to development. Thanks to the involvement of the OECD, among others, now several countries have begun cleaning up their public procurement practices and are creating legal structures to combat bribery of public officials.

Under the Good Governance for Development initiative, MENA and the OECD are working together to help strengthen civil service performance and public service delivery in the region, and to improve such areas as e-government, public-private partnerships, legal enforcement and civil society relations. The fruit of this effort is reflected in the spread of information and communication technologies within administrations, for instance, and in more effective personnel policies, including empowering women in the civil service.

Meanwhile, the Investment Programme is helping to spur progress in areas such as investment rules, tax policies, small and medium-sized business support, corporate governance, sector diversification, trade, skills and responsible business conduct. Some of this work focuses on technical issues, such as providing drafting support for corporate governance codes and training officials on double taxation treaties. The programme has also developed regional guidelines for free economic zones, and has adapted the OECD Principles for Private Sector Participation in Infrastructure to the MENA region. And together with the governance initiative, the Investment Programme provides a forum to enhance contact between policymakers and other stakeholders.

Governance and investment policies will lead the agenda at the MENA-OECD ministerial conference at Marrakech, Morocco on 23 November, which will be held under the high patronage of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI and hosted by Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi. The ministerial meeting will be preceded on 22 November by two important fora on governance and business, as well as a summit of women business leaders.

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa have been at the economic and technological forefront of civilisation throughout much of history. Today, they are at a crossroads in their development. With strong co-operation combined with the right policies and determined approaches, the MENA region has every prospect of playing an increasingly leading role in helping to forge a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy for all.


© OECD Observer, No. 275, November 2009

Economic data


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

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • 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.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • 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 .

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming

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 2016