Building an inclusive, resilient and responsible world

Page 3 

The clouds are lifting, but we must work harder together for the crisis to clear

“Resilient Economies and Inclusive Societies: Empowering people for jobs and growth” was the theme of the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) that we held in Paris on 6-7 May, back to back with the OECD Forum on 5-6 May. It was a very pertinent focus: given the uncertain global economic outlook, the persistent scourge of high unemployment and widening inequalities, we need to empower people with the means and opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Appropriately, Japan chaired this year’s MCM, coinciding with the celebration of its 50th anniversary of OECD membership. The country embodies like very few others the concept of resilience, having bounced back from natural tragedies and a prolonged economic downturn. We were fortunate to welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and benefit from his insights, by hearing first hand his very compelling presentation on the structural reforms that he is undertaking to revitalise his country’s economy.

Like Japan, all OECD and partner countries are determined to emerge stronger from the crisis, and create a more resilient, more inclusive future. In this regard, the core message of the MCM and Forum was loud and clear: policymakers must act now to boost the global recovery and ensure its benefits are widely shared through more inclusive growth.

During our annual gathering, ministers stressed their commitment to policies that create quality jobs, improve people’s well-being, protect the environment, restore citizens’ trust in institutions, and empower people to participate fully in society. Among other important deliverables, they adopted the Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information between countries and jurisdictions, an international standard that reinforces efforts to improve financial transparency and combat tax evasion. To promote greener growth, they adopted a Statement on Climate Change, which will help the OECD explore the policy mixes needed to achieve zero net carbon emissions during the second half of this century, and contribute to a successful UN climate change conference (COP 21) in Paris in 2015. They also invited the organisation to deepen its work on internet privacy, and adopted the OECD Recommendations on the Governance of Critical Risks, covering natural and man-made disasters.

Ministers also had an opportunity to discuss how education and skills could empower all citizens–including women, young people and the older generation–and welcomed a new report entitled All on Board: Making Inclusive Growth Happen, which explores ways of ensuring that opportunity, health and well-being are more widely shared. Furthermore, the delegates that came to Paris considered the early findings and policy recommendations of the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) and Inclusive Growth initiatives, which draw lessons from the crisis in a bid to cultivate a fresh “state-of-mind” for weighing up policy options.

These are just a few highlights from this year’s OECD ministerial meeting, whose statements and documents can be consulted at and are reflected in this edition of the OECD Observer. They show that at the heart of our actions is a determination to rebuild the motivation and trust that is so essential for progress. People feel discouraged, having lost confidence in politics, banks, the media, and even other people and countries. It is up to policy leaders to earn it back.

But they cannot do it alone. Businesses, which generate jobs, opportunities and wealth, spur global development, and influence ideas and mindsets, must also shoulder the burden. That means working in lock-step together to forge ever better rules on the likes of tax evasion, public procurement, due diligence in supply chains, corporate governance, conflict of interest, lobbying and bribery, and more. It means strengthening the rule of law and good governance, both in the public and private sectors. It means fully exploiting the OECD’s armoury of conventions and principles, its benchmarks, peer pressure reviews and “soft law” mechanisms, conveniently assembled under our CleanGovBiz umbrella.

Improving corporate conduct is also vital, as the spotlight in this edition shows. The point was recognised at the MCM and defined the key message delivered by the Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct and informal ministerial meeting, which the OECD hosted on 26-27 June: global businesses must look beyond the bottom line and “go responsible”, whether in the treatment of staff, subcontractors, clients, tax authorities, or the environment. Moreover, they must act responsibly throughout their supply chains.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is a particularly pertinent instrument in this regard, because it offers businesses a fair, robust and internationally-agreed benchmark to align themselves with, while giving the public a voice via its National Contact Points.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013, killing over a thousand workers as they finished clothing for western export, was a tragic reminder of how interconnected our markets are, and how important responsible business conduct is for people’s lives. I urge business, trade unions and civil society to join forces to ensure the guidelines work for the benefit of citizens everywhere.

The clouds of the crisis are lifting, but for the storm to clear, both the public and private sectors must work harder together–locally, nationally and globally–to build the more inclusive, resilient, happier and safer world that we all desire and deserve.

© OECD Observer No 299, Q2 2014

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019