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Inequalities, productivity and the digital economy are major concerns among citizens and policy makers, and these issues guided the key cross-cutting discussions at the OECD Forum on 31 May-1 June

President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría ©Julien Daniel / OECD

The 2016 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) was held at the OECD headquarters in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday 1-2 June 2016, back to back with the OECD Forum, which started on 31 May (www.oecd.org/forum).

How to jump-start slack investment to drive global growth and jobs dominated discussions at the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, chaired by the Netherlands, which ended 4 June.

Challenging free trade orthodoxy is a heavy lift in our political culture; anything that has been in place for that long takes on an air of inevitability. But, critical as these shifts are, they are not enough to lower emissions in time. To do that, we will need to confront a logic even more entrenched than free trade—the logic of indiscriminate economic growth. This idea has understandably inspired a good deal of resistance among more liberal climate watchers, who insist that the task is merely to paint our current growth-based economic model green, so it's worth examining the numbers behind the claim. 

The OECD Forum is pleased to feature a video from Richard Branson, Founder of the B Team, in light of the strong synergies between the Forum agenda “Investing in the Future: People, Planet, Prosperity” and the B Team’s mission to develop a concerted positive action plan ensuring that business becomes a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.

Anthony Gooch, Director of the OECD Forum and the Public Affairs & Communications Directorate of OECD

Wise questioning at the OECD Forum 2014 ©Julien Daniel/OECD

The great Gabriel García Márquez–our dear, recently departed Gabo, who is now surely in Macondo having a coffee with Colonel Aureliano Buendía–once wrote: “La sabiduría nos llega cuando ya no sirve para nada” (Wisdom arrives to us when it’s no longer useful). This OECD Forum is an attempt to challenge that warning. After six years of crisis, the world needs our wisdom, our inspiration, our new ideas, now. There are billions of people waiting for that new idea, and that new idea can be born here at the OECD.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría at the press conference closing the 2014 Ministerial Council Meeting, 7 May ©Herve Cortinat/OECD

2014 Ministerial Council Statement

1. On the occasion of the 2014 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, we1 have assembled under the chairmanship of Japan, on the 50th anniversary of its accession to the OECD, and the vice-chairmanship of Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

There’s a very obvious remedy for governments that wish to restore the public’s trust: become transparent, honest and inclusive. This, however, is intrinsically difficult. Any government that managed it would not be a government as we know it, but something else entirely.

Promoting inclusive growth; rebuilding trust; fostering sustainability: these were the three themes that drove discussions at the annual OECD Forum in May 2013. Since 2000 the OECD Forum has become a major stakeholder summit and is the traditional curtain raiser of OECD Week, being held in conjunction with the Ministerial Council Meeting. The public event provides an opportunity for people from all countries and backgrounds–business, labour, civil society, students and academics, as well as ministers–to debate and understand global challenges and to feed their views into the ministerial discussions. This year some 1,520 participants from 63 countries engaged with 176 speakers to discuss a range of pressing global issues, while millions more were able to participate online.

OECD Forums are a public stakeholder conference held every year at the OECD in Paris since 2000. These links are to web.archives.org

Dignity is all about people. Dignity is intrinsic–we’re all born with it. But dignity is also relational and is created among, and between people. Many of us don’t think about this, or notice it in our daily lives. But that’s only because we, our families and friends are fortunate enough to live relatively privileged lives. And because it can be difficult to establish the number of people living in difficult conditions–and their voices are less often heard.

Speech by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State and Chair of the 2011 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the OECD, 25 May 2011.

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.

Arab Innovative Teachers Forum, Morocco, April 2008 ©Rafael Marchante/REUTERS

Hana Barqawi realised her dream of opening her own children's furniture store two years ago in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Ms Barqawi is part of a wave of female entrepreneurs that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa area over the past decade or more. 

OECD Forum, 15th May, 2001– Sustainable Energy: Critical Factors in Energy Policy; moderator: Olivier Deleuze 

OECD Forum, 15th May 2001 Sustainable Energy: Fueling Sustainable Development (with IEA and NEA); moderator: Kenneth Lay

As Chairman of Koc Holding Company, Rahmi Koc knows the bottom line, and his voicing of a standard business fact was the anchor to which all parties involved in Tuesday’s discussion agreed. “The goal of business is, as it always was-making money.” As a philanthropist however, he has pursued quite a different personal agenda, and he stands firm in support of broad corporate responsibility that includes attention to workers, the environment, honesty and fair conduct, and transparency. He remains clear though, that “The right government mechanisms must be put into place, but the companies themselves must be allowed to decide their specific approaches privately, in a more pro-active approach.”

OECD Forum, 14th May, 2001: Sustainable Development Roundtable: Benefits and Risks of New Technologies; moderator Martin Cauchon 

OECD governments should do far more to “green” their public procurement practices and support sustainable development by example. This was one of the key calls made during a sustainable development round table at Tuesday’s OECD Forum 2001. The call was made by John Hontelez, secretary general of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), who welcomed the OECD’s new environmental strategy, but found some areas such as procurement wanting. Sustainable development was seen too much by OECD as being in parallel to growth and trade liberalisation, rather than as an overarching theme, Mr. Hontelez said. He challenged the OECD to an ambitious target: To stop the growth in kilometre freight transport by 2010.

OECD Forum, 14th May, 2001- The Transition to Sustainable Development: Are We Making Progress in Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Degradation? 

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Sept 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.2% Sept 2018
Last update: 13 Nov 2018

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