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OECD Secretary-General

Official visit of Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, to the OECD

 

Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

28 April 2015

OECD, Paris

 

Your Excellency Ban Ki-moon,

Mrs Yoo Soon-taek,

Excellencies Ambassadors,

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Colleagues,

 

It is my honour and privilege to welcome the United Nations Secretary-General to the OECD. Your visit, Mr Ban, marks the first visit of a serving UN Secretary-General to the OECD in 17 years. Welcome!

28 April 2015 - OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría (left) introducing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the OECD. Paris, France.
Photos: OECD/Matthieu de Martignac

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Secretary-General Ban needs little introduction. In his eight years at the helm of the United Nations, he has succeeded in raising the bar on many issues: climate, gender equality, and ending sexual violence – to name only a few. I would like to share a few thoughts on the partnership between our two organisations. A partnership which has grown from strength to strength since Mr Ban took office.

 

When the OECD was founded some 55 years ago, our leaders had a very different view of the day’s challenges. But one thing was clear from the outset: their conviction that broad international co-operation should help build peace and prosperity worldwide. In fact, the second line of the OECD Convention refers to the overarching purposes of the United Nations. Our partnership with the United Nations family is – quite literally – written into the OECD’s DNA!

 

Earlier this afternoon, Secretary-General Ban and I discussed some of the crucial work that nations are undertaking this year: preparations for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa; efforts to agree new Sustainable Development Goals by September; and the preparations spearheaded by our host country, France, for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) under the UNFCCC.

 

In all of these areas – and others – the OECD is working with, and supporting, the United Nations. For example, our work in the area of taxation is unique, with initiatives such as the Automatic Exchange of Information, Tax, and the Tax projects already delivering on the promise of a fairer international tax system.

 

And while the OECD will continue to press for more and better aid to developing countries, it is also at the forefront of efforts to look beyond aid to other ways in which members can support development. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation is an important forum in this regard.

 

And over 25 developing countries have benefited from the OECD’s expertise in the area of investment policy through the Policy Framework on Investment. I look forward to our rich discussions on these issues in Addis Ababa in July.

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We are faced with unique opportunities and responsibilities over the coming months. We should be excited by the emerging Sustainable Development Goals. They have the potential to rekindle the spirit of solidarity that underpinned the Millennium Declaration. We have a collective responsibility to deliver on our promises, to eradicate poverty once and for all, and deliver well-being for citizens worldwide.

 

The SDGs promise to change the way we look at the world. OECD countries should – along with others – adopt them and adapt them. We should all use the SDGs to take a hard look at how our own policy choices help or hinder the achievement of the Goals, both at home and in other countries.

 

OECD expertise in a number of areas – from statistics to governance – seems particularly useful, and I am pleased that our respective teams are already working together. Measuring progress is, after all, part of the OECD's raison d'être.

 

Finally, in the area of climate, many of you are actively engaged in our project on Aligning Policies for the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy, a mission given to us by OECD Ministers to bring together the wealth of evidence at the OECD, IEA, NEA and ITF, and to show how policies in areas as wide-ranging as innovation, trade, taxation, and energy need to change. We do this in support of the wider United Nations effort on climate.

 

Today, I have mentioned only a few of the things we are working on with the United Nations family. If you have a chance to read the note we prepared to mark Secretary-General Ban’s visit, you will see that the co-operation between our two organisations is in fact vast.

 

Dear Secretary-General: I hope you will use this opportunity to tell us how the OECD can do more. Because the challenges ahead of us – recovering from the crisis, ending poverty, and curbing climate change – are huge.

 

To borrow the words of the late Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” So, Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen: let’s do it together!

 

Secretary-General: the floor is yours.

 

Thank you.