Director Mario Pezzini reflects on some of Development Centre’s achievements of 2018 and how the Centre could build on them in 2019.
By sharing knowledge, engaging with new partners, and investing in analyses and data, the Centre charts a course towards better development policies.
As we conclude this year and prepare for the new one, I write to thank you for your deep support of the OECD Development Centre and to seek your ongoing involvement and insights in charting the course ahead. The reality we live proves that international co-operation delivers, despite the often-boisterous rhetoric against the merits of multilateralism. When countries at all levels of development gather on equal footing, as they do at the OECD Development Centre, to share their experiences, to discuss and debate development policies, and to learn from one another, mutual interests and common values are strengthened. Allow me to highlight three key areas where the OECD Development Centre’s select achievements in 2018 illustrate genuine co-operation in the pursuit of sustainable development.
At its core, the OECD Development Centre produces the analyses and data countries need to design evidence-based policies for development. True to this mission, 2018 saw the release of annual flagship regional analyses, led by the launch of a brand-new continental report on Africa. The African Union Commission invited the Development Centre to work together in developing such a publication, marking the first time the Commission produced an annual economic report since its creation in 1963. The ensuing inaugural edition of Africa’s Development Dynamics (AfDD) focuses on jobs, growth and inequalities throughout the continent and was formally unveiled at the Commission’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. Subsequently, the Embassy of Ireland in Ethiopia organised a roundtable for representatives from member countries of the OECD Development Centre to discuss the AfDD. Ireland’s decision to host such an inclusive discussion set the stage for similar initiatives that aim to transform the AfDD into a platform for dialogue, analysis and co-operation on issues pertinent to Africa’s development. The AfDD joins this year’s Latin American Economic Outlook on Rethinking Institutions for Development, which included the European Commissionas a partner for the first time,and the Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India that delves into smart transportation strategies for the region’s further development and was launched in Singapore at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
Global analyses complement these regional outlooks, with the release of the OECD Development Centre’s 2019 Perspectives on Global Development (PGD) on Rethinking Development Strategies. The PGD’s November launch in Korea during the 6th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy emphasised that developing countries in the 21st century have to invent their own, original pathways to greater well-being and sustainability that are multisectoral, participatory, location-specific and embedded in a multilateral framework. Also of global relevance to sustainable development, the launch of the updated 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) in Brussels in December, alongside the Austrian Government as part of its presidency of the Council of the European Union, showcased the Development Centre’s ongoing expertise in producing comparable data and evidence to challenge discriminatory gender norms and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. This builds on the decision this year by the United Nations to appoint the Development Centre as one of the custodian agencies to track progress on SDG 5.1.1, which measures whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor gender equality.
Moreover, the OECD Development Centre continued significant policy work within countries. Multi-dimensional Country Reviews (MDCRs) were released for Panama, Morocco, Paraguay, Thailand and Senegal. More countries are implementing the recommendations found in their MDCRs. President Nazarbayev, for example, prioritised citizen well-being over economic growth in line with Kazakhstan’s MDCR. Peru established a metropolitan transport authority in Lima and Callao in September 2018 given recommendations in its MDCR. And Côte d'Ivoire heeded the suggestion of its MDCR and created an observatory to reinforce confidence in financial services, stepping up quality and transparency that our monitoring and evaluation process with the country supports.
Our analysis also looked at specific sectors. Together with the International Labour Organisation, we completed an innovative four-year project that studied how immigrants contribute to the economies of developing countries. Ten country studies and a global report showed that, contrary to often-negative public perceptions, immigrants have positive but limited impact on host countries’ economies in terms of job creation and public finances. The results were also presented during the 11th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit Meeting, confirming the Development Centre’s strong positioning on the migration-development nexus. We analysed domestic resource mobilisation with the release of Revenue Statistics in Africa, a resource we produced alongside the OECD Centre for Tax Administration and Policy, the African Tax Administration Forum and the African Union Commission, with the European Union’s support. We produced similar compilations of revenue statistics for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in Asia and the Pacific. We delivered another multi-year and multi-country project on youth inclusion, produced recommendations for maximising the youth dividend through our Youth Well-Being Policy Reviews of Malawi, Jordan and Moldova, and released thematic analyses on youth entrepreneurship, aspirations and rural livelihoods. Within the framework of the Development Centre’s ongoing work on social protection, we launched Social Protection System Reviews of both Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia, organised a policy dialogue on financing social protection, and widened our understanding of informality by developing a new database that looks at informal employment at individual and household levels across 27 countries.
Given the volume of our analyses, the Development Centre continued to look for ways of making our reports more streamlined, more relevant and more accessible for busy policy makers eager to turn analysis into action. Our ongoing use of policy briefs, executive summaries in various languages, infographics, social media (@OECD_centre), and the Development Matters blog platform help.
