First Artek shop in Helsinki, 1936; photo provided especially to OECD Observer by Artek. ©Artek Collection, Alvar Aalto Museum

Finland has a reputation among designers, architects and artists for being a land, a nation, a culture that produces high-quality design and architecture. It tops happiness polls and educational surveys, can produce determined sports champions, and world-class high-tech products and games software, but it also has a relatively high incidence of mental illness and has been battling down its suicide rate. A land of extremes with a wide breadth of emotions, talents and expectations?

Climate change affects lives and livelihoods everywhere. We can and must act now to tackle climate change and make a better world for our children. We have the knowledge, the tools and the financial resources. Now our countries must deliver on commitments. Here are 25 climate actions to get us on track by 2025.



The OECD expects world economic growth to fall to 2.9% this year- its weakest annual rate since the financial crisis.

In today’s changing global landscape, investors are increasingly seeking exposure to sustainable strategies. Examples of these include ESG funds and green bonds.

Artificial intelligence could become very real in the world of business. But funding needs to be corrected first for medium-sized firms, where millions of jobs are at stake.

Every year, Al Gore’s 2006 film “An inconvenient truth”, resonates more loudly. Faced with the growing environmental and climate crisis, the world of finance has in recent years thrown itself headlong into integrating environment, social and governance (ESG) criteria. We have a greater need for direction than ever before.

Ultra-light graphene aerogel resting on a flower at Zhejiang University, China. ©PLANET Pix/ZUMA-REA

Ever heard of “magic-angle” graphene? This is a next generation material and newly-found superconductor that could revolutionise energy efficiency, and much more. It could help us address climate change. AI could play a key role in this. But real scientists are needed too… 

Two decades ago the OECD held its first international ministerial meeting on the digital economy. A lot has changed since then, but some old challenges persist while new ones have emerged. Food for thought as we embark on the next 20 years and prepare for the transformative effects of the digital economy.

Health care facility in Surabaya city, East Java, Indonesia. © spotters/Shutterstock

Anyone looking for proof of the valuable role social protection plays in our economies should look no further than Indonesia. After all, here’s a country of over 260 million people living on more than 6,000 islands where administrative and logistical challenges are simply routine. Even Indonesia’s presidential election, held on 17 April, was hailed as an achievement in itself.

©OECD/Andrew Wheeler

Popular unrest, street protests and calls for a return to protectionism: today’s headlines make it crystal clear that too many people feel left behind or simply left out. The economic and social crisis didn’t help, and and these divides are visible in our regions. We should have seen it coming, that by concentrating too much on national averages, the needs of too many communities would be overlooked. Our regional blindspots and insufficient place-based efforts are showing.  No wonder people’s patience has run out. But a closer look at these regional divides shows that by reinvigorating regional development policies in strategic ways, particularly in our age of digital transformation, today’s geographical disadvantages could be turned into tomorrow’s opportunities.

In 1969, Finland became an official member of the OECD. Since then, this Nordic nation has transformed into an innovative, knowledge-based society. And set an example for OECD countries, and the world, with its educational system, IT prowess, and inclusive, egalitarian outlook.

©Laurent Grandguillot/REA

The fire at Notre Dame has struck at the soul of Paris, at the spirit and memory of Christianity and of the world itself.

OECD

The digital transformation is not new, but the pace of change has quickened, with our hyperconnected societies generating huge volumes of data of all kinds.

©Serprix

At some point in just about everyone’s life, we are affected by poor mental health.­ In the EU an estimated 1 in every 6 people experience a mental health problem. In Finland, which has the highest estimated incidence of mental disorders in the EU, close to 1 in 5 are affected. Mental illness has a high economic cost–the cost of treatment, social security programmes, lower employment and lost productivity add up to a total average of 4% of GDP in EU countries. In Finland it is higher still: an estimated 5.3% of GDP in 2016.

©OECD

In 1969, when Finland became an OECD member, you were delicately balancing between the West and the East. Finland’s road to prosperity was neither obvious nor predetermined. Per capita income was almost 30% lower than in Sweden. 

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Back in the 1960s, when my dad wanted to make an international call for work, he had to order it 24 hours in advance. Today, he uses WhatsApp to make toll-free calls from anywhere, anytime, in just a couple of clicks.

