Remarks by Angel Gurría
Lisbon, Portugal, 3 July 2017
(as prepared for delivery)
Minister Santos Silva,
It is a great pleasure to be back in Lisbon. On this particular occasion, however, I return saddened by the recent loss of many lives from the fires that hit Portugal only days ago. My thoughts are with the people of Portugal at this very difficult moment.
Allow me to begin by thanking Minister Santos Silva and Secretary Ribeiro for hosting us, and by acknowledging the work of the DAC Chair in organising this gathering.
Today’s meeting takes place against an uncertain global backdrop. In 2015, the international community brought hope for both current and future generations when it adopted the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and when it took critical steps to curb tax evasion and avoidance.
In the year-and-a-half since then, a wave of protectionism, populism, and anti-globalisation sentiment has threatened this ambitious vision. The openness which we almost took for granted before the crisis is being questioned. Our citizens see the gap between the haves and the have-nots widening. Too often, the public discourse focuses only on the problems associated with international migration, omitting the opportunities that it presents. Too often, job creation and the preservation of our planet are pitted against each other, as if they were enemies by design.
My message today is simple: together, we must deliver. We have no choice. And to do this, we need partnerships that are stronger than ever before.
Development has been at the heart of the OECD’s work ever since its foundation. Your Committee, the DAC, is part of a cluster of development efforts at the OECD. Our Development Center brings together 52 Members, half of them developing countries. We are also proud to host the Sahel and West Africa Club, and to support an ever-growing range of international initiatives, such as the Deauville Partnership for Arab Countries in Transition.
Fifty-five years ago this month, the OECD’s first ever reviews of Members’ aid efforts were unveiled at a DAC High-Level Meeting. Over the years, these reviews and platforms have helped to distil and share good practices to help make sure that every cent of international aid is well spent.
Last year, aid to developing countries reached a new record high of USD 143 billion, an increase of 8.9% from 2015.
New partnerships have blossomed, connecting the DAC with an ever-growing ecosystem of development actors. The Nairobi ministerial of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation last November was both a celebration of these partnerships, and a call to action.
Despite these achievements and many others, much more needs to be done. Worldwide, almost a billion people still live in extreme poverty. Inequality persists, in particular in access to health and education services, and other assets.
Our analysis shows that bilateral aid to the least developed countries (LDCs) fell by 3.9% from 2015, and that aid to Africa has fallen too. We need to see a concerted effort to reverse this trend.
We also need to safeguard the commitments made in Paris. Climate action should be a no-brainer. I recently presented a report to the G20, in which we show empirically how implementing climate-friendly policies helps growth in our countries, rather than holding it back. We now need to act on this evidence.
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
I hope that this meeting provides the opportunity that we need to reflect on the challenges ahead, to take stock of where we stand, and to chart a path for a DAC fit for the challenges of the 2030 Agenda.
The OECD is ready to play its part. Our Action Plan on the SDGs sets out 70 or so concrete ways in which the OECD will support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Allow me to mention just a couple of examples:
Secretary-General Guterres: in all of these areas and others, we are committed to deepening our collaboration with the United Nations, and for the United Nations.
As I said at the outset we must deliver on the commitments of 2015. We must rebuild trust where this has been eroded. We must keep a focus on the needs of future generations, as well as the present. And we must demonstrate, through our actions, that everyone benefits from strong international co-operation.
Please count on the OECD to play its part.