High-level dinner to mark the 5th anniversary of Israel’s OECD membership
Opening remarks by Angel Gurría,
Tel Aviv, 31 January 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear President, esteemed friends,
Thank you for hospitality in hosting this dinner to mark the 5th anniversary of Israel’s I would also like to pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr. President, and to wish my good friend Shimon Peres to get well soon, after his recent visit to hospital.
Upon becoming Secretary-General 10 years ago, I made making the Organisation not only bigger, but more inclusive and more representative, and I was delighted to welcome Israel in the ‘first wave’ of new members in 2011, together with Chile, Estonia and Slovenia.
Since accession, growth in GDP per capita has out-stripped the OECD average every year with the exception of 2014, and this out-performance looks set to continue. When people ask: How’s Life in Israel?, we can tell them that life satisfaction, health status and educational attainment of Israelis is well above the OECD average. We also know that challenges remain, particularly as regards income poverty, housing and air quality.
To address these and other issues, our bilateral relationship has since gone from strength to strength, with cooperation, with joint work in many areas. Let me share some of the highlights:
What much of this work has in common is this: Israel has been making great progress – economically, socially and environmentally – but despite recent improvements in the well-being among the Arab-Israeli and Haredim communities, as well as recent government investment in this direction, the advances in living standards for disadvantaged groups still lag behind. There’s also areas where Israel is a world leader, with lessons for other countries on things like managing scarce water resources. Israel is moving in the right direction, but you can and must do even better – and the OECD is proud to partner with you to achieve it.
As we celebrate the past, this 5th anniversary, let’s also look to the future. So, I look forward to an engaging discussion on how the OECD can position itself, and work with Israel, to achieve better policies for better lives, here and across the world.
Toda! (Thank you!)