©Ira CHAPLAIN/SINOPIX-REA

When an 8-storey building in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh crumbled in 2013, over a thousand garment workers died. For those of us who buy fast fashion, it confirmed something we suspected: that many of the people who make the clothes we wear are, at the least, badly exploited, if not treated as slave labour. They work in fire traps. They receive death threats when they try to organise a trade union. They work long hours without a break so that factories can make their deadline. 

No 25: How sustainable is wealth inequality?; Better teachers for better lives; Ageing with dementia; Changing technology, skills and jobs; Germany versus bribery

Following our “fantasy global trade” scenario posted here, let’s look at another trade hypothetical: what would happen if the US, China and Europe all raised trade costs on all goods, but not services, by 10 percentage points for all trading partners?

Given current trade tensions, this question might seem fanciful, but what would happen if tariffs were reduced, rather than raised? 

There'll be much to juggle when it's all over too: Opening Ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Moscow June 2018 ©Grigory Dukor/REUTERS

The 2018 football World Cup has kicked off in Russia, and people around the globe are by now glued to their radios, televisions, and laptops, living each save, each goal, every triumph, every loss. Excitement reigns, but at the same time, some are also turning their thoughts to the future, to 2022 and beyond. Organising and hosting an event on the scale of the World Cup is a massive undertaking, as FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, the OECD, and even the voters of the Swiss canton of Valais, know well.

No 24: Is there a case for wealth taxes?; Thailand’s ageing challenge; Universal basic income meets universal credit; West Africa’s double burden of malnutrition; Asia leads the STEM race but equity must keep pace

©Rights reserved

In a witty attempt to explain two new global institutions of his day, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes once famously observed that the World Bank should be called a fund, and the International Monetary Fund called a bank. In short, what mattered was that they both finance global economic development, and indeed both have long played an invaluable role in the ASEAN countries. But what of the OECD? What added value does this organisation bring to the prosperity of the region? 

©Pierre Boussel/AFP

“Summertime and the living is easy”–at least for the lucky ones planning a holiday right now. France drew the most tourists in OECD countries in 2016 with over 82.5 million people among les bons vivants

Operator, did you say co-Operate? ©Mack Sennett Studios

Why is it so important–and urgent–to strengthen co-operation between tax and anti-corruption authorities? 

©David Rooney

Moving beyond a petroleum-based economy is not just about choosing alternative sources of energy. It is about rethinking almost everything around us. The fleece you’re wearing, for example, is made from the same oil-based chemical as antifreeze or engine coolant. This is where green chemistry comes in. Advances in biotechnology are allowing us to manufacture fabrics, plastics, fuels and chemicals from bio-based resources using renewable resources.

©Frédéric Soreau/Photononstop

One of the most popular Netflix series in Brazil right now is The Mechanism. Loosely based on real events, the show is about an ongoing investigation of a corruption scheme involving high-ranking Brazilian politicians and companies. No wonder it’s so successful: 79% of the population in Latin American and Caribbean countries think their government is corrupt.

©Andreas Meier/Reuters

In June 2015, a small village in the Austrian Alps was buried under a massive landslide after days of intense rain. Thanks to accurate weather forecasts and early warning systems, no one was hurt in the landslide but it caused considerable damage to the local economy and people’s livelihoods. 

The annual Forum of the OECD Centre on Green Finance and Investment brings together leading actors in the green finance and investment community. This includes institutional investors, asset managers, ministries of finance and central banks, financial regulators, commercial and investment banks, international climate funds, multilateral development banks, green investment banks, corporations, civil society, philanthropic sectors and more.

Heavy seas on the way to Tangier: the topmen giving it their all ©Frégate L'Hermione

The Francosphere is the fastest growing language zone in the world, with over one billion people expected to be living in French-speaking countries by 2065, second only to countries that speak English. What are the challenges for this francophonie – and for the world?

The international system stands at a critical juncture, facing slow global economic growth, rising inequalities and challenges to the rules-based global order that has underpinned decades of peace and prosperity. Many governments are working to recalibrate their global engagement and do what they can to safeguard an open, progressive world.*

About a decade ago, three academics silently sat in on and recorded 36 hours of closed-room discussion among a group of Swedish governmental venture capitalists made up of two women and five men. The venture capitalists (VC) were going over pitches made by 125 people to obtain financing for their businesses of which 99 were men and 26 women.

