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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.

©Alamy.com

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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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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“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. 

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. 

Africa is projected to have the fastest urban growth rate in the world–by 2050, Africa’s cities will be home to an additional 950 million people. 

©AFP/New Science Photo Library

For proof that the tech industry is not particularly welcoming to women, one need look no further than Google, where women account for just 31% of headcount, falling to a mere 20% in pure tech roles. They are also paid less than their male counterparts, according to a class action lawsuit filed in 2017 by three former employees on behalf of “all women employed by Google in California” for discrimination and unequal pay for equal work. Which did nothing to stop another former employee, who had been laid off after circulating a sexist memo, lodging his own complaint against the Internet giant for “ostracising” conservative white men.

Nicolas Anelka, French footballer from Trappes ©Glyn Kirk/AFP

Some 25 kilometres from Paris lies Trappes, a town from which more people have left to fight in Syria than anywhere else in Europe. How did a town which has produced numerous French celebrities such as footballer Nicolas Anelka, comedian Jamel Debbouze, actor Omar Sy, and TV and radio presenter Sophia Aram, end up with this sad claim to fame?

As part of an OECD Obsever Roundtable we invited a range of representatives, speakers of the OECD Conference on Culture and Local Development (Venice, Italy, 6-7 December 2018), to answer the following question: What government policies would you encourage most to ensure that cultural initiatives can promote economic development, social inclusion and well-being in our cities and regions?

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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. 

What policy initiatives would you prioritise to promote regional integration in Africa and what international co-operation initiatives would you encourage most?

Engineers prepare to launch a medical drone, Rwanda 2018 ©Kristin Palitza/DPA/AFP

Accelerating the knowledge-led development of Africa through science driven policy and investments is important for boosting long-term growth and well-being.

A street destroyed by the earthquake in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 3 February 2010. ©Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Last year, actor Sean Penn called on world leaders to help Haiti deal with the "looming existential threat" of climate change. 

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.

One country that symbolised the crisis of the last 10 years was Greece. Its insolvency embarked the country on a long regime of bail-outs and austerity. This August, Greece officially emerged from the crisis, with the OECD forecasting GDP growth again. So, did the austerity work? The former Greek finance minister and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM) remains unconvinced. Mr Varoufakis was a guest at the OECD’s “10 years after the crisis” conference.

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In her Oscar-winning performance as the main character of the 2014 film Still Alice, actress Julianne Moore played a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease, a rare form of dementia. It was a reminder of the struggle that is affecting the everyday life of a growing number of people worldwide.

“All human beings are born equal. But on the following day, they no longer are,” said French author Jean Renard in 1907. This is because sticky floors and ceilings–or rags to rags and riches to riches–define the bottom and top income distributions. Today, it takes four to five generations, on average, for children from the poorest 10% of the population to reach median income levels. Meanwhile, about 50% of children of wealthy parents will themselves remain rich in countries like Germany and the US.

These covers of the OECD Observer magazine, which followed the crisis as it unfolded, capture the story over 10 years, including the damage it wreaked on people and the exploration of new models, promising better policies for better lives. They offer a handy snapshot to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Lehman Bros on 15 September 2008 and the onslaught of what has been widely described as the worst crisis of our lifetimes. 

President Keïta at the OECD in 2015 ©Herve Cortinat/OECD

“I want to reconcile hearts and minds…so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony.” So said Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on being elected president of Mali in 2013, against a backdrop of violence and crisis. Now, five years later, with instability still an issue, can the recently re-elected President Keïta bring about the changes needed for a lasting peace?

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“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them,” said James Baldwin. Indeed, young children pick up most of their social and educational cues from their adult caretakers, as a recent–and unprecedented–OECD meta-analysis of 44 early childcare studies found. Collectively, these studies confirm that the quality of interactions between care staff and children is the key driver of children’s development in early childcare programmes.

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Korea has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. Of developed economies, it also spends among the least money on employment insurance programs. On the outset, this makes a lot of sense. If you don’t have unemployment, why shell out on extensive unemployment benefit programmes?

Wherever in the world they are emitted, greenhouse gases have a global impact. Narrow national agendas are inadequate to deal with global climate change disruption. Without vision and resolve, more countries may yet retreat further into their national bunkers. We would all suffer in such a bleak scenario.

A worker in a state-of-the art factory, in Slany, Czech Republic, March 2018. ©Milan Bures/The New York Times-REDUX-REA

Roughly 14% of jobs in OECD countries are highly automatable, while another 32% will be transformed by automation. By 2019, it is estimated that 1.4 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world. How can local firms and their workers adapt to this? How can policy help?  As policymakers and experts gather to discuss such issues at the 14th OECD Forum for Local Development Practitioners, Entrepreneurs, and Social Innovators in Porto, Portugal 18-19 September, we ask our panel:

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“Intelligent machines will help build a better future if we guide the development to favour the consumers, the citizen, and freedoms–human well-being and human health. The OECD has a role to play in helping people overcome fears and find smarter ways for humans and machines to work together”, Garry Kasparov says. Watch the video:

Last stand: this photograph became an icon of the crisis, and shows bankers attending an emergency meeting at the London office of Lehman Brothers as the firm slid towards collapse, 11 September 2008 ©Gwion Moore/Reuters

Have we learned the lessons of the 2008 crisis? Could a new bubble form and burst? This chapter from Donald Johnston’s 2017 book, Missing the Tide: Global Governments in Retreat, provides food for thought.

Economic data

GDP growth: -1.8% Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Consumer price inflation: 0.9% Apr 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -4.3% exp, -3.9% imp, Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Unemployment: 8.4% Apr 2020
Last update: 9 July 2020

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