OECD Secretary-General

Government Foresight Community Annual Meeting


Transcript of the Video Message

Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

OECD, Paris France - Friday, 9 October 2020

(As prepared for delivery)




Welcome to our annual meeting of the Government Foresight Community

Much has changed since we met a year ago. The global pandemic shattered many of our expectations. It unleashed new magnitudes of doubt and insecurity across the world, and across all policy areas that governments face.

At the OECD, we are working tirelessly to support our members and the international community in their response. We launched a Digital Hub on Tackling the Coronavirus, providing a single entry point to the OECD’s analysis on the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. To date, we have published 156 policy briefs in virtually all areas of our policy work.

In addition, we have also provided policy advice to global fora such as the G20; we have kept open lines of communication with other multilateral organisations to ensure a co-ordinated and coherent response; and we have organised three virtual Ministerial Council Roundtables on the economic and employment outlook and the environment, as well as a number of targeted COVID-19 Ministerial briefings for a number of our Member countries.

Yet, in the current context, one thing has remained clear: we need strategic foresight more than ever.

Strategic foresight cannot only help us deal with the current crisis, it should also help us to tackle ongoing crises which will not wait for COVID-19 to end. This includes the waste of resources on stranded assets, the erosion of trust in governments and institutions and of course the urgency of climate change.

While predicting the future is impossible – and the current crisis proves this well – strategic foresight offers policymakers invaluable tools to help them face the unexpected. Strategic foresight is about challenging our expectations and our assumptions. It is about exploring the future to generate more innovative and future-proof policies today. And it is about looking beyond the present, beyond the near-future, and taking a look at what lies further ahead of us.

The COVID-19 crisis exposed a number of realities which affect the way we tackle challenges. This includes the very delicate connection between our environment and our health; the pre-existing structural vulnerabilities in our economies and societies; and most of all, the repercussions of our present problems on our shared future.

The crisis has also clearly showed us that now is the time for leaders to rethink and rebuild, while embracing longer-term approaches. We must all acknowledge that none of us can do this alone and strategic foresight possesses the ability to unite and offer a common goal for all policymakers.

At the OECD we believe that governments must boost their demand, capacity, institutions, and processes in favour of more and better strategic foresight. We also think that the best way to build such capacity is through greater international collaboration and knowledge sharing. It is a simple equation: the more minds and the more perspectives are brought together to coproduce projects, the stronger and the most effective the strategic foresight work becomes.

As you know, the OECD is at the forefront of policy analysis and standard-setting in most areas of the economy and society. This is precisely why our Government Foresight Community is a key vehicle for building better policies for better lives. By sharing our best ideas and our best practices, we can learn from each other and strengthen the quality and impact of our foresight work. Together, we can expand and mainstream the practice of foresight globally, for our mutual benefit.

The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the importance of your role. Our recovery strategies to build back better need your strategic vision and input. Let’s keep helping each other improve, let’s keep learning together. I very much hope that this meeting provides scope and knowledge to keep strengthening our foresight community for the benefit of humanity.

Thank you for your work. I wish you a great meeting.



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