Opening remarks by Angel Gurría,
Nairobi, Kenya, 30 November 2016
(as prepared for delivery)
Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be in Nairobi on the occasion of the Second High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. It seems as if our first meeting – in my native country Mexico – was only yesterday. Yet much has happened since then. We have a new blueprint for sustainable development, in the form of the SDGs. We made progress on the financing front in Addis Ababa. And the Paris Agreement, which entered into force earlier this month, is a major leap forward in tackling climate change.
Mr. President – you have convened today’s meeting at a crucial moment. Kenya has shown leadership in shaping these major agreements and it is spearheading their implementation. And it is implementation which, ultimately, changes lives. Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership, for your partnership, and for your personal commitment.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the urgency of sustainable development is evident in all countries. Shifts in wealth, power, and growth challenge traditional development models.
At the same time, we see new players, new ideas and new sources of finance. Developing countries are increasingly using taxes and remittances to finance their own development. In Africa alone in absolute numbers, tax revenues dwarf official development assistance, or ODA, by more than ten times.
In Addis Ababa last year, the UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark and I launched Tax Inspectors Without Borders – an initiative inspired by Kenya, where we found that for every dollar spent on cracking down on tax avoidance, we could help generate a return of over $1000 for the Kenyan treasury.
On the global stage, the OECD has worked with others to launch the BEPS Inclusive Framework, bringing together over 100 countries committed to tackling base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) – tax avoidance by multinationals which undermines our efforts to invest in development.
Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, this abundance of financing options is a good thing, but it makes managing it all the more complex. We need innovative approaches to manage development resources effectively.
And that is why we are here today.
When we met in Mexico two years ago, we launched the Guidelines for Effective Philanthropic Engagement. Tomorrow, we will show how these guidelines are already having an impact in countries as diverse as Kenya, India, Mexico and Myanmar. The OECD’s work with foundations and philanthropies is just one of many examples of how the Global Partnership is gearing up to help countries work towards the SDGs.
We’re also working hard to combat climate change, and are working hand-in-hand with countries to monitor their climate finance commitments.
In all of this, we must not forget that ODA will continue to play a vital role. In 2015, it totaled USD 132 billion, an all-time high. So the challenge going forward is to use it in smart ways. We need to focus it on those countries that need it the most. We need to use it in ways that helps attract private investment, while ensuring appropriate safeguards. We need to use it in ways that help move countries from fragility to resilience.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Global Partnership is the place to get this work done. The OECD has worked closely with UNDP, and with over 80 developing countries to put evidence of progress – and of challenges – on the table. Our new report shows, for example, that the overwhelming majority of developing countries have national strategies in place to promote sustainable development. And while the donors are making progress in some areas – improving transparency, for example – the report also makes clear that more needs to be done to make their co-operation more predictable. We also need to do more to strengthen partnerships with civil society and with the private sector.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, our job is cut out for us. Let us decide today in Nairobi to shift gears in development co-operation. Let us agree:
At the OECD, we will continue to do our bit. To shine a spotlight on our Members’ efforts. To encourage and advise. And, in so doing, to help deliver better policies for better lives.