Secretary-General

Third International Conference on Financing for Development - Roundtable 1: Global partnership and the three dimensions of sustainable development

 

Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

13 July 2015

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

(As prepared for delivery)

 

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is a privilege to participate in this global conference on financing for development. I would like to congratulate the United Nations and Ethiopia for the organisation of this event. The MDGs helped to lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty, but today almost as many people are still there, while nearly 800 million people do not have enough to eat.

 

Despite the deepest and most scarring crisis in living memory, development aid - ODA for short - reached an all-time high of USD 135.2 billion in 2014. But we still have a lot of work ahead. Net ODA as a share of gross national income (GNI) was only 0.29% among OECD DAC members in 2014. No ifs, no buts: aid commitments must be met!

 

ODA will remain a crucial part of international development co-operation, but a much stronger role for finance beyond ODA will also be needed. The post-2015 sustainable development agenda will require the mobilisation of a wide array of domestic and international resources from both public and private actors. To deliver this we will have to work together at the multilateral level to ensure the strongest global partnership.

 

Let me share with you in a few broad brushstrokes how the OECD is helping to strengthen this partnership.

 

A multidisciplinary approach

 

The OECD is helping advance financing for development in several parallel tracks. We are partnering with a wide range of stakeholders, including developing countries and emerging economies to capture all the ways in which countries support development. The OECD is expanding statistical measurement through the total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) framework. What is measured shapes incentives, and incentives shape action, so getting this right is vital work.

 

We are supporting various international platforms for partnership and dialogue, including the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), whose support unit is jointly managed by the OECD and UNDP; as well the OECD Development Centre’s pioneering Global Network of Foundations Working for Development.We estimate that philanthropy’s financial contribution to development has multiplied by a factor of nearly ten over a decade, so achieving more and better aid relies also on achieving more and better dialogue with and among philanthropic foundations. 

 

We are also helping emerging and developing countries improve their investment frameworks. More and better investment is an essential ingredient in the sustainable development recipe. This rests on putting the right policies in place to attract foreign and domestic investment. To this end, working closely with countries at all levels of development, the OECD has updated its Policy Framework for Investment (or "PFI"), which is already used by over 30 emerging and developing economies. The PFI increases countries’ capacities to generate investment, to build enabling environments, and to get the right policy mix to promote inclusive and sustainable development.

 

We are also amidst a potential revolution in the international tax system, developing new tools that will help developing countries mobilise domestic resources by improving their capacities to collect taxes, in their countries and around the world. We are working in close partnership with developing and emerging economies to establish a principled and coherent approach to international taxation which meets the distinct challenges of the 21st century.  

 

More than a dozen developing countries participate in the decision-making and technical bodies of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (or "BEPS") Project, all the more important when you consider that corporate tax represents a higher proportion of total tax revenues in developing countries. 

 

More than 55 developing countries participate, directly or indirectly (through their membership in two key regional tax organisations ATAF (African Tax Administration Forum) and CIAT (Inter-American Centre for Tax Administration) in the decision-making and technical bodies responsible for the BEPS project. And more than 80 developing countries and other non-OECD/non-G20 economies have been consulted through five Regional Network Meetings and five thematic global fora meetings. Developing countries are also working within the 127-member OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax old site. 94 jurisdictions, including many tax havens, have committed to the new Common Reporting Standard.

 

Finally, I am proud to announce that this evening, in partnership with UNDP, we will be launching Tax Inspectors Without Borders. This partnership will help build tax audit capacity in developing countries and increase revenues. In Kenya, for example, the OECD found that every dollar spent on assisting the tax authorities on cracking down on tax avoidance helped to produce over $1000 in increased revenues.

 

But for these efforts to bear fruit, countries need the institutional, legal, and entrepreneurial capacity to promote resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth. We need to support all countries to build on these capacities, so that they can make the best out of international financing for development. This is also what we are trying to do at the OECD, helping them to develop better policies for better lives.

 

Let me give you some examples.

 

Better policies for stronger development

 

Our PISA for Development initiative is helping countries assess progress towards nationally- and internationally-set education goals, and better understand what factors promote or obstruct learning, particularly for poor or marginalised populations.

 

In the area of gender equality, our Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) is providing a strong evidence base across 160 countries to effectively address and measure the discriminatory social institutions that hold back progress on gender equality.

 

Our MENA Investment Programme supports investment policy reforms for growth and employment in the Middle East and North Africa, convening representatives of MENA governments, OECD member countries and emerging economies to share best practice and identify priority business climate reforms and support their implementation.

 

Finally, in the third, environmental, dimension of sustainable development, the OECD’s recent study, Aligning Policies for the Low Carbon Economy, is helping developed and developing countries alike to find the right policy mix to deliver on climate commitments. All policies, from taxation, to investment, trade and agriculture need to be coherent and aligned to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In all these areas and more, there is no copyright on good policy! The OECD is here to help. We work with 146 countries that are not members of the OECD and that figure is rising every year.

 

Only two weeks ago, I had the privilege to welcome the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the OECD. This occasion marked China joining the OECD Development Centre as a full member. In our discussions, we evoked the ancient Chinese proverb: “When people work with one mind, they can even move Mount Tai”. At the OECD, we will support countries to work with one mind to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we can and we must deliver Better Policies and Better Lives.

 

Thank you.