Message in a bottle: Producers not taxpayers should pay for the waste they generate
Have you ever wondered who was paying to recycle that plastic bottle you just threw away? Until recently, it would have been collected and – to the extent possible – recycled by municipalities with the use of public money. But this is changing and today most used bottles are managed directly by their manufacturers.
This evolution came with the introduction of the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Read more
Aiming high: the values-driven economic potential of a successful TTIP deal
A year ago, Presidents Barroso and Obama launched negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. We have now held five formal negotiating rounds, and it’s time to re-state the importance of this deal not only to us in Europe and the US, but for people around the world. The overall figures are impressive. The EU and the US trade goods and services worth around EUR 2bn every day, and together we make up one third of global trade. Independent assessment indicates that both sides could gain significantly in terms of GDP growth over ten years (EUR 120bn in the EU, EUR 90bn in the US) – and equally so does the rest of the world (EUR 100bn).
Aid only for the neediest? Official development assistance after 2015
According to the most recent OECD aid statistics, in 2013 official development assistance (ODA) reached a record high of USD 134.8 billion, representing a rise of 6.1% compared to 2012. While this is good news, more detailed analysis shows worrying trends. The growth was largely (about 33%) in non-grant ODA – mostly loans – which tends to go to middle-income countries. On the other hand, grants, which typically flow to less developed countries, lagged behind, increasing by only 3.5% (excluding debt forgiveness). What’s more, bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by 4% in real terms. So while ODA is on the rise in overall terms, the countries with the greatest need are being left behind.
Does happiness score goals? The Better Life Index meets the World Cup
Do happy countries make great football teams? With the World Cup in full swing, we have already seen some great wins and some devastating losses. But do the performances of the players and the team reflect the situation back home? The favourites, Brazil, definitely seem like a cheerful bunch with their colourful banners and clothes, their samba dancing, and their extravagant style of football. But looking at how they score in the 11 Better Life dimensions may give a different picture. Compared with other countries, Brazil performs well in only a few dimensions. A fact that has sparked great controversy, as 11 billion dollars were spent on the World Cup preparations, money that some argue could have gone into raising Brazil’s well-being ranking. And what about the skilful Italians or the precise-passing Spaniards? Read more
Rain doesn’t follow the plow: climate change, agriculture and water
It takes about 1000 cubic metres (m3) of water to produce the food that one person eats in a year, assuming a daily intake of 2800 kilocalories (kcal) per day. This doesn’t include all the food wasted, and the average hides enormous differences in diet. Farmers have always had to react to changes in rainfall and temperature, but as a new OECD report Climate Change, Water and Agriculture argues, climate change poses challenges on a different scale from the variations that can affect crops and livestock during the course of a season or even a year or two. Read more
Who listens to policy advice, and what happens when they do?
One of the main tasks of international organisations such as the OECD is to advise governments on policy. Research and policy papers should make a difference in the real world and improve people’s lives. So a recent report by our colleagues at the World Bank came as quite a shock to many in the “policy community”: nearly one-third of the Bank’s policy reports on economic sector work or technical assistance had never been downloaded and almost 87 percent was never cited. How about the OECD? How do we know that our work is having any influence? Read more
How’s Life in your region?
How’s life in your neighbourhood? Do you take reviving lungfuls of clean fresh air when you step outside your front door, or struggle to peer through a miasma of polluted particles? Is it easy to find a job or is unemployment higher than in neighbouring areas? When it comes to measuring wellbeing, national figures are all very well, but they cannot tell you what it’s like to live in a particular region or city.
Our day-to-day experience is essentially local – how easy is it to find a job, is there good Internet access and how clean is the air? And how can you find out these things about a new area? The OECD’s Regional Wellbeing tool enables you to do just that. Read more
What teachers – and the rest of us – can learn from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey – TALIS
We entrust our children – and our countries’ future – to teachers; but do we really know how they feel about teaching, or what teaching practices they consider effective, or what makes them successful in their work? Today we reveal the results from our Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which asked more than 100,000 teachers in 34 participating countries about how their daily work is recognised, appraised and rewarded, about their attitudes towards teaching, and about their own experiences as lifelong learners. The results are important. Read more
How to stop businesses behaving badly
The transatlantic trade deal must work for the people, or it won’t work at all
Forty of the 100 largest economic entities in the world in 2012 were corporations, not countries, according to business consultants Global Trends. The sheer size of multinational enterprises (MNEs) leads many citizens to worry that they will abuse their economic power and political influence. This is not a new concern, and in fact was one of the reasons the OECD produced its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprisesin 1976. The original Guidelines were published as an Annexe to a Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. At the time, much of the pressure to create some kind of framework for MNE activities came from the firms themselves.
In 2013, the United States and the European Union began talks on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The AFL-CIO and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) believe that increasing trade ties could be beneficial for both American and European workers, but only if TTIP promotes a people-centered approach which considers the interests of the public and not just those of corporations.
Corporate leaders: Your supply chain is your responsibility
On 24 April 2013 the Rana Plaza, a commercial building and garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, claiming some 1,130 lives and injuring thousands more. The shock was felt globally. How could this happen? Who was to blame? If the building was not fit for purpose, why was it being used? How could such a disaster be prevented from happening again? OECD Observer article
Ready-made garments in Bangladesh: No longer a forgotten sector
The collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, killing over a thousand workers, was not just a human tragedy. The ready-made garmants sector is hugely important in Bangladesh, both economically and socially. This gives dealing with the Rana Plaza aftermath even greater importance. OECD Observer article
Corporate Social Responsibility: Emerging good practice for a new era
Are global companies improving their environmental, social and governance performance? There is good reason to be optimistic, though there is much work to be done. OECD Observer article
Responsible business conduct: Which way forward?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer just a marketing buzzword but has become a mainstream part of business operations in companies the world over. From so-called triple bottom line accounting through legal frameworks to stock market indexes that reward responsible business conduct on social and environmental fronts, company values increasingly reflect CSR values too. But what of their global supply chains, do they hold the same high values? How can multinational companies in particular be sure that the myriad of firms they source from in poorer countries do not cut corners with people’s lives or the environment? In this OECD Observer roundtable, we asked a range of stakeholders, from government, business, labour and civil society, for their views. OECD Observer article