Remarks by Angel Gurría
Paris, Tuesday 03 October 2017
(As prepared for delivery)
Ministers, Excellences, ladies and gentlemen:
Welcome to the OECD for the fourth High-Level Meeting of our Development Centre Governing Board, under the leadership of Minister Faurie of Argentina and Minster Tavarez of Cabo Verde as co-chairs. Allow me to thank Ambassador Duquesne of France, Chair of the Centre’s Governing Board, as well as Mario Pezzini, the Director of the Development Centre and my Special Advisor on Development, for their leadership and efforts.
After a period of unprecedented development progress that has lifted millions out of poverty, has moved families into a global middle class for the first time, and has expanded health and education for children worldwide, we find that the story of development does not end there.
Even as countries grow, few manage to achieve growth that is inclusive and sustainable. Challenges persist: poverty, regional disparities, fragile middle classes, limited fiscal capacities, mismatched skills for productive work, the depletion of natural resources and climate vulnerabilities. The devastating impacts of the natural disasters we witnessed in the Caribbean and in my home country of Mexico have been weighing heavy on our hearts and minds. And these disasters have wiped out infrastructure and much of the hard-earned development gains in these countries.
Two weeks ago, leaders met in New York, the birthplace of the SDGs, for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. Delivering on the 2030 Agenda was at the heart of our discussions, and your agenda today – on migration, gender, and the challenges and opportunities faced by countries as they transition from one income category to the next – adds to those discussions.
I was pleased to hear that the first Policy Dialogue on Migration and Development, held yesterday, was an opportunity for countries to share policy experiences about migration’s impact on development as well as reflect on potential areas of co-operation. Consider how remittances to developing countries, which represent 3 times the volume of ODA, help reduce poverty and are a significant source of finance for development. Looking ahead, we need to better integrate migration into development strategies, as we advise in this year’s International Migration Outlook, and to strengthen policy coherence. In New York, I reaffirmed the OECD’s readiness to support the two global compacts for migration and refugees to be adopted next year.
Gender equality is another goal on which we need to accelerate progress. In New York, I had the honour of signing an MOU with UN WOMEN, as well as to launch the Equal Pay International Coalition to eliminate all gender pay gaps. Side-lining women holds back economies from growing. In fact, evidence produced by the Development Centre suggests that the gender discrimination enshrined in laws, social norms, attitudes and practices today costs the global economy up to 12 trillion USD per year. This is 16% of world income !Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a critical economic opportunity.
Finally, we need to take a hard look at the challenges countries face as they transition from one income category to another. Higher levels of income do not necessarily mean higher levels of development. Middle income countries are home to 5 of the world’s 7 billion people and 73 percent of the world’s poor. 13% of high-income countries have levels of inequality that could well be found in low-income economies. In a quarter of middle-income countries, over 50% of the urban population lives in conditions qualified as slums by the United Nations, while a few low-income countries have lower rates, such as Senegal (35%) or Zimbabwe (25%).
Policy makers do not always have the evidence, the information or the mechanisms – either domestically or when they look to the international community – to respond to their new circumstances and risks. Knowledge is often fragmented. Tools do not fit their needs. So, how can they transition smoothly? How do they avoid backsliding? How can they sustain their development successes?
Let me be clear: this is about expanding our collective toolkit to meet the needs of all countries as they develop; not about middle-income versus low-income countries competing for development assistance. It is about using and refining the tools that we have – such as our Multi-Dimensional Country Reviews; our work on climate-resilient, sustainable growth in “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth”; our Social Protection System Reviews; our series on the Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development; our extensive data and specialized indicators such as SIGI on discrimination of women and girls. These tools are there for you to help define and deliver on your development priorities. In the area of development finance, the OECD is stepping up efforts to ensure that ODA plays a catalytic role in development. Our work on developing TOSSD (Total Official Support for Sustainable Development) is just one way in which we will do this.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is a call to action to implement Agenda 2030, to achieve the SDGs, and to leave no one behind.
The OECD Development Centre brings OECD and non-OECD countries to the same table at the same time to exchange ideas, share evidence, debate, and discuss not just for this meeting, but also each and every day.
I hope that today’s meeting provides an opportunity to push the boundaries on some of the issues I have just identified – and others. The OECD stands ready to work with you and for you as you design, develop, and deliver Better Policies for Better Lives.