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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.

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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.

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We all come from different corners of the world, from different backgrounds, times and professions. We carry different cultures and stories, different concerns and life expectations, different hopes and fears.

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[…] The French Senate and the French nation, in all their political bodies, are proud to host the OECD in Paris. The presence of a multilateral organisation as eminent as yours is an asset for Paris and for France, as well as a showcase for the French language, which is an official working language of your organisation. […]

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More than seven years after the revolution that toppled President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is still beset with numerous tensions. These bubbled to the surface in January 2018 with protests against unpopular tax measures and corruption. As in 2001, Tunisia’s young people embody the revolt and fight against corruption that has become endemic in the country. Their angry slogans express the disappointed hopes of a nation that rose up against a dictator and his abusive regime.

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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.

The celebrated marine scientist Jacques Cousteau once said that “All life is part of a complex relationship in which each is dependent upon the others, taking from, giving to and living with all the rest.” This is especially true of water. Freshwater management, oceans and marine ecosystems are intimately linked to almost every other environmental and humanitarian issue.

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When the First World War ended a hundred years ago in November 1918, more than a generation would pass before the world order regained some stability. Immediately after the war, there was a short boom followed by a stock market crash in 1929, a worldwide Great Recession, a resurgence of nationalism and then the outbreak of another, even more deadly, conflict. 

Most people probably believe they make decisions with integrity. Yet behavioural evidence reveals otherwise. Often, we’re not even aware when we are deviating from ethical standards, simply because justifications and biased judgments affect our perception of what constitutes a breach of integrity. 

Relaxed learning environment at Helsinki University Library. ©Shutterstock

Finland has consistently been one of the most successful countries in global education rankings. For some, its name has become synonymous with educational excellence. While Finland is not alone in achieving world-class educational standards, what makes the country unique is that all of its schools are, effectively, elite schools: performance differences between Finnish schools account for just 5% of the total variation in student performance.

Migration is nothing new. People have moved across communities, states and continents for millennia. In 2017, about 258 million people worldwide were living outside their country of birth, nearly half in OECD countries. The International Migration Outlook 2018 looks at who these migrants are and maps what is driving their flow into OECD countries, where an estimated 5 million new migrants settled permanently in 2017, representing a 5% drop from 2016 levels.  

Advancing deforestation in the Amazon Basin ©Rickey Rogers/Reuters

We are eating our way through tropical forests. Whether it’s a cappuccino for breakfast, a burger for lunch or a chocolate bar as an after-dinner treat, the things we consume in OECD countries are often linked to deforestation in the tropics, where trees are falling at alarming rates.

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

Rina Matsumoto, Student Sakura team leader from Fukushima, plants a cherry tree at the OECD headquarters on the occasion of the Tohoku Cherry Blossom Ceremony, 2 September 2014. For more photographs of the occasion, please click here. ©OECD/Hervé Cortinat

In the garden of the OECD headquarters in Paris, a cherry tree was planted in the autumn of 2014 by a group of Japanese high school students, who had suffered the earthquake in Fukushima in March 2011. 

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“Money makes the world go round.” So goes the line in the musical, Cabaret. But probably not even lyricist Fred Ebb, who wrote those famous words, knew how true it is that we need money to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to keep the world, or rather, the planet, going round and round. 

©Suvra Kanti Das/ZUMA-REA

On 24 April 2013, the world woke up to the reality of garment factory conditions in Bangladesh when more than a thousand workers were killed and over two thousand injured after the Rana Plaza garment factory complex, supplying western brands, collapsed. 

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Our world seems to be at a crossroads, and with it, the multilateralism that has been the bedrock of international co-operation since the Second World War. Where do we stand? How do we move forward? The latest international discussions provide some answers.

Since Mexico embarked on reform of its telecommunication and broadcast market in 2013, the results can be roundly summarised in a single phrase: price drop, revenue up. With the exception of the price index for pay TV, which has gone up 5%, the cost of roaming, and domestic and international phone calls has dropped steeply, with Mexicans now enjoying some of the lowest-cost mobile services in the OECD area. 

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? 

OECD

We live in challenging times for international co-operation. Against a background in which the voices of protectionism and nationalism seem to be gaining strength, at the OECD we are standing firm in our support for openness and collaboration as the surest means of building better policies for better lives. Otherwise we risk undoing many of the achievements we have accomplished together as an international community since the OECD was formed 55 years ago. Of course, there is much to fix in a system that for many people is not delivering and whose benefits need to be more equally shared. But the reality is that in a divided world, we all lose.

Not so private: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg in the public lens before a US Senate hearing in April 2018. ©Leah Millis/Reuters

“We care about your data privacy and security. With this in mind, we’re updating our privacy policy by 25 May 2018 in compliance with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Click to learn more.”

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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? 

©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. 

Goethe said, “He who lives must be prepared for changes.” The fourth industrial revolution will certainly bring about significant changes that we will have to be prepared for. Japanese estimates suggest that the use of big data and analytics in some divisions of Japanese manufacturers could lower maintenance costs by almost JP¥5 trillion (€41 billion). Other estimates suggest that new technologies could boost value-added in Germany’s mechanical, electrical and automotive sectors, among others, by an additional €78 billion by 2025. 

©Karim Trabelsi/AFP

While overall poverty is relatively low in France, it can be highly concentrated at the neighbourhood level. In some cases, 40% of households in such neighbourhoods are below the relative poverty line. Unemployment is high, children struggle in school, housing and urban infrastructure is run down, and there is a lack of local employers, public and private services, and amenities. The French government deploys special education, employment, business and safety measures in these areas. 

©Hervé Cortinat/OECD

After a bout of serious flooding of the River Seine, the Paris region has been treated to some heavy snowfalls, as shown in our picture of the Château de la Muette, the OECD headquarters.

A tweet alone might go unnoticed, but a swarm of them can make quite a buzz. Take the examples of movements such as Black Lives Matter, or online petitions like the one in favour of women on banknotes in the UK, or demonstrations in the Middle East and elsewhere organised on social media. Collective action made up of individuals microdonating effort, time and money on social media to political and social causes is characteristic of our turbulent times. Political Turbulence shows how social media activism works, who is involved and what consequences it might have. 

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Did you know that each of the OECD’s 35 member countries is represented by a mission with full diplomatic status? The size of these OECD delegations varies by country size, but each one has a permanent representative at ambassadorial level, including this author. Together we make up the OECD Council that oversees the work programme set by member countries for the organisation. But our role goes beyond mere representation.  

©David Rooney

A systems approach can be applied to more complex administrative challenges, from transport and tourism to the environment.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.5% Q3 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.4% Dec 2018 annual
Trade: +0.3% exp, +0.7% imp, Q2 2018
Unemployment: 5.2% Dec 2018
Last update: 13 Feb 2019

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  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Watch the webcast of the final press conference of the OECD annual ministerial meeting 2018.
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
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  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

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