Remarks by Angel Gurría,
1 June 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank Minister Valdés for officially opening our Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) 2016 and adopting the Agenda. Chile is chairing the MCM for the first time, with Finland, Hungary and Japan as Vice-Chairs. They have put together an ambitious and forward-looking agenda.
Today is the first day of my third term as Secretary-General. I would like to thank you for your trust. Your decision to renew my mandate to lead the OECD until 2021 strengthens my commitment to make this Organisation even more relevant, more useful, and more efficient. The Strategic Orientations are based on the “21 for 21” Agenda, on the outcomes of the 2015 MCM and on discussions with Ambassadors and hundreds of Ministers, as well as trade union, business and political leaders. They are my proposed vision, mission and ambition for the OECD to move forward and best serve the interests of our Members and Partners. They are meant to generate an informal open exchange and ultimately to encourage you to deliver your Strategic Orientations for me and the OECD Secretariat.
Today’s global environment demands an urgent call to action. 2015 saw unprecedented international agreements and commitments. It was the year of multilateralism: we had progress on BEPS and the Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development; and; of course, the world-defining SDGs and COP21.
But while agreements are important, it’s implementation that changes lives. As this year has already shown, corruption and tax evasion scandals keep eroding trust. We have to root out these corrosive practices.
And as this morning’s MCM session reminded us, two key twin challenges are putting our well-being and those of future generations at risk: low growth and rising inequalities. Meanwhile, instability in some regions, such as the Middle East, has driven an unprecedented refugee flow that recipient countries are having difficulty coping with.
Looking forward, rapid technological change and growing digitalisation bring opportunities, but also questions: what will the future of work look like? What skills will be needed to succeed? Which jobs are threatened?
These simultaneous and complex challenges are severely testing the capacities of our governments. International organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to provide coherent policy support in all of these areas at once, which adequately consider trade-offs and complementarities. The OECD is at that front line, as we have shown with our New Approaches to Economic Challenges - OLD (NAEC) initiative. The OECD is your Organisation. Ready to work with you and for you. You can count on us to support you as you confront global and national challenges.
Our top priority, and that of these Strategic Orientations, is to improve the well-being of the people, the people who put their trust in us, the people who struggle to make a living, the people who deserve the opportunity to develop their full potential. And we know that we will only achieve this through incessant reforms and their implementation, implementation, implementation. Count on us!
This is why I propose to you for 2016-2017 that we strengthen our capacity to support policy design and implementation at a national level. Our efforts to help countries design, develop and deliver structural reforms have borne important fruit. We must strengthen this capacity, building on tools like Going for Growth, our national Economic Surveys and our Better Policies Series.
We must continue building a new growth narrative focused on well-being. By mainstreaming the outcomes of NAEC, by deepening the distributional aspects of our policy advice, by broadening our focus on children, migrants, skills, digitalisation, and the productivity-inclusiveness nexus, we can help build a new growth narrative that goes beyond GDP.
We will continue to lead policy debates on emerging issues. A few megatrends, from digitalisation to ageing, shape the world in which we live. We are mainstreaming horizon-scanning and scenarios within OECD work, and responding to the demand from Member and Partner countries for policy-relevant foresight.
We will support collective global policy action.The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement at COP21, Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AEOI) and the anti-BEPS Agreements need to be turned into action. The OECD will mobilise its tools, data and expertise to help countries deliver. Tomorrow we’ll be presenting The OECD Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals, which puts all our existing capacity at the fingertips of your governments. We will continue to support the implementation of the climate agreement with our work on mitigation and adaptation and climate financing. And we will also continue to upgrade our work on anti-corruption, building on the London Summit, and to collectively build a fairer international tax system. By the way, our work on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) has already yielded more than 50 billion euros of tax revenue through “voluntary disclosure programmes”. That is 125 times our Part 1 budget. The potential for BEPS is up to 200 billion euros per year. The OECD is your best value for money deal!
We are also committed to further developing our productivity and competitiveness agenda, including better understanding the measurement of productivity, its implications for inclusiveness, its territorial dimensions. And we will intensify our effort to help countries increase their global competitiveness by improving the enabling environment for trade and investment.
We will strengthen the impact of our standards and identify where new standards are needed. We will also increase our support to help countries implement OECD standards, and leverage our relations with other IOs to expand the global outreach of these tools.
We must also enhance the effectiveness, inclusiveness and global character of our Organisation. Inspired by the conclusion of accession discussions with Latvia and progress by other accession candidates – Colombia, Costa Rica and Lithuania – we will continue to make this organisation more global and inclusive. We are increasing our knowledge of developing countries, encouraging key partners to join more OECD bodies, promoting regional and country programmes (such as the new LAC Programme) and supporting global fora such as the G7, the G20, APEC, and the Pacific Alliance.
And last but certainly not least, we will continue to enhance the quality and efficiency of the Organisation’s management, administrative, communications and financial systems. We will stay at the cutting edge of management practices, promoting even greater diversity, better horizontal collaboration, stronger communication strategies, leveraging digital technologies and social media.
All these priorities will be reflected in our OECD horizontal projects - our project on Inclusive Growth - Old site, which includes work on the Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus, but also in our new horizontal projects on Migration/Integration and finally on the Digital Economy. These are the three proposed horizontal projects for the 2017-2018 biennium.
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
You have built a remarkable institution. We are building it together. So let’s think big and act strategically, which is what I would like to discuss with you in this session. The OECD is living proof that brighter futures can be created when nations get together to learn from each other. The sum of our experiences is greater than the size of our challenges. We have proved this many times. Let’s keep learning, sharing, designing, developing and delivering better policies for better lives for the benefit of our Member countries and throughout the world.
In the words of Isabel Allende, one of Chile’s great contemporary novelists: “Give, give, give - what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if [we] don't give it away?”