“The ultimate purpose is to reduce and ideally eliminate the gender gap, so that every girl and every woman in the world can fulfil their potential.” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría discusses the challenges of gender inequality on International Women’s Day 8 March. Watch the video:

A skilled labour force can help countries integrate into the global market, but which skills are in demand and are countries able to supply them? OECD Skills Outlook provides some answers.

©OECD/Michael Dean

Many OECD countries are seeking to scale up the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They already generate around 70% of total employment. On average, they account for 50-60% of gross value added in the OECD area, and more than 80% in countries such as Italy, Greece and Korea. SMEs range from local micro-enterprises to “born global” technology leaders and firms whose raison d'être from the moment they are founded is to operate internationally. These smaller firms are essential for achieving societal goals of productivity growth and greater inclusion, but many face challenges in making the most of today’s opportunities. How can policy better help them scale up and go global? 

©Shutterstock

Some 99% of firms in the OECD are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and they generate about 70% of all jobs. But in order to stay vital and competitive in today’s global economy, SMEs need support. We ask our panel of experts for their views.

©2016 by NASA/ZUMA/REA

The Paris climate summit in November 2015 was a great diplomatic success but aviation, like shipping, was not included in the final agreement. International air transport currently represents about 1.5% of all man-made emissions, though with a projected doubling of demand for air travel over the next 10-20 years, up from approximately 3.5 billion in 2015, action had to be taken. 

©Christopher David Rothecker

Plutarch once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The educational prospects of indigenous students in Canada, New Zealand and Queensland, Australia, are getting brighter, a new study of the OECD finds. 

Click to enlarge

More women are going into postsecondary education than men: women’s enrolment rates are 11 percentage points higher on average than that of men. 

The deep recession of 2007-08 hit young people hard, but it hit foreign-born youth even harder. While 13.9% native-born 15 to 29-year-olds in OECD countries were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) in 2015, the rate for foreign-born in that demographic was 21.5%. 

"The markets have moved on, the world has moved on, coal is not coming back," said Catherine McKenna, Environment and Climate Change Minister of Canada when she launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance with the UK and 23 partner countries, states and regions at the COP23 climate conference in Bonn on 16 November 2017.

©Roy Philippe/HEMIS.FR

In September 2017, the United Nations (UN) adopted a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water. For years water had been under-valued, under-priced and too often taken for granted, so Goal 6 on water and sanitation was a momentous recognition of water’s crucial policy importance. Though just one of 17 SDGs, this goal also sits at the heart of many of them: water is essential for food security, health, cities, sustainable consumption and production, and terrestrial ecosystems. 

At the 2009 UNFCCC negotiations, developed countries committed to mobilising US$100 billion each year for climate action in developing countries by 2020. As negotiations on a new climate agreement intensified in the lead-up to COP 21 in 2015, an understanding of the progress made towards this commitment was important in keeping everyone around the table. In this context, the OECD estimated that US$62 billion had been mobilised in 2014, up by US$10 billion since 2013. Updated estimates towards the US$100 billion commitment will be needed in the lead-up to 2020, along with new information about climate finance beyond this goal. But further progress relies on robust and transparent tracking of the different streams of climate finance. 

Cultura/Janie Airey

There is enough capital out there and renewable energy technologies have become more cost-competitive, so why is investment still wanting? Policymakers hold the key.

Click to enlarge

Fossil fuel subsidies keep fuel prices artificially low, and weigh heavily on government budgets and on the climate too. Phasing out these subsidies will help reduce CO2 emissions and possibly raise public revenues as well.

©David Rooney

Blended finance is not a new concept but it certainly has returned as a new buzzword. 

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.3% Q3 2019
Consumer price inflation: 1.8 % Nov 2019 annual
Trade (G20): -0.7% exp, -0.9% imp, Q3 2019
Unemployment: 5.1% November 2019
Last update: 15 January 2020

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