The political landscape of global governance is changing profoundly. This is posing great challenges to policy makers and organisations such as the OECD.

©Alamy

Cities around the world are taking impressive initiatives to tackle climate change and reduce inequalities, but more can be achieved by aligning these policy agendas in mutually beneficial ways. 

©OECD

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Global Forum for Ethics in Business. He visited the OECD on 19 October 2016, giving a talk on ethics and sustainability. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Shankar’s presentation below.  

©OECD

Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam Peter Georgescu visited the OECD on 3 May 2016. The author gave a talk on inequality. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Georgescu’s presentation below.  

©Rights reserved, Korean government service

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Korea’s membership in the OECD. Korea joined the OECD in 1996, following its membership to the World Trade Organization in 1995 as part of its globalisation efforts, and has thereafter risen as a full-fledged middle power, actively contributing to the international community. 

©Rights reserved/UNHCR

Over 65 million people, or one person in 113, were displaced from their homes by conflict or persecution in 2015. This troubling statistic comes from UNHCR–also known as the UN Refugee Agency–and was a higher number than at any time in the agency’s history. UNHCR signed a memorandum of understanding with the OECD in June 2016 to increase collaboration between the two organisations in addressing the problems that arise from such forced displacement, both for the people themselves and the communities that host and shelter them.

©Rights reserved

Korea joined the OECD on 12 December 1996, the first Asian country to become a member of the organisation in over 30 years. By all accounts, the country’s economic transformation has been unprecedented, from one of the poorest countries in the world half a century ago to one of its leading economies. In this OECD Observer Roundtable, we asked a range of experts who have witnessed Korea’s progress over the years:

This year, 2016, marks the 20th anniversary of Korea’s accession to the OECD. In the meantime, Korea has continued to grow, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, yielding a remarkable outcome that befits the ranks of the OECD countries. Korea has one of the most impressive economic growth performances among the OECD countries, with its economic size now almost three times greater than it was at the time of accession. As of today, Korea proudly ranks as the 8th OECD country in terms of economic size. 

Kieran Clarke in his London classroom in the 1970s ©Rights reserved

Graduate teaching courses are becoming more popular again in many countries, though ageing continues to affect the profession, and making the career more attractive for longer remains a challenge. For insight, we asked a retired teacher to explain why, despite the challenges, he stayed in the job.

©Charlotte Moreau

Sanctions need to be imposed on offshore centres to make money laundering more expensive. And, in response to shell companies investing their wealth in the London and New York property markets, French stocks and German bonds, a worldwide financial register should also be created. 

©David Rooney

I’m sure you’ve all heard about “the open Internet.” The expression builds upon a rich pedigree of the term “open” in various contexts. It gives the impression that “open” is some positive attribute, and when we use the expression of the “open Internet” it seems that we're lauding it in some way. But are we, and if so, in what way?

Few issues are of greater concern to Internet users today than privacy protection. Everyone wants the benefits of Internet access, but few want to sacrifice their privacy or face the risk of cyber theft as a consequence. 

What policy actions are you taking to harness the benefits and address the challenges of the digital economy?

©Alamy

The rapid rise of a new generation of connected, intelligent devices—collectively known as the Internet of Things, or IoT—is more than just the latest digital enabler to impact organisations of all sizes. The IoT presents vast opportunities for governments and businesses to improve internal efficiencies, serve their customers or constituents better, and enter new markets or provide new services. Such services will transform the way we work and live every day. As the IoT develops, it is essential that security-by-design be a core feature of the connected device ecosystem.

When the OECD adopted its first E-commerce Recommendation in 1999, online spending on so-called e-commerce was well-below 1% of total retail spending. Fifteen years later, the figures have jumped to almost 8% in the EU and more than 11% in the United States. This is no longer some future trend: e-commerce is here and is critical for the economy, in which household consumption accounts for about 60% of total GDP in the OECD area.

©Rights reserved

On 21-23 June Mexico hosts the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy. The first ministerial of its kind on this subject (then called “electronic commerce”) was held in Canada in 1998, and the second one in Korea in 2008; hence Mexico is the third country to have this distinction and the first Latin American country to organise and lead this undertaking. As the use of information and communications technology (ICT) is favourable for productivity across a large number of strategic industries in any economy, we have chosen "Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity” as this year’s theme, three goals that can hardly be achieved without the impetus of digital technology.

