Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD
Paris, 4 March 2014
(As prepared for delivery)
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,
Welcome to the OECD, and thank you for attending this Meeting of National Focal Points for Policy Coherence for Development.
Your turnout here today underlines the importance and the urgency of the issues at hand. Particularly the emerging megatrends in an increasingly uncertain post-2015 world and how we can respond to them in a coherent and integrated manner.
Much has changed in the way we tackle development issues since our Organisation began its work on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in the early 1990s. Back then, the development agenda was driven by aid agencies, and the aid community was the main advocate for policy coherence.
As challenges become more complex than ever before however, greater coherence of all stakeholders is imperative. A much larger development advocacy community exists today, engaging leaders on a broader set of issues such as financial integrity, food security, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and Global Value Chains (GVCs) – to name but a few. In addition, sources of economic growth – and of policy solutions – are also evolving and a very different type of multilateralism is emerging, thanks to fora such as the G20.
I should stress at the outset that our focus and dedication to existing aid commitments continues to be indispensable, especially for the least developed countries and fragile states.
Towards a truly international framework of policies for sustainable development.
Today’s development challenges are global challenges. As we head towards 2015 and a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), our common future remains at stake. We are facing a plethora of issues including: growing inequalities; changing consumption patterns and population dynamics; increasing natural resource scarcity; and climate change.
In its report last year, the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda called for “a truly international framework of policies to achieve sustainable development”.
In this respect, I see PCD as a central pillar of this international framework. It provides us with the opportunity to better understand the barriers to development, the economic, social and environmental implications of global challenges, and the inter-linkages between them. Ultimately, it is an important tool allowing us to promote and sustain change.
The costs of inaction are high.
Allow me to share with you some examples that underscore why coherence matters and why inaction today is not an option. Consider illicit financial flows out of developing countries, for example. The numbers are disputed, but we are often told that illicit outflows from developing countries far outweigh aid inflows. Many of these funds end up in OECD countries.
Tax evasion is estimated to account for 60 to 65 per cent of all illicit flows. These are funds that should be spent on public services – education and healthcare, for example. So you can see that policies on issues such as tax evasion, anti-bribery and money laundering are absolutely crucial instruments for supporting development.
Climate change is another important area. More proactive policy coherence will be crucial if we are to eliminate fossil fuel emissions completely in the second half of the century. Nevertheless, our dependence on fossil fuels appears to be unshaken. Today, two-thirds of electricity generation and nearly 95% of the energy consumed by the world’s transport systems rely on fossil fuels.
Why is this? It is because governments are allocating huge amounts of resources to fossil fuel subsidies, and as a result we tilt the playing field in favour of continued reliance on fossil fuels. The numbers speak for themselves: fossil-fuel subsidies worldwide amounted to USD 523 billion in 2011 – around six times greater than the level of support for renewable energy.
The OECD – a driving force for more coherent policies.
In tackling these challenges, the OECD remains committed to helping governments design better – and more coherent – policies for better lives. Last year, as part of our Strategy for Development, we released our first report measuring OECD members’ efforts to curb illicit financial flows.
We provided recommendations on ways in which more coherent policies could help address food insecurity and reduce hunger worldwide. And we have helped put in place a new, inclusive Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which will hold its first meeting in Mexico City next month.
The OECD’s multi-faceted work extends to many additional areas. For example, we promote the implementation of targeted green growth policies not only to help mitigate the effects of climate change, but also because they are key in unlocking new sources of growth. Our forthcoming Economic Surveys will include data and analysis of climate policies and, by mid-2015, we expect to have a clear picture of the progress being made and the challenges that remain in OECD countries and all major emerging economies.
In the area of tax evasion, our work on Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) is providing governments with new domestic and international tools to fight tax avoidance. At the same time, our fight against international corruption continues through the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, which has helped member governments to make it a crime for their nationals and their companies to pay bribes to public officials abroad in order to win business.
Seizing the opportunity for real leadership on PCD.
We are at a critical juncture. With 2015 just around the corner, we face a moment of opportunity. We need to make 2015 the year that development became a truly shared endeavour! We must work together to ensure that the deliberations on the post-2015 agenda result in a single framework and a single set of goals that everyone can adopt as their own.
These opportunities need to be seized by your Leaders and your Centres of Government. Only they can provide the leadership, vision and co-ordination needed to achieve consensus on a coherent global development agenda.
We therefore have some work ahead of us. We will need to see major policy agendas ¬– such as Rio+20, the MDGs, post-Busan efforts on effective co-operation, the G20 and the G8 – converge in a relatively short period of time.
Above all, if we are to be successful in achieving our objectives, we need to convince Leaders to rekindle the spirit of global solidarity and partnership that underpinned the Millennium Declaration in 2000.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Our objectives are within reach! I am confident that your discussions here over the next two days will help raise PCD even higher on the political agenda. We have come a long way, but we need to go even further if we are to make a lasting impact on the realisation of the MDGs, the post-2015 development goals, and of course on people’s lives.