Introductory Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
08 April 2014, Tokyo, Japan
(as prepared for delivery)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to launch the Friends of the OECD Parliamentary Group. It is indeed a very good moment to launch the Friends of the OECD on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Japan’s membership to the OECD.
I want to thank my friend, Nikai-san, for being the driving force in setting up the Group, at a time when he was very busy as Chair of the Budget committee; and for making the group accessible to all parliamentarians from both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. My thanks also go to OECD Deputy Secretary-General Rintaro Tamaki, who was instrumental in this process, and to our friends in the Diet Secretariat.
OECD Global Parliamentary Network
We consider dialogue with Parliamentarians as essential to our work. You are not only legislators, but also sounding boards for our citizens and societies – for the very people whose lives we want to improve through public policy and reform. As such, initiatives like the ‘Friends of the OECD’ go to the very heart of our mission - Better Policies for Better Lives.
As you may be aware, in 2011, when the OECD celebrated its 50th anniversary, we launched the OECD Global Parliamentary Network, with the aim of enhancing our engagement with legislators around the globe.
We now have parliamentary contact points in 26 countries! These meetings provide an opportunity for open exchanges of views between Members of Parliament and OECD experts. Some of you have already attended a number of our meetings and I want to encourage you to continue to actively participate in this Network.
8/4/2014 - Reception to launch the “Friends of the OECD”
- Angel Gurria, Scretary General of the OECD
- Sadako Ogata, former President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Honorary Chair of the Advisory Board on Human Security to United Nations
- Toshihiro Nikai, Member of House of Representatives (Chairman of “Friends of the OECD”, Chairman of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives)
- Nobuo Kishi, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
The OECD Ministerial Council Meeting
In a few weeks’ time, Japan will be chairing the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM), for the second time since 1978. The MCM is our most important event of the year. Representatives of our Member and Partners countries gather at the highest level, to take stock of the achievements of the year, and to set the direction for the work ahead.
I am sure that the theme of this year’s MCM will resonate with you, since it’s a shared endeavour between Japan and the OECD: “How to build resilient economies and inclusive societies?” Let me give you a brief overview of some of the priorities that will be high in the OECD MCM Agenda this year:
NAEC and Inclusive Growth: the defining challenge of our time
The crisis has been a wake-up call for the OECD to revisit our analytical frameworks and policy assumptions. It has highlighted the interconnectedness of economic activity and the urgent need for common, cordinated and well informed global responses to economic, social and political challenges.
Our project on New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) engages the whole organisation to rethink and incorporate the lessons from the crisis. The goal to empower people and strengthen societal resilience also underpins efforts to make economic growth more inclusive, balanced and sustainable. We need to better take into account the planet’s exhaustible resources, to focus on reducing inequalities and increasing people’s quality of life, particularly in the context of our ageing societies.
In this context, our Inclusive Growth Initiative proposes a multi-dimensional approach. The Initiative focuses on better understanding the distributional consequences of structural policies, as well as identifying synergies and trade-offs among policy actions that can promote growth and ensure a better distribution of its benefits among social groups. It engages key actors across advanced, emerging and developing economies.
We must confront environmental risks
Japan is not alone in confronting a range of environmental risks. The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 shows that climate change, biodiversity loss and water stress will continue to challenge environmental resilience globally in the coming decades.
Of these, climate change poses the most far-reaching risks, with more frequent extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the cascading impacts on economies and societies. It is estimated that USD 43 billion worth of economic losses were caused by extreme weather events in 2013; and the costs seem be steadily rising each year. OECD analysis also shows that unabated climate change will significantly lower GDP growth prospects over the longer-term.
An economic, social and technological transformation requires governments to align policies in a wide range of areas such as tax, investment, innovation, energy, competition, the environment, and urban planning. Scaling up public and private green investment will be essential to underpin a timely transition. With Japan’s support, the OECD is working on how to mobilise at least a fraction of the USD 83 trillion in assets held by institutional investors towards green infrastructure investments.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Japan’s contribution to the work of the OECD over the past half century, has been remarkable: you are one of our most active members – a benchmark for other member countries with respect to the development and implementation of well-designed policies and best practices.
The creation of this Group is yet another example Japan’s commitment to making the OECD a lynchpin of global policy dialogue and increasing its impact. Rest assured that we stand ready to help you develop the Group, via our OECD Centre in Tokyo, drawing on expertise from the Secretariat in Paris.
Let me conclude by inviting you all to attend the next meeting of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network, which will take place on 25-26 June in Mexico City, and, of course, the OECD Week in Paris in early May. Let’s keep the conversation going!