Message from Norwegian Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen, Chair of the 2013 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting


It’s all about people: Jobs, Equality and Trust

The OECD’s mission statement – “Better Policies for Better Lives”- sums up the motivation for many of us politicians. We enter politics because we have a vision for a better society. And we believe that we have the solutions and tools to turn our visions into reality. I still believe very strongly in politics, but being a politician for some years now, it strikes me how dependent we are on peoples’ skills, ideas, devotion and energy to develop and get things done, both in the business sector and in the public sector.  Improvement of peoples’ well-being is the reason for politics and the motivation for change and development. 

Many politicians are deeply concerned today, and it’s all about people. 

We are concerned because young people have been particularly hard hit by the crisis in Europe. A vast number of strong, competent, young people not able to use and benefit from their talents and follow their dreams, is not in accordance with our vision of a good society.

We are concerned because labour is the most valuable resource we have, and human capital constitutes the major part of the national wealth in all our countries. Unemployment means  loss of income and welfare and a potential erosion of our national wealth.

We are concerned because youth unemployment is not only a waste of human resources and talent; it also hampers renewal and regeneration. Societies have always needed the skills, ideas, and energy of young people in order to revitalise the labour force, and drive their economies forward. Now many of those renewal agents are inactive.

And we are concerned because there are no quick fixes or immediate answers to all the legitimate questions we get. Hence, people might think that we don’t care about them and lose trust in governments and politics.

Each country’s situation is unique and faces different challenges. But we are all stakeholders in the crisis and many problems have to be solved on an international level. Developing effective strategies which converts skills into jobs, growth and better social outcomes will depend on a right mix of many national and international measures which we don’t have a clear enough understanding of yet.

The OECD Forum 2013 will give world leaders and stakeholders a valuable opportunity to come together and seek collective approaches to tackle the current challenges. The Forum will be organised around key issues: promoting inclusive growth and addressing inequalities, rebuilding trust in the system, and fostering sustainability.

On behalf of Norway, Chair of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, I look forward to work with you and to discuss these issues with you during the Forum and the MCM 2013.