Because the Development Centre’s Governing Board includes both OECD and non-OECD member countries, it is a natural forum for robust and rich policy dialogues. The Governing Board is increasingly evolving into and embracing this role as a special space within the OECD for discussions amongst countries at all levels of development on cross-cutting issues.
As this evolution continues, we saw avenues for dialogue expand in 2018. In addition to hosting the inaugural Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment, the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Mutual Learning Group for Multi-dimensional Country Reviews, and the 2nd Policy Dialogue on Migration and Development, we brought together Paris-based African ambassadors from our member countries and beyond in an informal group to discuss issues pertinent to the AfDD. We contributed expert inputs to the G20 development agenda under Argentina’s leadership and partnered with UNDP to co-organise the 3rd annual G20 workshop on Sustainable Development and Inclusive Globalisation. Attended by over 100 representatives and experts from G20 and non-G20 countries, international organisations and G20 engagement groups, the workshop facilitated fruitful brainstorming on how the G20 can advance sustainable development for all. And the Development Centre hosts two global policy dialogues that continued to deliver in 2018. The OECD Initiative on Global Value Chains, Production Transformation and Development launched the Production Transformation Policy Review (PTPR) of Chile and started PTPRs for Shenzhen, China and Colombia. The OECD Policy Dialogue on Natural Resource-based Development has produced practical guidance on how to translate finite natural resource into long-lasting development gains. In parallel, the three-year multi-stakeholder consultation process on the Guiding Principles for Durable Extractive Contracts has made great strides towards the finalisation of the document.
The Development Centre’s networks of foundations (netFWD), businesses (EMnet) and development communicators (DevCom) gave voice to diverse development actors. The first-of-its-kind Private Philanthropy for Development report, jointly produced with the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, captures globally comparable data on how foundations support development. Building on this research, we helped open the Centre on Philanthropy to serve as a knowledge hub for international philanthropy. EMnet held its first regional meeting in Central America in conjunction with the IberoAmerican Business Summitin Antigua, Guatemala, alongside that country’s Ministry of Economy, EMnet member Walmart and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency for Development (AECID). DevCom celebrated its landmark 30th anniversary in 2018, with its online platform The SDG Communicator engaging citizens on sustainable development and already attracting more than 5 000 views.
And building on the OECD Development Centre’s close engagement with member country China, we were privileged to host the 4th Silk Road Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Promoting Global Sustainable Development alongside the Development Research Center of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, UNIDO, and the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development. The event brought over 300 guests to Paris in December. They engaged in high-level policy dialogues, exchanges and consultations on the role of technology and innovation, the importance of green low-carbon trade, investment and development, and strategies for building an inclusive development that embraces multiple actors. Participants shed light on the BRI, its contribution to sustainable development and its complementarity with other connectivity initiatives.
We made incredible strides this year on the Development in Transition approach, working with the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The approach calls on development actors to rethink both domestic policies and international co-operation, and the interplay between the two, to help countries address development traps and turn income gains into lasting development gains. The Development in Transition approach was discussed at high-profile events back-to-back with this year’s opening of the United Nations General Assembly, including by Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed and by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. And the Development in Transition approach is at the heart of an innovative Regional Facility for Development in Transition for Latin America and the Caribbean approved by the European Commission this year. It recognises the challenges faced by countries in that region as they reach higher levels of income but continue to face structural roadblocks to their development, such as weak social frameworks, inequalities and poor resource mobilisation. Helping these countries design and implement domestic policies for transitioning to sustainable development and how best to align those policies with regional and international responses promises to offer useful lessons for other regions too.
And we continue to broaden our co-operation on quality infrastructure. Inspired and led by Japan’s support for prioritising this key issue, we organised an experts meeting in December to further discuss the role of quality infrastructure for sustainable and inclusive growth in countries at all levels of development, a theme that will be central in the 2019 G20 presidency. Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s call for simplifying and standardising procedures for quality infrastructure during his address at our 18th International Economic Forum on Africa confirms a real demand and a real opportunity for more substantial co-operation in this area.
Clearly, we see the tangible fruits of our co-operation in these three areas. Now is the time to double-down on reinforcing these bonds. Well-equipped and well-prepared -- given our already approved 2019-2020 Programme of Work and Budget, our solid Membership and Outreach Strategy, our exceptionally professional and talented staff, and under the able leadership of Ambassador Manuel Escudero of Spain as the new Governing Board Chair who followed the skillful and charismatic leadership of Ambassador Monica Aspe of Mexico -- we are well-poised to start the New Year with renewed passion and purpose to continue delivering measurable results and maximum value for money.
With best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season, we count on you to steer our path forward in the New Year to optimise co-operation and partnerships with communities and countries worldwide that are determined to create a better life for their citizens.
Director, OECD Development Centre
Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development