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To mark Finland’s 50th anniversary as a member of the OECD, we have invited a range of representatives to answer the following question: What Finnish achievement would you most celebrate from the last 50 years, and what would you see as the main policy challenge for the next 50?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sometimes thought of as something esoteric, a shiny idea that may become real at some distant point in the future. But the reality is that although AI is developing globally at different rates, AI is already being integrated rapidly into the internal workings of governments, business, civil society, and more.

At age 15, 5% of boys in OECD countries want to work in information technology. And girls? 0.5%. With society digitalising fast and the current gender gap in science/technology/engineering/maths (STEM) widening, the future still looks to be a “man’s, man’s, man’s world”. But Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, is betting against James Brown. She urges girls to set their ambitions high and calls on policymakers to break down the policy barriers that are holding women back.

©Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/AFP

Smart communications technology has enabled people to hire themselves out as independently contracting workers in everything from taxi drives to video producers and gardeners. But what is the status of these workers, and what are the challenges of the so-called gig economy?

©Shutterstock

Climate change appears to be gathering pace, with the four years since 2015 being the hottest on record. Of course, 2015 was also the year the Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 195 countries, with the goal of holding the rise in the global average temperature to well within a maximum of 2°C above pre-industrial levels over the long term. But that goal is in peril, which means efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions must be stepped up.

Conversations on corruption: Konilo, one of Greece’s most popular vloggers (right), interviewing young Athenians on Ermou Street. ©Rights reserved

Some young people are walking down a busy street. A man with a video camera stops them and asks some questions about what they like best about their country. They say they like the food, the beach, and a few other things. Then the man asks what they don’t like about their country. The conversation soon turns to corruption. Want to get your driving licence? “Bribing’s the only way to pass the test.” Want to get your student papers without having to wait forever? “Throw in an extra €10.”

Everybody agrees that tech giants and all other businesses should pay their fair share of taxes where they create value. But is a digital tax the way to go? OECD tax chief Pascal Saint-Amans says no. The OECD has secured an agreement among 127 countries and jurisdictions to spearhead talks on changing the rules of the taxation game: shifting more taxing rights to market jurisdictions where goods and services—digital or not—are being consumed…away from the countries where multinational companies are headquartered. What’s at stake? Nothing short of changing fundamental tax rules to address the 21st century’s globalised and digitalising economy.

Who are the Gilets Jaunes and what do they want? We talk to Sophie Pedder, who is Paris bureau chief of the Economist and author of Revolution Française: Emmanuel Macron and the quest to reinvent a nation.

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Illegal wildlife trade is one of the most profitable forms of illicit trade worldwide, a multibillion-dollar international industry that has grown in sophistication, and volume. Estimates value the trade at somewhere between US$7–23 billion annually, making it a lucrative part of a wider environmental crime industry worth over US$175 billion.

Finland prepares to join: OECD Secretary-General Thorkil Kristensen (right) welcomes Tankmar Horn, Undersecretary of State, Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ©OECD Observer archive 1969

Finland marks its 50th anniversary as an OECD member country on 28 January 2019. Though not a founding member when the OECD commenced in September 1961, Finland’s interest in joining was never in doubt. However, it adopted a cautious approach.

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“Workin' 9 to 5; What a way to make a living”, Dolly Parton sang in her classic hit. The year was 1980, and Parton’s character in the eponymous film, 9 to 5, already pioneered numerous policies of the new world of work to come, such as flexible work hours and a job-sharing programme. Some of these changes have since become widespread in certain countries and industries. And they affect social protection policies, too, as the OECD report The Future of Social Protection: What Works for Non-standard Workers? shows.

In the early 1600s in North America, colonists ruined by a bad crop would often move on to new territory. In order to save on costs, they would burn down their homes to collect the nails, which would be used to build their next house. The image is one of restlessness and ingenuity, and mobility, contributing to a myth that many people there still cherish.

While the evidence shows that global integration has pushed down inflation, a stalling in globalisation could cause that trend to slip into reverse. Here is why.

©Suvra Kanti Das/ZUMA/REA

Supply chain management is a tough challenge for global companies. A new OECD guidance can help them get it right.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.5% Q2 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 1.6% September 2019 annual
Trade: -1.9% exp, -0.9% imp, Q2 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% September 2019
Last update: 18 November 2019

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