World leaders have just endorsed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) comprising some 169 targets. To have a chance of reaching them, we must also meet another goal: improving our data. 

Charlotte Moreau/OECD Observer

“To eradicate poverty we need to direct more development assistance and concessional loans to the poorest nations and mobilise much more private finances for development.” Official development assistance (ODA) reached an all-time high of $135.2 billion in 2014. Even so, not all developing countries rely on ODA to the same extent, and to some of them it may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to other international financial flows. However, for the least developed countries, such assistance represents over 70% of available external finance and more than one-third of their total public revenue and expenditure. This highlights the importance of the target set by the United Nations in 1970: for donors to allocate 0.7% of their gross national income as ODA.

“Like eating soup with a knife”: Peter O Toole (right) portrays TE Lawrence, with Omar Sharif, in the 1962 film, “Lawrence of Arabia” ©Kobal/The Picture Desk/AFP

Insurgency is a cause of underdevelopment in large areas of West Africa, holding back the task of achieving social and economic progress. 

As co-chairs of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, my Mexican and Malawian colleagues and I have a huge task–and a huge opportunity–ahead. A new, truly universal development agenda is taking shape and it holds out to all people on this planet the promise of a more equal and sustainable world, with less conflict and less poverty.

OECD

Since democracy was restored in 1999, Nigeria has engaged in ambitious reforms towards greater market liberalisation and economic openness. By far the most populous country of the continent–with more than 170 million people Nigeria is home to 18% of Africa’s population–it now claims to be the largest
economy in Africa, with an estimated nominal GDP of US$510 billion. Its GDP growth has never been below 5% since 2003, and since 2009, it has become the preferred destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, ahead of South Africa.

Click to enlarge. By StiK, especially for the OECD Observer.

©Issei Kato/REUTERS

The world is no longer divided between rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly educated ones.

Over the last three years, the United Nations has been working to establish a global sustainable development agenda to succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015. This important agenda, comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, is due to be adopted at the UN summit in September in New York.

What will fuel Africa’s economic growth and development? Will urban centres be the spark? Will agricultural areas drive productivity? The answer is both.

Charlotte Moreau/OECD Observer

As negotiations near conclusion on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries are honing in on what it will take to implement them. There are currently 17 goals on the table, and by the time the UN summit to launch the goals takes place in September, the much-emphasised “transformative” nature of the goals could gain traction, as could the “revitalised global partnership” called for under Goal 17.

©Charlotte Moreau

"Most of our problems are based on finances. Money is always an issue. I have to still provide for both my parents who are not working and make sure they are fed; I must pay their insurance policies because they no longer have the ability to pay them. I don’t earn enough money to afford all of that."

©Guiziou Franck/HEMIS.FR

Joacquim is a subsistence farmer from Etatara in Mozambique. At 46 years old, he is his family’s sole breadwinner, responsible for supporting his wife and three orphaned grandchildren. He lives in a traditional house, which he is unable to use as collateral, and grows maize, sorghum, cassava and beans. They consume a lot of the produce themselves, and what is not consumed is sold. Joacquim earns US$300-500 per month depending on the season and his produce.

A Better Than Cash Alliance supporter: Bill Gates ©Bernd Von Jutrczenka / DPA Picture-Alliance/AFP

Access to financing can contribute to inclusive social and economic development. How might digital transactions help? Here’s how.

©Thomas Muncke/DPA/DPA Picture Alliance/AFP

U Chit Po is 49 years old and runs a grocery store in Myanmar. He is responsible for his wife and two children. He recently had a major health scare and consequently would like to retire soon. U Chit Po has no medical coverage, as there is no licence for the health insurance market in Myanmar. His income consists of profit from his small business and interest on loans to others, which he lends at 20% interest per day. He has never saved in a formal banking institution, but his knowledge about the value and complexities of saving are highly sophisticated. He feels that banks have so much red tape, especially for provisions which he might need to access at short notice, and the interest offered by banks on savings is so little that it is not worth the hassle.

