Ministerial communiqué

Highlights of the communiqué, “Towards a Sustainable Future”, issued by OECD ministers at the end of their two-day annual meeting in Paris on May 17:

OECD AND THE WORLD: Ministers endorsed the organisation’s co-operation with non-member countries and welcomed their growing interest in participating in its work. Discussions with non-member countries at the ministerial meeting contributed to strengthened confidence in the multilateral trading system and a step toward the launch of new WTO negotiations. OECD Forum 2001 was an effective multi-stakeholder dialogue providing valuable input to OECD work.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Sustainable development is an overarching goal of the OECD and member governments. OECD countries bear a special responsibility for leadership on sustainable development worldwide. OECD members will ensure that sustainable development strategies are in place in all OECD countries by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002. OECD will develop agreed indicators that measure progress in sustainable development and will report progress to ministers in 2002. Ministers recognised climate change as the most urgent global environmental challenge and asked the OECD to continue to contribute to analysis and international dialogue on these issues.

Deepened social cohesion is a central objective for sustainable development and the consequences of population ageing remain a major concern for OECD economies. Member countries must urgently address the barriers against hiring, retraining and retention of older workers, and ministers look forward to the OECD’s work on this topic. Migration is an increasingly pressing issue. Ministers look to the OECD to deepen and extend its analysis of the economic and social impacts of migration, including the international mobility of workers at different skill levels.

GROWTH, TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN CAPITAL: Ministers endorsed the main conclusions of the report The New Economy: Beyond the Hype. The work of the Growth Project is central to concerns about improving growth performance. The OECD will continue its analysis, strengthen its benchmarking and peer review of structural reform and deepen its work on the relationship between growth and sustainable development and report to ministers in 2003.

GOVERNANCE: Strengthening effective and coherent public governance remains a priority. The OECD should continue to make a vital contribution through its dialogue on public governance with non-members. Ministers asked the OECD to explore further the challenges and opportunities of e-government. Ministers support OECD work to develop principles and best practices for the regulation of private pensions. Fighting corruption remains a high priority. Monitoring implementation of the Bribery Convention and the related Recommendations must be rigorously pursued and reinforced. Ministers encouraged efforts to engage a broad range of non-OECD countries in the fight against corruption. Ministers noted the work undertaken on harmful tax practices and looked forward to the conclusions of the OECD project.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND RESPONSIBILITY: Ministers looked forward to analytical work and exchange of information among member countries in preparation for the first assessment of the OECD Corporate Governance Principles in 2005. Ministers reaffirmed commitment to the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and supported further agreed analytical work in the field of corporate responsibility.

INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT: The OECD Global Forum on Investment in November 2001 and the UN High Level Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Mexico in 2002, will benefit from OECD analytical work on foreign direct investment.

MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM: Ministers are committed to the launch of a new global round of multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO Ministerial Conference in November and will engage constructively with all countries within the WTO to this end. Ministers urged all WTO members to seek ways to address developing country requests and concerns and to build confidence as preparations for Doha proceed. Ministers welcomed OECD efforts to promote greater coherence between trade and development co-operation policies and looked forward to a progress report in 2002.

SHIPBUILDING: Ministers asked the OECD to redouble its efforts to explore solutions to bring about normal competitive conditions in shipbuilding, and encouraged shipbuilding countries outside the OECD to participate in this work.

FOOD SAFETY: In co-operation with other international organisations, the OECD will contribute to analysis and policy dialogue on wider issues of food safety.

LIFE SCIENCE AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: Ministers stressed the importance of biological diversity and of making biodiversity data available to all. They looked forward to progress in the OECD’s work on issues arising from the mapping of the human genome.

DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION: Ministers welcomed the Recommendation on Untying Aid to the Least Developed Countries and encouraged the organisation to deepen its work on policy coherence and development.

SECRETARY-GENERAL: Ministers congratulated Donald Johnston on his reappointment as Secretary-General for another five years and asked him to take forward the reform agenda to equip the OECD to respond to the policy challenges of the next decade and beyond.

©OECD Observer No 228, September 2001

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