©Rights reserved

Digital science and technology are at the heart of major economic, social and–in the eyes of some–anthropological shifts. That is why we need to think about the ethics of how these tools are produced and how they are used.

©Rights reserved

Digital innovation is an opportunity—for governments, for business, for the public, and for the way in which they relate to each other.

©AARP

I first stepped onto the stage at AARP’s Ideas@50+ national member event in San Diego in September 2014 to deliver a keynote address urging the 8,000 attendees to disrupt ageing. Since then, the response has been overwhelming. It turns out that this is a message that people aged 50 and over have been waiting to hear. People across the country, from all walks of life, have been sharing their experiences with me and telling me that although they don’t want to age the same way their parents did, they aren’t sure what to do about it. They are anxious to change the conversation in our society, and in some cases, to start having the conversation. They want more choices for how to live when they get older. They want new and better solutions to help them age with independence, dignity and purpose. They are ready to chart a new course. So am I.

I wrote this book to provide a pathway for those who are 50 and over and to create a new vision for all generations for living and ageing in America. I can no more identify with my parents’ experience of ageing than my own kids can identify with mine. It’s just different. Sometimes I play this little game when I hit certain milestones in my life–like birthdays, sending my kids off to college, attending their graduations, etc–I think back and try to remember my parents as they experienced those same milestones. What was my mom like when she was 57? What were my parents doing when I graduated from college? How did they view their lives at various milestones along the way? It can be a real eye opener and really makes me realise how much things have changed from their generation to mine.

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The Paris Agreement on climate change signals the end of business as usual for energy industries. For the first time in history more than 150 developed and developing countries have promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But how binding are these agreements? And do they provide impetus for local action in Africa?

China was among the near-200 countries to adopt the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Paris Agreement) at an historic UN conference in Paris, France on 12 December 2015. As an emerging economy and one of the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases, how China implements the Paris Agreement will be important. We asked Dr Xuedu Lu of the Asian Development Bank for his views.

Mutual enrichment. The postcard reads: “Greetings from Paris where I’ve been working for the past seven years.” ©Charlotte Moreau/OECD Observer

When nearly a million Vietnamese “boat people” fled their country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and sought refuge elsewhere, they were typically seen as a burden and often turned away. Eventually, many were allowed to settle in the US. Most arrived speaking little or no English and with few assets or relevant job skills. Yet Vietnamese refugees are now more likely to be employed and have higher incomes than people born in the US.

Secretary-General Donald Johnston, and distinguished guests! 

Handewi Purwati Saliem, Director, Indonesian Center for Agriculture Socio Economic and Policy Studies (ICASEP) Handewi Purwati Saliem

Agriculture faces a challenging future. The world’s population is rising and pressures on natural resources are mounting, while environmental issues such as climate change loom large.

Thomas J Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, and Stephane Le Foll, French Minister of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry Thomas J Vilsack and Stephane Le Foll; ©Rights reserved

The 2016 OECD Agriculture Ministerial meeting on “Better Policies to Achieve a Productive, Sustainable and Resilient Global Food System”, which we are honoured to serve as co-chairs, comes at an opportune moment. 

©OECD

Canadian author, filmmaker and social activist Naomi Klein visited the OECD on 24 November 2015, giving a talk on why climate change changes everything. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Ms Klein’s presentation below. 

Cathríona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland ©Rights reserved

Ireland has bounced back from the crisis to become one of the OECD’s most dynamic economies. A key help has been the continued inflow of capital investment from abroad, allowing the country to bolster its position as a European hub for the likes of IT, finance, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and more. Ireland has been an attractive destination for global high-value investments for decades, yet its own innovation system lags that of other similar-sized OECD countries. Closing the gap would strengthen the country’s long-term outlook, but how can this be done?

©Michael Dean/OECD

Nothing has demonstrated Ireland’s shift to modern economic policies more concretely than our decision to become a founder member of the OECD in 1961. Since then the OECD has been a trusted partner in our economic and social policy evolution.

©2010 ERSI

Open any atlas, look at any globe, and Ireland appears as a small green island on Europe’s Atlantic rim. In fact, Ireland’s territory is almost the size of Germany, and mostly blue.

©AFP ImageForum

The recovery in the Irish economy is well underway. Determined policy responses to the fiscal, economic and financial sector challenges Ireland faced are now bearing fruit, with Ireland expected to be among the fastest-growing economies in the OECD this year and next. 

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  • 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 .

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