Aly Song/Reuters

Investment has been hit hard by the crisis, yet is vital for a sustainable recovery and future well-being. In 2008-14 private investment ran at some 25% below pre-crisis forecasts. From infrastructure and green energy to improving education and health care, all countries depend on investment in physical and human capital.

David Rooney/OECD Observer

Meeting budgetary targets is hard enough in any country, but for developing countries struggling to lift their economies to a higher stage of development, it can seem a near impossible task. Nevertheless, governments and local authorities everywhere in the world have a duty to provide proper public and social services for their citizens, and infrastructure that will attract investors. Tax revenues are therefore vital for meeting public demands as well as development aspirations. As a general rule of thumb, a stable and predictable budgetary framework helps foster growth and, in the longer term, reduces dependence on foreign financing, be it public or private. Taxation is a bedrock of “good government” and a driving force for wider reforms. However, devising the right framework and approach to tax is not easy, from getting the tax levels right to ensuring skills are in place to devise and implement them.

David Rooney/OECD Observer

Most people probably scratch their heads when it comes to filling out their tax returns. But whatever
challenges ordinary taxpayers face are nothing compared to what tax officials must confront, particularly when dealing with multinational firms.

©Oxfam

According to shocking new research by Oxfam, the world’s richest 1% will, on current trends, own more than half the world’s wealth by 2016.

Integrated planning, supported by clear public policies, new technologies and ways to safeguard the environment, is the path towards sustainable mobility in cities in Brazil, as elsewhere.

OECD

A warming planet and a flat world economy have propelled the issue of investment in clean energy to the top of the policy agenda. The question has become all the more crucial in view of the landmark global summit on climate change to be held in Paris in December 2015. 

International trade is a key driver of development. But high trade costs prevent a large number of developing countries from fully exploiting the opportunities that the global market offers: increased development, stronger growth and more jobs.

Li Keqiang, premier of the People’s Republic of China, is greeted by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, on a historical official visit of to the organisation, 1 July 2015. OECD

The People’s Republic of China joined the OECD Development Centre on 1 July, in a move described as an important step in support of China’s transformation and transition to a new growth model.

African Economic Outlook 2015/OECD

The financial landscape has changed considerably in Africa since 2000. Private external flows in the form of investment and remittances now drive growth in external finance, according to the African Economic Outlook 2015. Foreign investments are expected to reach US$73.5 billion in 2015, underpinned by increasing greenfield investment from China, India and South Africa.

In my first climate change lecture, nearly two years ago, my key message was that meeting the challenge of climate change required us to achieve zero net greenhouse emissions globally by the end of this century. 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales ©John Paul/Australian Women's Weekly

The international discussions under way in the course of this vital year–including July’s Finance for Development Meeting in Addis Ababa, the agreement of a new set of universal Sustainable Development Goals at the UN in September and the climate change summit in Paris at the end of 2015–represent a remarkable and unprecedented opportunity to establish what might be called a “Magna Carta for the earth” for our times.

OECD

In the coming months, the international community will gather three times and on three different continents, to build a sustainable development agenda for generations to come.

©Government of the Netherlands

The Netherlands last chaired the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in 1991, a year when advanced economies accounted for nearly two thirds of global GDP and almost two billion people were living in extreme poverty. The world looks very different today. Emerging markets now account for more than half of global GDP and the number of people living in extreme poverty is down to one billion. This Millennium Development Goal has been reached, and that is good news. There is still a formidable challenge ahead, however, in the areas of poverty reduction, sustainability and inclusivity.

“Neither economists nor market participants, nor indeed governments foresaw a financial crisis of the type and magnitude we have now. The collapse of trust and subsequent credit freeze in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse was a shock.”

©Roy Philippe/HEMIS.FR

How to improve water systems is one challenge; financing them is another. Public authorities in most countries play the main role in implementing and funding water infrastructure, but it is a model that is under increasing pressure, with government budgets stretched and banks still prudent about issuing credit. 

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