This year London’s population overtook its historical high of 8.6 million reached at the outset of the Second World War, bucking the trend of many European and North American cities, which have experienced only slight, or even negative, growth. Compared to other global cities, London is inching forward, with only nine new residents per hour, compared to double that number in São Paulo and over 70 in Delhi, Kinshasa and Dhaka. Nonetheless, London will accommodate a million more people by 2030.

©Ivan Alvarado/REUTERS

The world cannot resolve today’s development challenges with purely national approaches. We need to complement them with local approaches, too. We live in an era of enormous transformations, in which our traditional political structures and forms of democratic participation must adapt. That means casting a bigger focus than ever on the important role of local power and communities. Local territories and cities are essential players in the pursuit of a just and sustainable development, and their voices must be given more sway in international forums.

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Case studies of specific products, particularly in the electronics industry, show that value creation along a global value chain tends to be unevenly distributed among activities. The highest value creation is found in upstream activities, such as the development of a new concept, research and development (R&D) and the manufacturing of key components. But it is also found in downstream activities, such as marketing, branding and customer service.

©Christian Charisius/Reuters

The world economy has become more complex, with global value chains and myriad interconnections among producers across continents. This has an impact on trade and investment policy, as well as on development, and exposes the shortcomings of the usual way of measuring trade.

The cost of mistrust

Trust is at the heart of today’s complex global economy. But, paradoxically, trust is also in increasingly short supply in many of our societies, especially in our attitudes towards big business, parliaments and governments. This decline threatens our capacity to tackle some of today’s key challenges.

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©Norwegian government

Ultimately the economic crisis is about people, says Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs. That is why respecting human rights and adherence to democratic principles are fundamental when addressing the current economic crisis. We are in this together, so we need multilateral solutions more than ever.

©REUTERS/Amr Dalsh

The media is changing, but must assume a leading role in the unfolding narrative of the information world. That includes building trust and involving new voices in the discussion.

The future will be inherently knowledge-based. Are we moving in the right direction? What must we know to be able to get there? Understanding knowledge-based capital is an important first step.

In a globalised world, social unrest occurring far away can have transnational ramifications, with effects nearer to home. This has been evident in recent years with movements such as Occupy and Indignados, and the Arab Spring. Unrest could also be the consequence of a terrorist attack, but even the threat of one can lead to widespread panic. The upshot can be disorder and economic turmoil.

The Internet is much more than a multi-billion dollar industry. The world’s economy now depends on this global “cloud”, which was once little more than a means of connecting different computers over a phone network. Today, the digital age has vast new potential to serve as a force of progress in the global economy, but better, smarter public policies will be needed for that potential to become reality.

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More students are looking beyond their borders to give their education a competitive edge. 

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The fallout from uncertainty that continues to undermine the global economy is reflected in international investment, which is falling once again, following two years of steady gains.

©AFP/Eric Piermont

World trade is changing, and so too must the way policymakers approach it, says Pascal Lamy. We asked him to explain. 

Globalisation has always been a process of far-reaching and often unexpected change, as well as geographical shifts in power, and this is reflected in the rise and fall of great cities. What lessons can we draw for the future?

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Higher education is growing rapidly, and becoming a veritable global sector in its own right. That means challenges for educators, students and policy makers. 

©Mark Armstrong

In October 2011, a high-level panel headed by the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, delivered a ground-breaking report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, arguing that everyone around the globe should receive a living income, guaranteed through transfers in cash or in kind, such as pensions for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child benefits, income support benefits and/or employment guarantees, and services for the unemployed and working poor. Martin Hirsch, a member of that panel, explains why this proposal for a more socially responsible globalisation can work. 

The worst economic crisis in half a century still holds us in its grip. In fact, with a bleak short-term outlook, global public opinion could be forgiven for questioning the ability of political leaders and policymakers to find a way out.

Despite two decades of outsourcing and globalisation, the US remains the world’s largest manufacturer in 2009. However, its share of world value-added in manufacturing declined from around 22.7% of the total in 1990 to less than 20% in 2009. China’s share rose from a minute 2.7% to 17.5% over the same period, taking over Japan, hitherto the world’s second largest manufacture, whose share dropped from 17.7% to 11.4% over the two decades.

OECD economies are in the doldrums, but the trend in global mergers and acquisitions has rarely been more buoyant. International M&A investment in 2011 reached $822 billion as at 21 October. If this pace can be sustained, international M&A will top $100 billion by the end of the year, a 32% increase over 2010 (see chart).

There are signs of a new, more confident and self-affirming Africa taking shape. As the 2011 edition of the African Economic Outlook argues, this newness is also evident in the continent’s relationships with emerging economies.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have just been updated. What are the main changes and how might they affect international corporate behaviour?

Uncertainty about the future, eagerness to devise new ways of managing our economies, and to contribute to the debate on how to make better policies for better lives: these were just some of the discernable public moods at the OECD Forum, held on 24-25 May.

In 2008, the Chinese economist Justin Yifu Lin became the first person from a developing country to be appointed World Bank Chief Economist.

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The number of people travelling abroad to seek medical treatment appears to have been growing in recent years. This could be part of a growing global trend.

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On 27 May 1882, The Times newspaper proclaimed, "Today we have to record such a triumph over physical difficulties, as would have been incredible, even unimaginable, a very few years ago". They weren't talking about Queen Victoria avoiding a recent assassination attempt by a poet she'd annoyed or Jesse James having less luck with a friend he'd trusted. They were talking about sheep meat.

OECD faces a huge challenge of image. You insist that the organisation, known for its in-depth analyses and reliable statistics, aims to represent all relevant economies. Emerging countries, however, cultivate the impression that the OECD, despite its co-operation and development efforts well beyond its membership, is still the voice of "rich nations" only.

Fisheries may be an ancient economic activity, but nowadays they are at the forefront of globalisation. First, there is the trade itself: a blue hake caught off the coast of New Zealand by a Japanese vessel may be processed in China before being flown to a market in London or Paris.

Alex King, a much-admired director of the OECD, passed away on 28 February 2007. He was 98. Now that the OECD has gone “global”, it is worth remembering that Alex King was also the founder, in cooperation with Aurelio Peccei, of the Club of Rome, which first put the spotlight on the crisis of globalisation (notably in a report published in 1972 entitled The Limits to Growth*).

Globalisation has highlighted the need to take a closer look at challenges, from reducing pollution to tightening disease control, whose consequences are shared across the world. But if we are to make best use of such global public goods, we need to understand how they work and how to measure them.

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