Closing Remarks by Angel Gurría,
05 February 2016
OECD, Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you to close Statistics Day 2016. I’d like to thank our speakers, in particular our guest speaker, Professor Algan, from Sciences Po, all the teams who set up a stand, as well as Martine Durand and her colleagues in STD, who crunch the numbers and run the models that shape so much of our work.
Today is an important opportunity to get our statisticians together, to think about how we use statistics, how we can use them better, and how statistics can take us into new areas.
The OECD is one of the main sources of reliable and comparable statistics in the world. Statistics are the raw material of this organisation. Our analysis, our policy recommendations, our support to reforms are all based on solid statistics. Because if you can measure it, you can improve it!
The best data gathering and analysis underpins our work on innovation, migration, climate change, trade restrictiveness, education, inclusive development, global energy, investment, inequality, to name just a few areas.
The quality of our statistical work analysis is the strength of our international standards and policy recommendations. This is why we are uniquely well-placed to help countries face the most pressing national and international challenges.
The programme of this OECD Statistics Day reflects the relevance of reliable data to address pressing policy challenges. For example, migration.
The OECD is working at the cutting edge of the migration crisis, shaping the public debate and informing policymakers with the first ever set of indicators to measure the quality of the integration of migrants. OECD statistics have also shown, for example, that lifting immigrants’ employment rates to native-born levels would deliver fiscal benefits of one-half of a percentage point of GDP or more annually in a number of OECD countries.
It is also because of our statistical capacity that we will be instrumental in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Turning the ambition of the Goals into reality will require robust data to measure progress and inform policymaking, and the OECD is on hand to do this, ready to be the GPS to keep countries on track to deliver the SDGs.
Our Better Life Initiative already goes beyond macro-economic statistics and uses statistical analysis to understand people’s actual experiences and living conditions. The Better Life Index provides countries and citizens with comprehensive and comparable data across 11 dimensions of well-being in the 34 OECD Members as well as in Brazil and Russia. Over time the Index will expand to cover the four other key partner countries: China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
We are also helping countries track progress in areas such as trust, health inequalities, green growth, income and consumption inequality, and job quality. Our PISA Survey leads the field in measuring educational attainment. And we are not just providing data, we are building statistical capacity in developing countries, through our partnership with PARIS21, hosted here in the OECD.
Our statistical expertise will also make us indispensable in the follow-up to commitments made at COP21. The UN Secretary-General called me personally the Monday after COP21 to thank the OECD for helping achieve a historic deal. We will continue to play a central role in its implementation, in particular through our statistical work.
We will use indicators and data to keep track of countries’ progress towards the agreed mitigation goals, and to ensure transparency on climate efforts, including on fossil fuel subsidies and climate finance. But we won’t stop there.
Statistics are alive, our capacity to develop useful statistics has to be continuously updated and innovated. This was part of the rationale behind our New Approaches to Economic Challenges Initiative, launched in 2012, which is taking our statistical work into new areas, such as measuring trust, incorporating indicators on job quality, and ensuring that our analysis looks at distributional data rather than just country averages. For example, the distribution of education and skills data over various social categories.
We continued to push the boundaries of our statistical approaches at the 5th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Guadalajara in October. Making our well-being agenda even more multi-dimensional and proposing new metrics to support inclusive growth. For example, metrics on social and emotional skills, trust and cooperation, culture and community values.
And we are also harnessing statistics to support our productivity agenda for 2016, the theme of this year’s Ministerial Council Meeting. In particular, we will be using statistics to understanding the nexus between productivity and inequality.
This has important statistical implications because the measurement of the supply side of the economy – productivity – has to be brought together in new ways with measures of inequalities, skills and social statistics.
We are also strengthening our capacity to provide more up-to-date, relevant statistics; ensuring that governments have the latest information available to make policy decisions. We are doing this by developing new “now-casting” techniques and by harnessing the potential of smart, big data.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Statistics are the underpinning of OECD’s work. Numbers lie behind everything we do, every recommendation we make. But we must not forget that what lies behind each number, each percentage, each decimal is a human being, a story, a family, a dream.
So let’s keep up the good work, keep pushing the boundaries of our discipline, and hold fast to our mission to improve lives. This is what we are about. Better data really does help create better lives.