Forum 2014, entitled Resilient Economies for Inclusive Societies, was organised around three cross-cutting themes: Inclusive Growth, Jobs, and Trust, exploring the multifaceted nature of resilience and how to now “bounce forward” in addressing economic, social, and environmental challenges.
There are several encouraging signs that the recovery is gaining some steam, but the global economy remains in low gear compared to the pre-crisis period.
Though OECD-wide unemployment should decrease slightly this year, 48 million people remain unemployed in OECD countries and 202 million globally.
Young people and the low-skilled have been hit the hardest, and youth unemployment remains at dramatically high levels in many countries.
Persistent high levels of unemployment and growing levels of inequality have increasingly eroded people’s trust not just in their governments, but in the system as a whole.
Building on last years’ discussions, OECD Forum 2014 offered an opportunity to reflect further on what governments, international organisations and the various OECD stakeholders must do to help develop more resilient economies and societies.
The crisis has drawn attention to the stark reality of growing inequality and the uneven distribution of burdens and rewards across society.
The Forum programme will reflect on OECD’s vision for Inclusive Growth that combines a focus on strong economic performance with outcomes that matter for people’s quality of life.
Debates will feature new policy alternatives profiling positive opportunities linked to innovative trends around the shared economy, “big data” and the “Internet of Everything”, and dealing with issues such as demographics and ageing, access to skills, health, inclusive and sustainable urban planning, climate change, and overcoming the middle income traps.
Since the crisis, levels of inequality have been rising further; due to high rates of unemployment, long-term structural unemployment, in-work poverty, and low-paid employment in insecure jobs with little social protection.
In this context, the Forum will address progress on the OECD Action Plan for Youth, the potential for job creation through innovation, and how to ensure broader access to the knowledge and skills needed in the 21st Century Production process.
When addressing inequality, ensuring access to skills is key. Skills are critical to empowering individuals, to contributing to their resilience and flexibility in adapting to innovation, improving health outcomes, and increasing trust in political processes and peers.
The crisis has shone a spotlight on concerns about undue influence over public policy, and has led many to question the ability of our governments and institutions to find solutions.
Low levels of trust mean that fewer citizens vote. It also reduces social cohesion, makes reform difficult, limits access to financing and the capability of governments to re-launch growth. This is a central topic as we enter a year which will feature numerous elections in OECD countries, and in Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.
The Forum will focus on challenges for the global community, relating to open and inclusive government, fair and transparent tax rules, corruption, financial regulation and financial inclusion, and long term-investment.
Better Life Index
There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics. The trick is deciding what actually makes for a better life, and how to measure progress.
Economic growth is not an end in itself – the point of growth is to deliver better lives for people across society. It was already becoming clear in the years before the crisis that GDP alone was not good enough– during the boom years inequality was widening in most OECD countries, and more money didn’t seem to be making people happier.
But what else should we be measuring to get the full picture?