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OECD Secretary-General

Remarks at 4th OECD Parliamentary Days - Meeting of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network

 

Opening remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary General, OECD

Paris, 4 February 2016

(As prepared for delivery) 

 

 

Dear Parliamentarians, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Welcome to the 4th edition of the OECD Parliamentary Days. I am delighted to be with you this morning and to see that we have again a very high turnout this year!

 

Let me extend a special welcome to Jan Hamacek, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. I am also pleased that we are partnering with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, with whom we have a longstanding relationship. And for the third time, we are delighted to welcome a large delegation from the Women in Parliaments Global Forum.

 

I’m delighted to see that you have a very rich programme today and tomorrow, and that you will be addressing important subjects, ranging from financing democracy to the world energy outlook; from the “uberisation” of the economy to combating terrorist financing.


 

The economic outlook: a still hesitant recovery

 

As you know, our economies are not out of the woods yet. The crisis has been with us for almost eight years now, and the world economy shows little sign of recovery. Global economic growth remains sluggish and uneven. Recent developments in China illustrate how the risk focus has moved to emerging economies.

 

Global trade, which had been growing slowly over the past few years, appears to have stagnated and even declined since late 2014, with weakness concentrated increasingly on emerging markets. Investment is subdued and credit flow is still weak in many advanced economies, particularly in the Euro area. While we expect unemployment in OECD countries to fall close to 6% by 2017, we will continue to see unacceptably high levels of unemployment, particularly amongst young people, in many countries. We will still have six million more unemployed than before the crisis!

 

The perspective gets even more cloudy if you add increasing inequalities, growing geopolitical tension and a generalised crisis of TRUST.

 

 

It is high time to structural

 

How do we recover our “mojo”? How do we come out of this weak and hesitant recovery? Well,as most of you know, because you have legislated through important reforms for growth, we have largely run out of fiscal and monetary bullets to fully reactivate our economies. There is one main avenue going forward and this is by going structural.

 

Many of our countries have already designed and approved important structural reforms to produce a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth, but as you know reforms will only bear fruit through an effective implementation, implementation, implementation (not necessarily in that order).

 

The OECD is working intensely to help countries implement reforms in a wide range of key areas. We helped Mexico with seven reforms, we have helped Italy with labour reforms, we are working with Greece on improving competition, education, labour and public procurement , and supporting Slovenia to implement product market, labour market and pension reform, and working with Canada, including on on enhancing productivity and innovation policies. And we are working with our host country France in a wide range of areas of reform to implement more inclusive growth.

 

We also need to advance together in implementing the agreements we have reached to address our main global challenges, like combatting poverty and addressing climate change. All this is why we are calling 2016 ‘The Year of Implementation’.


 

2016 – The year of implementation

 

In Addis, in New York, in Paris and in Nairobi, the world spoke with one voice to tackle hunger, poverty and inequality. We achieved agreement to keep climate change well below 2° and we set a path to fairer global trade.

 

In November G20 Leaders also unanimously supported new and robust international rules on taxation by endorsing the OECD and G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.

 

If hard-won agreement was the headline for 2015, implementation will be the challenge for 2016. Agreements make the news, but implementation changes lives. And that’s what this organisation is all about.

  

Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals

 

The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals are universal, to be embraced by countries at all levels of development, but they also confront governments with complex challenges. With our evidence-based policy expertise, and our broad set of statistical tools, the OECD can be a GPS for the SDGs helping countries measure progress and keep it on track.

 

Through our work on policy coherence for sustainable development, we are also helping countries foster synergies between policy areas, understand trade-offs and reconcile domestic policy objectives with internationally agreed objectives

 

The OECD already supports countries in designing national development strategies and policies that can integrate the multiple dimensions of sustainable development. And we help countries leverage the power of partnerships such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation and facilitate collaboration with non-traditional actors, such as foundations.

 

Implementing the Paris Agreement on Climate change

 

Turning to climate change, you will hear more about COP21 and the Paris Agreement in a session with Faith Birol and Simon Upton later today. But let me give you a taster, by highlighting five areas in which the OECD is working and which governments will have to get right to address climate change effectively:

 

  • 1. We need a meaningful price on carbon and eliminate subsidies to fossil fuels. Every year, on average, OECD and key partner economies spend up to USD 200 billion on fossil fuel subsidies (FFS) and tax breaks for fossil fuels. But the global figure is significantly bigger: when you add price-driven subsidies for consumption of fossil fuels in emerging and developing countries, the figures swells to a staggering 600 billion USD. That’s over five times the amount governments spend on support for renewable energy, and six times the amount committed by developed countries to help developing countries achieve their climate goals!

 

  • 2. Governments need to align public policies in every corner of the economy with our collective climate ambitions. A key piece of OECD input to the COP21 was our Aligning Policies for a Low Carbon Economy report, which sets out how policymakers can do just that.

 

  • 3. We need to massively scale up investment in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure, underpinned by strong enabling policy environments that attract the necessary private finance.

 

  • 4. Governments need to find ways to boost research, development & demonstration (RD&D) as well as innovation to generate the technologies, jobs and new business models for a resilient, low-carbon economy.

 

  • 5. Finally, we need greater accountability in countries’ progress towards emission reductions and adequate climate finance for developing countries.

 

The quality of implementation in all these areas will depend on the quality of our laws and regulations. And this is something that depends a lot on you. But it will also depend on the quality of our institutions, our governance and our anti-corruption systems.

 

It is essential that reforms translate into better well-being for all. This is crucial to recover trust.

 

Delivering the Trust Agenda

 

The crisis, corruption scandals, tax avoidance and evasion by the world’s richest individuals and corporations, have eroded people’s trust in government, in institutions, in business.

 

Trust has gone and we need to get it back. Our BEPS Project, our updated G20/OECD Principles on Corporate Governance, endorsed by G20 Leaders, are contributing to improving national corporate governance frameworks and boost long-term investment. Our work on areas like export credits, investment, anti-corruption and responsible business conduct, including our OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which turn 40 this year, as well as our work on financing democracy (an area we will discuss after the break) is helping the world recover this lost trust.

 

In 2016, in addition to continued work with the G20, the OECD will push this agenda further by hosting a Ministerial meeting on anti-bribery in March, an Integrity Week in April, and participate in the summit on anti-corruption organised by the United Kingdom in May. I have also called on a High-Level Advisory Group composed of world thought leaders to advise us on tackling corruption. By mid-2016, we expect major progress on the anti-corruption tools to be made available internationally, so watch this space.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Members of Parliament play a crucial role in the design, delivery and implementation of all these areas. Commitments will have to be translated into the national context and often require legislative action.

 

These OECD GPN Parliamentary Days are an opportunity to strengthen our dialogue and work together to design, deliver, and this year, above all, implement “better policies for better lives”.

 

I look forward to your comments and questions. Thank you.

 

 

 

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