Several OECD events, consultations and meetings involving civil society organisations (CSOs) took place since December.
OECD Development Week
The OECD Development Centre celebrated its 50th Anniversary during a week of events, kicking off on
27 February and culminating with a High-Level Meeting of the Centre’s Governing Board on 1 March . This week-long series of development events was organised by the Development Centre and with the support of many external and internal partners, including the OECD Development Co-operation and Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorates, the Association of European Development Finance Institutions, the European Commission, and the Embassies of Chile, Mexico, Poland, and Spain. Guests included ministers from OECD and non-OECD member countries and development actors from around the world, including many civil society representatives. The meetings were an opportunity to share experiences and identify policy options in the quest to build competitive economies and cohesive societies in an increasingly interconnected world. Participants also discussed their views on the OECD Strategy on Development, which is currently being elaborated by the Organisation.
OECD conference on learning environments
Finnish students have earned top marks from the OECD’s landmark PISA study, which tests the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in more than 70 countries. Participants at the OECD conference entitled “A Recipe for Success: Transforming Learning Environments through Dynamic Local Partnerships", which took place in Finland from 22-24 February, observed, experimented, and learned first-hand some of the many approaches to effective learning environments used in Finnish schools (see blog post). But the recipe is not simple. While there seems to be a lot happening in Finland as far as preparing schools for new technologies in the classroom, it seems that the era of information overload serves to reinforce - yet question - the traditional role of the teachers. Papers from the conference are available here: http://congress.utu.fi/CELE2012/index.php.
Oxfam America meeting on inequality
On 13 February 2012, Oxfam America convened a special meeting on “The Future of Economic Growth: How should inequality be treated?” This meeting aimed to generate fresh ideas on tackling rising inequality in the context of economic growth, and to contribute to Oxfam America’s debate on its future strategic plan and research. The meeting identified three key issues: (1) role of the state and institutions, (2) how to respond to the current political crisis given limited resources and (3) measuring what counts. Wen-Hao Chen, OECD Social Policy Division, participated in a round table discussion and presented highlights of Divided We Stand – Why Inequality Keeps Rising. Some 20 participants from international organisations, academia and NGOs attended.
OECD Task Force on Tax and Development: Sub Group on Statebuilding, Taxation and Aid
The second meeting of the OECD’s Task Force on Tax and Development’s Sub Group on Statebuilding, Taxation and Aid took place on 7-8 February in Paris. Over 70 delegates from developing countries, OECD members, international and regional organisations, business and civil society gathered against the backdrop of ever increasing international attention to the importance of mobilising domestic resources for development. Discussions focused on transparency of investment-related tax incentives, donor countries interaction with developing countries on tax matters, measuring progress on tax system development, and building the capacity of developing countries on tax matters. Delegates from several CSOs including Tax Justice Network Africa, Action Aid and the Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement-Terre Solidaire (CCFD-Terre Solidaire) actively engaged in discussions. They emphasised the importance of transparency in tax matters and the value of citizen participation in decisions regarding revenue collection and expenditure as they promote better governance and stronger states. The necessity of building the capacity of CSOs to engage in dialogue with governments on national and international tax issues was also raised.
Canada 2020 meeting on income disparities and polarisation
On 19 January, Canada 2020 held a meeting in Ottawa on Reducing Income Disparities and Polarization. Canada 2020 is “a non-partisan, progressive centre created to provide policy options and ideas for Canadian decision makers and leaders”. The centre is presently running a programme, called The Canada We Want in 2020, which focuses on several pressing policy issues, including reducing income inequality. The meeting gathered an audience of more than 300 participants who engaged in a very interactive discussion, touching on the effectiveness of social programs and the role of the tax/benefit system amongst other issues. Alessandro Goglio, Counsellor in the OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, was asked to review the key findings of Divided We Stand – Why Inequality Keeps Rising and the related policy lessons.
Liaison Committee meeting with BIAC
The Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) held its Liaison Committee Meeting (LCM), an annual consultation with the OECD Council on 18 January on the topic of fostering private-sector led growth and development. Members of BIAC and invited business speakers discussed business approaches and strategies to remove impediments to growth and development. They underlined the importance of creating business environment conditions conducive to economic growth in the current global economic context, as well as conditions for boosting development. Topics addressed included governance; open markets for trade and investment; employment creation; green growth; taxation; competition; and financial markets.
Public Consultation on the Draft Code of Conduct of the Palestinian Authority
In the framework of the MENA-OECD Initiative to support the Palestinian Authority (MIP) and upon the request of the General Personnel Council (GPC), the OECD supported the National Committee for the Code of Conduct (NCCC) in designing and implementing a code of conduct for the civil service. The purpose of this Information Day on 11 January 2012 was to bring key stakeholders together and inform them about the consultation process of the Draft Code of Conduct, presenting the steps and timelines of the NCCC consultation. More than 80 participants from most of the ministries and public agencies, civil society organisations, and universities attended the event and participated actively. They endorsed the consultation strategy for the Code of Conduct, committed their participation and provided valuable input. More info
Conference on youth employment
On 13 and 14 December the OECD hosted a conference on youth employment, organised by the European Youth Forum in co-operation with the OECD Forum. Young people, youth leaders, experts and policy makers discussed best practices within the economic crisis for the integration of youth in the labour market. Topics included the economic crisis and its impact on the future of young people; the future situation of the youth labour market; and the skills mismatch. A roundtable of youth leaders focused on the origins of social unrest in relation to youth unemployment in Europe and debated with new and emerging civil society organisations the consequences of the financial crisis and the different approaches they have taken.